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Day 80: Bringing up the Anchors

January 2, 2024

What I learned...finally...is that the mind is useless when it comes to anything significant because it is how you create illusions."

It’s funny how old lessons phrased a different way feel like new lessons!

This morning I stumbled onto the work of Caroline Myss. Her name is still so new to me, I don’t know anything about her but needless to say, I’ll be finding out. After spending just 20 minutes listening to her speak, I felt as though a veil had been lifted and I could see things more clearly than ever before.

Stories, wounds and anchors

There’s a popular rhetoric in the self-help world that goes: You create your own reality. But that’s not quite true. You don’t create reality. You filter reality through your mind, bending and breaking it, changing its colour and texture, erasing parts of it and distorting other parts.

But that’s not creating it. What it is doing is giving you a version of reality that’s different from anyone else’s because nobody else has lived your life. Nobody has your experiences, felt your feelings or gotten stuck in the exact same places in your history where you have gotten stuck.

This is why one person can think something is a BIG deal while someone else can think the same thing is entirely insignificant. 

I’ve explored this idea in the past and talked about how our BIG reactions are often due to something I always referred to as “time travel” – that thing we do where we jump to the past and replay memories or jump to the future and imagine things going a particular way. It’s this phenomenon that leads us to bellow at our children as though they’d just skinned the cat because they’re refusing to put on their shoes. We’ve completely exited the present moment and we’re reacting to the ten thousand previous times we’ve had the same conversation, or we’ve jumped to an hour from now when we’re late for work and have to join the meeting late…again! 

Caroline Myss talked specifically about about the jumps to the past and called them “anchors” – the things we stay attached to. The more of them we have, the more stuck we can begin to feel. We start feeling powerless to make changes in our lives, frustrated by tiny things and overwhelmed by almost everything that isn’t exactly how we want it.

It’s not reality that’s causing things to feel so weighty, it’s the many anchors to everything we’ve failed to let go of.

But in those moments, most of us fail to detect the presence of the anchor and instead see only the story of “he did this”, “she said that,” and that’s why I’m so upset, and since we’re unaware of the anchor, we’re unaware of the choice to release it. 

In truth, even when people become aware of an anchor, they don’t always know how to release it.

Helping people let go of anchors is a huge part of my work – but my training has only ever taught me to refer to them as “wounds”.

Calling them anchors makes so much sense to me because it’s quite rare for people who haven’t experienced “capital T trauma” to think of themselves as “wounded”. I certainly didn’t identify with that word when I first heard it. Nor do I think the use of it does justice to the fact that I was raised by loving, giving, wonderful parents who did absolutely everything they possibly could have to give me an amazing life.

But ANCHORS! That I can get on board with because I sure as hell can easily spot things I held on to – beliefs, phrases, memories – that have shaped my choices. Some for better, others for worse – and releasing the ones that lead me away from a life where I intentionally bring something joyful and useful into the world is something I continue to work on.

This idea also helped me understand why we sometimes need multiple interventions to help us get “unstuck” – because we’re often dealing with more than one anchor! Like I said, I had a very happy childhood where I was loved and safe but I have hundreds of the bloody things! They’re VERY easy to acquire and nobody teaches us the art of letting go – I’m not sure any of us knew it was a skill we needed to learn. 

What does this have to do with joy?

The bit of Myss’ talk that blew my mind was where she gave an instruction. She said, “From now on, you’re not allowed to use anyone else’s name to explain your choices or actions.”

This one instruction has the capacity to open many doors towards a more joyful existence. Or at least, that’s how I see it.

Since starting this blog, I’ve written regularly about the times where my expectations, judgements and criticisms have gotten the better of me and how they’ve led me to feel blocked and stuck.

By taking away the possibility of saying, “I can’t do X because she won’t Y”, or “He said this and that’s the only reason I did that”, forces me out of blame, judgement, criticism and, most importantly, powerlessness. It forces me to find the anchor – the belief, story, memory or wound I’m unconsciously holding on to that keeps me stuck repeating the same patterns.

I’m excited by the practicality of this instruction. It’s one I intend to use and also to share with my clients. The opportunity to see beyond the illusions created by our minds is one of the most powerful catalysts for joyful living that I’m aware of but this is the first time I’ve encountered such a clean and clear way to break the illusions! 

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