Self-sabotage, crippling fear and finding my way out
Updated: Apr 7
Chances are I'm not the only one who has wrestled my demons until I became a mere mound of desiccated husks laying limp in the baking sun.
I was desperate to escape the prison; the lifestyle of broken dreams, emotions that left scars, and never-ending disappointment from me, my friends and quite frankly, life.
And I was highly functioning, successful even
I operated at full tilt most of the time, held enough bits of me together to hold down a job, then start a business, do some great work and maintain reasonably healthy relationships.
I had a vision, goals, and a desire to be better and do better.
And yet some invisible snare kept tripping me up.
I thought the way out was in the self-help genre
So I did just that.
I read, studied the greats, attended seminars, participated in workshops and at best I'd be on my way for 1 maybe 3 days before I slipped back into this invisible snare.
I was one of those types who had all the books, all the workbooks, all the attendance slips of seminars and workshops to beat the band and yet my life was lacking evidence of any real transformation.
I would come to know years and years later that knowledge, information and learning are exceptional pointers to the doorway.
They expand awareness and shift perception of what's possible.
They do very little at breaking the invisible snare that keeps tripping us up.
I thought the way out was understanding the meaning of life
So I pursued just that.
Philosophy, poets, and writers such as Emerson, Osho and Mansour Al-Hallaj were now the materials-du-jour. I travelled to the Middle East to study sufism. I explored science, nature and spirituality.
I would come to acquire a vast collection of metaphors, quotes, quips, and lovely pieces of writing that still left me stuck and tied to an invisible snare that sent me face planting into the dirt more often than I care to admit.
I went into the darkness and there I found the light.
Now, when I say I went into the darkness and there I found the light, what I really mean is I went in kicking, screaming, with a bottle of Jameson in one hand, a pack of fags in the other, and I am pretty sure I lost 2 toe nails dragging my feet all the way.
And - until recently - I didn't know there was a darkness.
I mean I did.
I knew about the unconscious mind (unconscious mind is the darkness).
I had been pursuing ways to change it for decades with my studies, books and philosophy. I ended up with a lot of awareness and not much change.
The metaphors and quotes - they all resonated - they felt good - AND - I still wasn't able to effect real change in my life despite willing it, mantra-ing it, and sage-ing the f&ck out of it.
That invisible snare was both real and not real
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try again.
My pursuit for change in my life was relentless.
At the time (circa 2011), it was driven by a very simple dynamic:
I didn't have it in me to kill myself and yet I wanted out more than anything.
If I was forced to exist then I needed it to hurt less.
I would spend my life searching for it, or die tryin' (said a-la-Fitty Cent).
The second impetus came from my philosophical studies - and the idea that we recycle - as in, we come back. (that was circa 2014)
Whilst I didn't really believe we did - enough doubt was created in me to petrify me just short of turning to stone. That fear of having to come back and do this all over again was a powerful driver that my mind decided it would hack a way out of... you know, just in case.
I would set out for the next 5 years, resolving how to hack the system to tick the boxes required in this lifetime, so I would never ever have to come back - just in case.
That motivation to hack the system trumped everything else - including your opinion of me.
Eleven insights from finding my way out.
1. The Conscious Self is where the majority of people live today. In their head with their thoughts. When they hear the words - go within - they have a tendency to roll their eyes. They have no idea that the inner world is as big, (and bigger) than the outer world. Yes. It's an entire WORLD in there.
2. The Unconscious Self is where a good bit of the magic is at, and knowing that isn't enough - clearly!
Consider for a moment how bloody smart you are - Seriously! Intellectually I'd put you in the top 80%, maybe higher. So with all that intellect - all those books, podcasts, webinars and learning you pride yourself on - why are you still tied to an invisible snare tripping you up?
Because it is not intellect that effects real change in one's life.
(D'oh! would have been fun to have discovered that age 20ish. hahaha)
3. Knowledge & Learning - whilst that is perfect for your conscious self, it has almost NO EFFECT on your unconscious self. (The part of you where real change is sourced.)
4. Your unconscious self contains the roots of the trees bearing fruit in your life today. If you don't like the fruit your trees are giving you, then the roots of the tree need to be tended to. And not by acquiring more knowledge.
5. The biggest angst showing up in your life today (fruit of the tree) is the very thing to follow back into your unconscious self to locate the root in order for you to witness and heal it so it reintegrates in a form that lets the tree give you the fruit you like.
6. The tools, resources, and strategies for the unconscious self look, sound, and move very differently to those that you engage for the conscious self. TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Dr. Carl Jung is a godfather in this space - he suggests that the language of the unconscious is signs, colours, shapes, symbols.
7. Your reality is created through perception.
Your perception is influenced and determined by your (limiting) beliefs. (the ones that lay quietly within your unconscious self). You CANNOT create a reality that contradicts your unconscious programming.
For example - if you have an underlying (limited) belief that you are unlovable - you will create a reality that gives you evidence that you are in fact unlovable. You will interpret interactions, experiences, people, texts, everything through this filter - "See,. they don't love me - if they loved me, then they would...."
8. Your unconscious programmes are running you.
Changing the unconscious programmes means you have changed the belief about being unlovable. Changing the rooted belief will change the influence on your perception of reality. Thus you have a different experience of your reality.
9. Those gremlins showing up in your day-to-day are there by design - they are the very clues life gives you to bring your attention to a rooted, (limiting) belief that is ready to be witnessed, healed and integrated. (There's a good few of them by the way). I reckon I've discovered over 9,000 of my own as I write this post.
10. Going from head to heart is 3-terrifying feet... soul grating.
I know. I have done that journey -it's excruciating AF.
What I can tell you - is that the terror passes, (it is also an illusion but that clarity comes later) and now being on this side of it, I can say, hand on heart, it was absolutely worth it.
11 You cannot hack enlightenment. You probably already knew that. What can I say? Sometimes I get notions that are dum as s&*^
I'll leave you with this:
Life is a paradox...
Very rarely is anything as it seems
Shannon Eastman, Growth Consultant
The Shannon Eastman Show
Shannon Eastman is a growth consultant, human behaviour expert, communications adviser, management consultant, mentor and business coach. Shannon is the Host of The Shannon Eastman Show, Founder of Funds Ireland MiniCon and an Advisor to starts ups in the Middle East.