October 22, 2018

Shedding our Old Skin doesn’t have to be So Painful.

What do you think of when you hear the word destruction?

Most of us have a hard time having, or operating from, a mindset of destruction—especially for those of us who love to love.

If you’re reading this, you may want to make some changes in your life. And you’re in good company, because the digital age is all about inventions and reinventions of who we are, “creating new fantasies to escape into, and having new skins to shed,” as Lady Gaga puts it.

If our ability to transform is connected to our ability to destroy, then part of the work here is to release the emotions tied to the past.

But this is not what those self-help books tell us.

Now more than ever, “life-changing” content is the hot commodity, the it topic of content creators across the board—whether it’s tidying up, staying messy, give a damn, not giving a f*ck, saying yes, or saying no—because as a whole, it seems to some degree, we are all unhappy with our lives.

Yet, with all that self-help content we consume, we are none the wiser and none the happier. Because all those life-changing strategies we’re told only recolour our life by giving us a new skin, which works for a short period of time, but never truly lasts.

Also in the digital age, declarations and manifestos are a lot easier and sexier than achieving the goal.

Hence, regardless of how many “rebirths” and how many years of resolutions we’ve sworn to, we often find ourselves stuck, instead of free.

The longer we stay stuck in the inertia of conflict and confusion, the more dreams and possibilities we sacrifice, at our own hands.

When we try to reignite our fire, we think we’ve failed to change because we lack determination—a noble thought, but what we’re looking for isn’t here.

Although research has shown that our willpower must be renewed every three days, even for the best of us, this has nothing to do with willpower—it has everything to do with our ability to recognize the subconscious ideas that we fall into, end up believing, and thus live our lives to—these are the pictures that rule our days.

Our old skins or habits are imprints of these very pictures. Since much of our behaviour is driven by emotions, if we feel even slightly emotionally-connected to our old skins, or emotionally indebted to the old ideas, we will never secure real change.

Luckily, our emotions—energy in motion—is something we do have control over.

However, we usually exercise very little of this power we have, because used in its most empowering form, we will inevitably upset others, and most of us tend to avoid that kind of conflict.

At the cost of keeping our lives as they are, we are anchored to our skins via emotion, so the destruction of old skins necessitate the release of those anchoring emotions. However, this isn’t easy, and is often messy.

But if we truly want to change our lives, should we give up halfway because it gets messy, because we feel a mix of guilt and shame? Or should we learn to recognize the stages of change, and the degree of friction that will come with major life changes?

The choice is yours. My notes are below, may they be of benefit:

Recognize that our change will upset existing power structures.

Because no person is an island, when we try to change our lives, especially when we try to regain power from emotional vampires, or whatever hijacked our life, we will no doubt experience friction—this is inevitable—because any change in position will naturally cause disruptions in the overall power structure.

When we upset existing power structures, we will likely experience consequences, and this is when we tend to give in.

When we upset too many people, we tend to stop, and our efforts leading up to these changes end up futile. We retract back to our old skin, and we wonder why we’re stuck again.

The only way to not be impacted by the circumstances of the old power structure, is to burn that structure to the ground and start a new life, far away from those ashes.

Every invention not only is an act of creation, fundamentally, it is an act of destruction.

While there are real limitations and constraints that come with attempting to change the directions of our lives, being held back by the shackles of the old power regime is not something we need to bend to.

The whole point of changing our lives is to cut those chains to what no longer serves us.

That means instead of giving in to the old ideas, instead of stretching back our old skins, we destroy them.

Do you ever see butterflies hanging out with caterpillars? No, and nature is very telling that way, because once you are able to fly, with all the freedom, space, and speed that comes with the power and new lifestyle of flight, why would you want to stay stuck in the slow pace of crawling on the ground?

Insects are smarter than us this way. Do you think the free flying butterflies ever miss the days of being a slow crawling caterpillar?

So why do we hold onto those old skins with so much nostalgia?

Oliver Sacks once said that, “Every memory is an act of imagination.” And that’s true, because if things were that great in the past, as we have imagined it to be, there would be no reason for us to want to change our lives.

So most of my life I had spent searching, and most of my life I had been confounded.

Growing up third culture and nomadic, I have experienced a life both richer and darker beyond my years—and consequently, I have immersed myself in self-help books for the past decade, while dissociating from, and fervently believing in, various convictions I’ve had about life.

Only until recently, did I realize the following:

The answer to changing one’s life isn’t adding on or pivoting, it’s destroying and replacing.

True and lasting transformation can only come from within, that means limiting the number of skins we have, by not shelving the old skins—but destroying them for good, and for our peace.

Until that happens, we will have a hard time recognizing ourselves with too many skins on display, and too many pictures of how it should be distracting us from what’s real.

Another problem with too many skins on display, is that they will naturally reject one another, and this is a fight where the old skin tends to win, but not by virtue—only by having deeper roots to our narratives thus far. Deeper roots mean deeper emotions, and deep-rooted emotions to the old pictures are what holds us back from our new lives.

Each skin dictates a role we play in life, and with each skin, comes a set of limitations, a code of unconscious programming, and an imprint of a subconscious picture that will rule our lives.

While life may have given us lesson after lesson of being the target of destructive forces—including self-sabotage and self-destruction—we are simply not good at the act of destroying false and old pictures.

The act of destruction goes against everything that polite society has conditioned us with.

But because the good rules are not obeyed by malevolent people, by obeying the rules, we effectively position ourselves at the disposal of those who prey and feed on our empathic sensibilities.

Transforming our lives is a journey, and like any journey in life, there are voices that can both guide us and lead us astray.

Bruce Lee once said, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

While polite society has taught us how to become better citizens, it has also made us vulnerable to the manipulations of those with darker intentions—the emotional vampires who feed on our empathy and pain.

Polite society conditioning isn’t very useful to us when we want to take charge of our own lives, so we must learn how to cultivate a healthy ability to destroy those old pictures, old skins, old habits, old rules, old affiliates, and old circles.

A burning of the past to honour our true commitment, as we embrace the new life, fully and completely.

To destroy is key, because simply letting go isn’t enough—old skins can grow legs that come back and haunt us.

Just saying no isn’t enough—evil is often more persistent than good, and time and distance can often blur our visions to what is truly in our best interest.

Through each event, and its consequent impact, we shape our lives through a compounding effect, and something as little as the echoes of the past—when compounded, can end up being the forces that derail us from our path.

While there are so many ways to change our lives—however and wherever we splice it—true and lasting transformation can only come after some intended destructions.

“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality .” ~ Earl Nightingale

May we have the strength and determination to destroy our old pictures, and release our emotions attached to those old skins—so that we nourish with repetition and emotion—only that which leads us to our next chapters, one true transformation at a time.

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Xiren Wang  |  Contribution: 13,625

author: Xiren Wang

Image: Velizar Ivanov / Unsplash

Editor: Julie Balsiger