Our bodies are not made to lie but our minds are able to not see. That is probably the definition of what gets us into trouble most of the time. Our refusal or maybe inability to look at ourselves and our lives with honesty and without judgement.
As I was writing the title of this article I couldn’t help but smile. I asked myself if something hidden in plain sight, for everyone to see, can still be called hidden. I mean, once people become aware of it, they start seeing it everywhere, in every second of their lives. Their environment suddenly becomes packed with information that they can use to navigate life or just to achieve a better understanding of their true feelings, desires and actions. Now I say “just” like having that kind of understanding is a small thing. It’s not. Not at all. Think about how much you could achieve by being perfectly aligned with your goals? And I am not talking here about any goals, but those which are themselves aligned with what I will refer to as your highest good, the best possible life for you.
But what does your environment have to do with any of that? Your feelings and desires are internal, they happen within your being. So, what valuable information could you possibly obtain from your environment? We are becoming more aware of the interconnectivity that exists between us all, between everything that is alive and everything that isn’t. Just think of how profilers can describe a criminal just by experiencing their environment, seeing what exists there, what is missing and seeing how everything is positioned, how it interacts. That is just one example but there are many others. Think of the relationship between man and nature, how a diseased environment leads to disease in humans or how an aggressive relative at a family dinner makes everybody feel uncomfortable and aggressive in return. And if you are in a pensive mood today, think of what comes first, our internal world or our external reality? Where does an issue start?
Now I can’t answer that for you as I don’t really know the answer. But what I know is that if our environment is the one that shapes us, and we are just a mould, then there is not much we can do, right? We will always be at the mercy of something or somebody else. So that is not a helpful image for me, not one that I can work with. But what if we were “powerful beyond measure” as Marianne Williamson said? What if our inner thoughts and feelings shaped our environment? Now that brings power back into our bodies, it gives us dignity and a whole lot of responsibility. I am not going to lie, it’s not a pleasant way of thinking of things, as we immediately become accountable for how our lives look like. We become empowered and therefor responsible for change. That’s a scary thought, right? But it’s the only way to move forward, doing everything you can and not thinking about the things that are outside your control.
This understanding has become to me the gift that kept on giving. I remembered my years as a political advisor and how I enjoyed looking at photos taken at official events and describing the relationships between the participants and their place in the hierarchy of the world. Once you get the hang of it it’s quite simple and this gave me invaluable information that was kept out of the press. The way our bodies are positioned in space says it all, gives away all that well-kept secret that we believe our internal world to be. The comfortable distance and body orientation between two people is an indicative of the type of relationship they have. A couple that embraces while holding each other’s gaze is a very different story than one holding hands while looking in oposite directions. It’s all information and, as I said, it’s hidden in plain sight. Our bodies are not made to lie but our minds are able to NOT see. That is probably the definition of what gets us into trouble most of the time. Our refusal or maybe inability to look at ourselves and our lives with honesty and without judgement.
Holding the space for our bodies and our environment to give us that important piece of information is vital to our well-being. So why do so many people in this world feel lost or that they are facing incredible resistance on their path to achieving their goals… if they ever get there.
I remember how a client once told me how she wanted more than anything to be in a romantic relationship. She was in her 40’s and didn’t really understand why this wasn’t happening for her. She felt sad, helpless and desperate. We set up a piece of systemic work and as soon as her father was represented she went and stood next to him, on the place that belonged to her mother. Her mother had died years back and she had taken her place, like a loyal daughter who couldn’t bear seeing her father’s pain. She had her back at the man who was represented as a possible relationship and was not interested in him at all, although he was open to her and trying to get her attention. The work showed that if she stayed married to her father in her heart she would never allow another man by her side. She buried her face in her hands and started sobbing, while remaining in that place that caused her so much suffering. She wasn’t ready to see or act.
But something very important happened that day. The woman got a glimpse of the hidden dynamic at play, the one that was preventing her from starting a romantic relationship. She at least realised that she was aligned with a very different goal and that what she perceived as being a blockage was actually a very powerful unconscious choice. I don’t know if she finally allowed that image to work within her and free her from a choice she’d made out of blind love. But at least now she had that option and there were no more excuses. No more unmerciful Gods, cruel fate or uninterested men. Only her soul, body and mind. After years of helplessness, she had become powerful.
Systemic work, as we practice it today, is all about the signals of the body and the wisdom of the space. But it’s also what I believe should be common knowledge. We all have all the tools we need to properly navigate our lives toward that highest good that we were talking about. We’ve got our bodies in our corner, helping us see, hear and sense all the necessary information that our environment triggers within us and we’ve got our environments faithfully mirroring who we are and what we stand for every step of the way.
This is something that you can practice every day by bringing awareness to your daily life, by stopping for a moment and checking with your body to see what is it that is truly telling you and if that differs in any way from the narrative of your mind. If they are in alignment, good for you! And if they are not, then which one are you going to believe, the one who can’t lie or the one who may not see?