A couple of months ago a group of friends and I decided to work through a book called Playing Big by Tara Mohr. This book was written for women who want to play bigger in their lives, and who, in attempting to do so, run into the resistance that always comes when we are stretching ourselves toward something new.
I spent some time with these friends recently, and we talked about the experience of finding our inner mentor, part of Chapter Two in the book. For me, finding my inner mentor felt like a familiar idea, as I am always preaching to my clients (can I get an amen?) about the importance of finding the nurturing parent within and bringing his or her voice to bear with affirmation, attention, and nurture. I work on this daily in my own life, so finding my inner mentor seemed similar.
My inner mentor is a wiser, older part of me. She wears very flowy linen clothing, and emanates calmness and openness of heart. She is a nurturing presence, no question. But she is more than that. I found that she is a vision holder. A dream catcher. And, she is a consultant.
When I first met her (this is in the context of a guided imagery, lest you worry I have started seeing visions or hearing voices), she looked at me with worry in her eyes. When I asked her what I needed to do to get from where I am today to where she was, she told me I needed to slow down. Way down. That I needed to stop striving and struggling so hard to move so many things forward at one time. That I would get where I need to go sooner if I went more slowly.
As she told me this, I could feel a sense of calm and peace emanating from her. I could also feel the sense of “hurry up and get it done” emanating from me. However, over time, I have learned to trust this inner voice. Now, I believe her when she tells me I need to slow down, and that I will get “there” faster if I do.
Practicing this is a different matter. Have you noticed the way that our brain always wants more? More information, more entertainment, more sex, more food, more things, more distractions, more experiences? If you are dealing with addiction, then you really know what it is like to be caught in the endless craving for more, different, higher, increasingly intense, etc.
It is a major task to switch from this mode of faster, quicker, better, harder to a slowed down, embodied, deliberate, and intentional way of living. Yet, this is exactly what recovery requires from us. Recovery asks us to go slowly, to take the time to learn how to connect to ourselves possibly for the first time ever. To cut ourselves some slack as we struggle with normal daily life tasks during the first days and weeks of sobriety. To be patient with ourselves as we learn new ways of coping. To ease ourselves into relationships with others where we reveal our true selves with honesty and vulnerability.
With recovery, going slowly gets us “there” faster in the end. It allows us the space to not just learn new information cognitively, but to engage in the experiences that transform us from the inside out. It allows deep and lasting change to occur, rather than quick, temporary alterations that quickly fade.
If you are on a journey of recovery, I encourage you to listen to your own inner mentor, and see what he or she has to say to you. Take the time to slow down, pause, and intentionally tune in to what you need at this particular time and place in your journey. What is the vision cast by this wiser, older part of you? What is revealed when you tap into what you most deeply long for and is most meaningful to you?
As you slow down, remind yourself that you are actually going faster. Because when it comes to recovery, the turtle always, always wins the race.