We experience rigidity when, instead of the different parts of us leaning on each other and providing integrity like the beams in a truss, they work at cross purposes. We end up locked in frustration when the different parts of us don’t trust each other and argue until one of the parts asserts itself at the expense of the others. For example, the teenager self in us might want to go out with friends tonight. The old lady self is afraid of feeling too introverted and being a party pooper.

The balanced way is to consider all parts of self and make a considered choice not driven by fear. Sometimes you rest 100%. Sometimes you go out with friends 100%. Ebb and flow isn’t 50/50, it’s doing exactly as much as needed, when it’s needed. Sometimes you’re 100% teenager. Sometimes you’re 100% old codger.

Here’s an exercise to engage some different parts of yourself. We have a lot more than two selves, but we have only two hands. For the purposes of this, that will have to do. Get out your notebook and start a dialogue between your two hands. Your dominant hand will be your manager self, as it has been for your whole life. This is the voice of your ego. Your non-dominant hand will be the voice of your heart and the lesser-heard-from parts of yourself. You can assign different voices. For this first time through, ask to hear from your little kid self through your non-dominant hand. After all, the handwriting will probably look about like yours did when you were six anyway.

We’re doing this because you will get different answers than merely thinking about the questions. We write to help us think. We write with a different hand to help us think differently.

This is an embodied exercise. Your ego probably thinks this is a stupid idea and might try to tell you that it knows how this will go. It doesn’t. Your ego is terrible at imagining how embodied exercises will feel. You can’t imagine what skiing or roller skating feels like until you’ve done them. You can’t run a simulation in your mind and figure out these answers without actually doing this physical exercise, which is the whole reason we do them. I encourage you to set aside your doubts and spend 10 minutes on this and see where it takes you.

Here are some questions for your dominant manager to ask your non-dominant little kid heart. Switch your pen or pencil from your right to left hand as your write out the questions and answers. Don’t think too hard on these. Write whatever answer flows out immediately. If you get stuck, cast your memory back to what was really true of you back then. These are just ice breakers, so feel free to take the conversation down your own track if you find a juicy vein.

  • What’s your name?

  • How old are you?

  • Where do you live?

  • What kind of clothes do you wear?

  • What do you love to do most?

  • How can I take care of you better?

  • Do you want me to protect you? If yes, how?

  • What do you want me to let you do?

  • What do you want me to know about you?

  • What important things did I once know that I’ve lost track of?

If you’ve done this exercise before, you can assign a different aspect of yourself to your non-dominant hand. Make up your own questions. Have it be a dialogue about any parts of yourself you feel you don’t understand. For extra mood enhancement, listen to the music your non-dominant likes best.

See the light reversal > EBB & FLOW