From cleverness to flow

A friend complimented me recently on how capable or clever he thought I was for doing so much internal work in the midst of my recovery. I struggled to reply as all I could think was “oh, no, I’ve fallen into the clever girl trap once again.”

As a child I compensated my feelings of being invisible, a failure and lonely with being clever.

If only I was clever, my parents or others would see how fantastic I really was.

It kind of backfired. At school I got mocked by classmates for being clever: they somehow deduced that I was doing homework all the time instead of merely having a great memory. I also noticed that conversations with my friends became awkward when we were comparing marks: somehow they were allowed to be really happy for improving their marks, but I wasn’t. When I did really well and got top marks in several subjects, my mother said that being clever didn’t pay off for women. But this didn’t stop me from trying to be clever and achieve in almost everything I did.

After I had spoken to my friend, it suddenly dawned upon me that I was using my illness as a way to be clever again.

Very early on I decided to make the best of it, and I asked myself how I could do that. I could do internal work like healing my inner child as well as changing my diet and thus learning to cook vegetarian food, loose weight, become fit, learn how to DIY domestic products, learn to grow my own herbs, and change direction of my career/life. Heck, I’m not that ambitious.

I thought once I had recovered I could share what I had done with the world, so that I could help or inspire others. Nothing wrong with that, but it occurred to me that I had subconsciously wanted to do it to become visible and to show the world how clever I was.

I thought back to what one therapist told me: that I was so into doing things right that I might forget to have fun. And here I had fallen into the trap again: making the internal work and recovery into hard work or homework.

Thanks to my friend, I was able to stop filling in the forms the hospital gave me. I realised the moment my ergotherapist presented me with a weekly planner, that it wouldn’t be a fun task for a semi planner. But I kept silent, and tried to do my best as I was all about being clever and achieving. My frustration grew and after two weeks I asked myself why and whom I was filling out the forms for. I was doing it for the hospital staff: it was homework. I immediately stopped filling out the forms, and it felt like a great relief.

The realisation has helped me take a step back and release the pressure I had put myself under. Now I can take one step at a time and try to have more fun.

Which is particularly useful, as I was changing so many subconscious beliefs at a short period of time, that I was nearly standing at the top of a cliff.

I still hope to share the wisdom I have gained and help others, but by accepting that I don’t need to be so capable or clever or have to write a bestseller about it (well, ok I still want to do that, but I am taking one step at a time without thinking too much about the end result), I am allowing more flow into my life as well. I’m still trying to become friends with being clever, as I think there is nothing wrong with being clever if you do it for the right reasons. Or so I think..

Author: Elisabeth Kolstad

I am a kundalini yoga teacher and writer in Bergen, Norway.

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