Your mind is a nutshell in that it’s a closed box. It only knows what it knows. It feeds itself more often than not. Outside information gets skewed and often ignored. The mind sees and thinks only what it wants to see and think until it is challenged beyond the point where it can sustain itself. We call that point the breaking point and then, and only then, does it change its tune or begin to consider opening up to new ways of being.
This nutshell doesn’t open easily. It’s a hard nut to crack because it gets stubborn about what it thinks and believes. It identifies strongly with its own thinking. It often refuses new information unless it is forced to do otherwise.
The shell is a protection mechanism. The purpose is to keep the pain out. By only subscribing to its own way of being, it makes new information and outside ideas painful. That’s a good thing because that is what offers the protection. If I don’t let anything in then I don’t have to take on new pain. The pain is out there and that’s where it needs to stay so I’ll just close my protective shell and stay locked up tight inside. Nothing can get me in here because my shell is protecting me.
What the mind doesn’t realize is that the pain is within itself. Closing the shell doesn’t avoid the pain, it just traps it inside. We get stuck with the pain we’ve already picked up, but we think we’re protecting ourselves because we’re not letting new pain in. In a sense that’s true, no more new pain will enter the nutshell. But in another sense, it’s not true because the existing pain can only create more pain. Pain begets pain every time. So if you trap the pain inside you will inevitably create more pain outside. This is what balance looks like. This is how the internal and the external balance themselves out. The external will always reflect the internal pain. The Universe balances energy naturally. It will always go back to a neutral point. Well, when we’re talking about individual human beings, the neutral point is when the pain in the external world is equal to the pain of the internal world.
Creating your own reality just means you change the balance within yourself. If you take your internal world, open up the nutshell, and let off some of the pain via healing, you naturally change the balance. Because the Universe will always go back to neutral, your external world will eventually shift to balance the energy back out.
The problem is that we don’t like to open up the shell because we’re afraid of what we’re going to let in while we’re at it. The thing is you can’t let go of the pain if you don’t open up to something new. You can’t get to the contents of the box if you don’t open the box. It doesn’t work that way. The fear comes from the idea of something new. The mind doesn’t like that. It wants to keep the closed shell because that’s easier for it to manage while protecting you from pain.
Every few years I would have a nervous breakdown. I would blow off all the internal pain I had not dealt with for the previous few years. That would get me to blow up my life by quitting jobs, moving, ending relationships, or anything else I could find to quit or leave, and I would start again. I was like a pressure cooker that the lid blew off of because it had over-pressurized. But blowing off the excess pressure wasn’t actually healing, it was just relieving some pressure, so inevitably, I would recreate the pain again and the cycle would continue. It wasn’t a helpful cycle honestly. It was just a cycle of pain that I was in.
It was only once I completely fell apart, I opened up to the idea that there had to be a better way to do things. That was when I found spirituality and the journey began. Spirituality and the principles that I encountered gave me a foundation to heal with. It gave me an idea of how to do this for myself. I’ll be really honest with you, I had to open up my own nutshell of a mind to allow in a new way of thinking and being. Most of the arguing that I’ve done with myself over the years has been because the mind wants to keep its own way of being intact. I’ve had to unlearn a lot of the things that I learned through religion and the people around me growing up. When I tell you the mind is stubborn, I’m not exaggerating that. We get stuck in ways of being really easily. Some of it is protection and some of it is the ego which also wants to defend itself.
Healing was an intuitive process for me through a combination of tarot and writing. It took awhile to establish that foundation because I definitely didn’t start there. Writing didn’t come into the picture until about 3 or 4 years into my journey. Learning how to use writing to gain clarity took a bit of time because honestly it’s a little too easy to just defend your own story in your writing. The ego can get in there and take over really fast if you’re not paying attention. But there was some motivation for me because I wanted to teach through writing. I didn’t want to just be writing about the pain all the time. I’ll admit that my first few blogs were painful because I was doing exactly that. Even with limited awareness at the time, I started to look for ways to write about what was going on while staying out of the ego story around it. That formed the basis for my writing to become more of an intuitive process that I could use to gain clarity around the things that were happening in my life.
One of the arguments that I still have with myself sometimes is around the balance between how much I “teach” and how much I share about myself and my own journey. My writing feels very selfish to me a lot of the time. What I’m coming to understand is that I can’t mess with that balance too much. I use my writing to gain clarity for myself and if I try not to do that I have nothing to write about. When I take myself out of it I no longer want to write; there is no motivation anymore. I’m motivated to write by the clarity I get through my writing. The clarity that I get is what motivates me to then share that with you. It’s a loop that feeds itself and I can’t muck with it without breaking it.
Would it surprise you to know that I’m a private person? I used to hate sharing. I didn’t want to share anything when I started this process. I didn’t want to put my proverbial dirty laundry on the Internet. I didn’t want people to know how much of a train wreck I was. Honestly, that was the hardest part of the process - the decision to share. It fed into the story that people won’t like me if they know how much of a mess I am. It fed into my fear of what other people were thinking about me. There is no faster way to get over that fear than to decide to write blogs and publicly share your crazy on the Internet the way I do. Talk about coming out of the nutshell. This was so far outside of my comfort zone that I can’t really explain it in a way that does it justice.
Everything you want is on the other side of the nutshell you’ve trapped yourself in. Every single thing that I didn’t know I wanted, was way outside of my nutshell of a comfort zone - everything. Do you know why I didn’t know I wanted all this? Because it was buried under all kinds of pain.
I remember getting ready to graduate high school in my grade 12 year and talking to my parents about what I wanted to do with my life. I was questioning being a teacher because I had found writing at that point and I wanted to do that. My parents are very practical people and the sound advice that they gave me was to stick with teaching because it was a government job with benefits. If I wanted to write then I needed to be a journalist or something because at least that was a paying job, but it definitely wasn’t as good as being a teacher. I didn’t feel like I was allowed to just write and see where that took me. I didn’t feel like I could do my own thing. So I made the choice they wanted me to make. I buried my dream of writing under the pain of pleasing my practical, well-meaning parents and then promptly forgot I had buried the dream at all.
It wasn’t until many years later that I finally allowed myself to move toward the dream, but not without much kicking and screaming. By the time I decided to be a writer, the dream was so far buried under the pain that I had a ton of work to do to free it up. If you’re like me and you made practical choices instead of going after your dreams, then it is likely that you too have buried dreams you’ve forgotten about and didn’t know you wanted.
My dream of writing would have looked very different 30 years ago than it does now. The Internet was barely a thing at that point. Writing would have been a process of submitting articles to newspapers and magazines via traditional mail as a freelancer. That’s a long way from starting a free blog on the Internet and attracting a following online.
What does that show you? The dream evolves as you move forward. By the time I dug up the dream again the technology was in place for me to avoid the freelance path and literally just write for myself. The dream evolved as life and technology did. Chances are your dreams have also evolved from where they were when you originally had them. What dream did you bury? What were your high school or young adult dreams? Those things are likely clues to where you want to go. Chances are, you’re like I was and you’ve forgotten you ever had those dreams. I get that because I experienced it myself.
The nutshell you’re trapped in blocked out anything that you didn’t actively take on for yourself, that includes old dreams that you never chased down. You were protecting yourself from the potential pain of going after something you wanted. The pain was either that of other people or it was your own fear of something that stopped you.
Sometimes we hang onto the things that we bury and other times we let go of those things. When we hang onto them it creates future pain when you realize what you truly wanted. When we let them go completely there is no future pain created. Only you will know that difference and it might actually take some work to figure out which is which. Until you start digging through the pain a little bit you won’t ever truly know.
I need to be careful here because I don’t actually dig through pain. I don’t believe that to be a particularly helpful strategy. I prefer to allow life to show me the pain I need to work through. I let life bring it to the surface and then deal with it at that point because that gives the pain context. It gives the pain meaning. It offers mental clarity around what the pain is and how it’s affecting me in that present moment.
When you go randomly digging up pain for yourself without the context of current life experience, your perception of that pain is based the past. It has no present context and that makes it hard to understand how that wound is affecting you currently.
Healing is not just a releasing of pain. It’s an active process of mental clarity and behavior change. The pain you dug up is reflected in your behavior in some way. Without current life experience reflecting that back to you, it’s hard to figure out how your behavior is affected. The best way to shift your behavior is to wait for your pain to show up in your current life experience and then change your response or reaction to that experience. That will make it easier for you to understand what needs to shift so that you can stop behaving as though you’re in pain when you’re not.
Life offers you context around your pain all the time. The thing is that most of us are so trapped in our own nutshells, we pay no attention to it. Every time something happens that upsets you, your life experience is talking to you. It’s trying to show you that your reaction to this thing is causing pain and therefore there is something for you to heal; there is a behavior to shift. Your job is to take that and use it to your advantage. Your focus on being bothered by what’s going on doesn’t let you use the experience that way. You’re too busy being mad at it and blaming others for it to pay attention to the wound that it triggered within you. Your focus on the pain keeps you stuck, literally. When life offers you an opportunity to heal something this way, you instead choose to focus on the problem with it. You’re more concerned about being mad than you are with healing yourself. You need to make you your own priority, not being pissed off at your life.