Willpower... One of my favorite topics. It happens to me again and again: I start a new project, meditation or yoga practice, fitness or anything really. I get so enthusiastic that I get a lot done in a short time but then the fire starts to control me. I want to have it all, NOW. I may start to be a little pushy with people who, I feel, slow down what I do. And/Or I get scared to make wrong choices and it paralyses me. And of course: there is the fear of failure - a big one.
Sometimes this even leads me (or at least it sometimes lead me in the past) to being sick, exhausted or even giving up on a project. I am still not quite over this pattern, as I realised today. The same tendencies just happened to me again with my interview series on sex and the research I intend to do about it at university.
I find myself in Delhi, India since yesterday with plenty of choices of where to go to, to talk to interesting people. But this huge choice paralysed me. And I started panicking about when to bring out another video. As if the world was waiting for just that . Asking myself: what if I can't live up to what I posted a few days ago about interviewing many experts around the globe? What if I am not good enough?
Someone reminded me today (by being very stubborn to what I wanted him to do, RIGHT NOW , to just slow down. Relax. Here in my hotel room without
windows, with my ankle still hurting when I walk, and another infection healing, after a 22-hour journey from Bali to India yesterday, I relax and let it all be. And I feel very happy. Everything
happens when it happens. We can really relax and let it all come. And out of this relaxation, I see myself doing all the things that need to be done, completely by themselves. And I hear the
voice of my heart again telling me what to do next. No struggle. I let myself drop into this ocean.
This is what I mean by "harmonious" willpower.
Willpower means… saying YES to what your heart is committed to again and again and again. When we follow our hearts, for example by carrying out a certain project (like me now with the sexuality research), there will be “tests” – times when things get extraordinarily difficult and we are full of fear. Sometimes, we then say: “It’s just not meant to be. This is too hard.” But I understand now more and more that it all comes down to truly saying “YES” to yourself and to what you believe to be the right thing to do.
In these tests, it’s like the universe asks you “do you truly want this?”. And then you better say “YES, I truly want this. And I will do what it takes.”
This happened to me before I traveled to Bali to attend Sofia Sundari's tantric training ("Priestess School"). I got my ankle sprained and the doctor said: “you should better stay home”. The fearful parts inside of me were almost happy. But then I did realise that those were fears holding me back.
After I said “YES” again inside of me, “YES I really want to travel to Bali and India, and I really WANT to attend Sofia's training even though it is scary and intense”, after this I found a doctor who told me that it could actually be okay to go (she said: "you ought to be crazy sometimes"). And my God, how much would I have missed if I hadn’t come. It was an absolutely lifechanging experience. And my foot is healing as well.
When tests come, different things may happen. For example, you may need to invest money, time or effort to push through a difficulty. You might then think: “no, I can’t afford that”.
Think twice! Chances are that if what you are doing really comes from your heart, you CAN absolutely afford it. The money comes back in mysterious ways, that is my experience. But only if you are spending it with the right intention, from the heart. (I know this all might not sound too scientific for my scientific friends here, but I've seen it happen again and again in my life, even with bigger amounts of money).
Today I wanted to take a flight to Dharamshala at 6.30 AM. But when I woke up in the morning I was feeling really sick and vomited. So I decided I can’t travel like this. Later on, the boss (I think) of the hotel gave me medicine to feel better. Three pills. I asked: “what is it? It’s not antibiotics, is it?” He just smiled and repeatedly said: “Take it, take it, it’s good medicine.” For some reason, I took the medicine without even checking what it was! Not a good idea…
Briefly later I realized it actually WAS an antibiotic pill and exactly the type that I am quite allergic to. So I got an allergic reaction and they took me to the hospital (I seem to spend an awful lot of time there lately). I got some injections etc and everything was fine in the end, and I feel good again.
But the parts of me that are scared of doing what I feel I ought to be doing (namely right now: going to Dharamshala) “used” this situation and they said: “See, you should just rest. Stay here the entire weekend and just relax.” (It's a bit like politicians who use a small "terror attack" to change the rules around data protection etc. ) To book a new flight to Dharamshala would be 180 €, double as much as I paid for the flight I missed. “See, you’re supposed to stay here”, the careful and little-me voice says. But my heart was not happy with it, it tells me to go to Dharamshala.
So I said YES again to my heart, and I booked a new flight for tomorrow morning for the higher price. 20 minutes later, the hotel guy tells me that I will get all the food that I ate here for free and the taxi transfer as well. I guess he was feeling a little guilty about the pill. So it didn’t take long for the money to come back to me, which I spent on something that was dear to my heart. You could say it's just a coincidence, of course, and he would have given me the meals for free anyway. But it really works that way for me all the time. It’s mysterious.
What did I learn today?
- even when I am alone in a different country, someone always takes care of me, I am never alone. (So grateful! The hotel guys stayed for hours with me in the hospital.)
- don’t take pills from strangers without knowing what they are
- remember that a medicine/treatment that is good for another person, may not be good for me.
- Say YES to what feels right and keep on pushing through the difficulties with willpower
- When you did not fullheartedly say YES the first time around, you will get a new chance. Learn from your experience and say YES this time.
Say YES to yourself.
I’ve been trying to understand willpower for many years, from a scientific perspective and from a personal perspective. But only now I feel like I am starting to understand what it really means.
Because I feel like willpower has really awakened in me now. I am very grateful for that.
I have witnessed myself not being stopped by strained ankles, bladder infections, vomiting, allergic reactions, the love of my life marrying someone else, fear of not having enough money, fear of getting a bad reputation, fear of failure. I just kept on following my heart and what I knew to be true.
This makes me very happy. No matter what comes out of it at the end, this makes me happy in the here and now.
Over the past years, the voice of my heart has become so loud that even if I tried to, I could not act against it, or only for a short while. I turned down great job offers in order to pursue my uncertain but authentic path. And as I have written in my last post, for some reason it always works out, even financially.
I don’t want to make any compromises anymore when it comes to following my intuition and heart. “Maybe do research on relationships instead, it will be easier. You can’t talk about sex! It will ruin your reputation and career opportunities.” I hear things like this a lot.
But you know what, NO. No, no, no. I feel like it’s such an important topic and it has the potential to change a lot. I don’t care about my reputation anymore, I don’t care about financial security, as life proves to me again and again, that there is abundance, there is always enough, and it always works out. I can’t let those fears control me.
So I do feel like willpower has awakened in me. That said, I just read in my tantra-notebook the remark by one of my teachers “you have to stop the ego from saying ‘it’s me doing all this’”. So maybe it’s not me having the willpower, and doing what I am doing. It’s just happening on its own and it’s beautiful. And it’s true.
Some researchers (remind me who it was, I think Marcel Brass and Patrick Haggard or Libet himself) played with the idea that we might not have free will when it comes to initiating actions, but we might have a “right to veto”. I find this an interesting perspective. If we surrender to the flow of things, everything does happen by itself, and beautifully so. But if we want to stop it or if we have blockages, fears etc., the flow does get stopped. Then we get stuck somewhere and feel distanced from our true selves.
However, if it can be our free will to stop actions from happening, not stopping them is in some way also a free decision. So we are free or not free, it probably doesn’t matter. I surely feel an incredibly FREEDOM right now.
I came to India for work, with a plan to learn about tantra, yoga and different perspectives on sexuality for my research. But all the people who I initially wanted to meet cancelled me or did not have time. But the flight was already booked. I freaked out a little bit, because what was I going to do now? So now I have nothing in my hands than my intuition to guide me to the right people. I guess that’s how it works in India.
I arrived in Dharamsala. I feel so blessed. It is so beautiful. My heart was right in wanting to come here, I didn’t even know why. “Random”. A balcony with the most amazing view over the hills, birds and butterflies dancing in front of me. God, Life, you are spoiling me. <3
Little voice saying: “How do I deserve all this?”. But let’s not listen to this voice. We all deserve so much happiness and beauty, all the time. Life wants to give us presents and all we need to do is receive them with grace and open them up. If some presents look ugly, you can learn something from them, grow, and that’s the gift.
I am so, so grateful. <3 For being guided and safe, for being allowed to make my contribution to this world and for receiving so much beauty.