Wednesday Bubble: Go deeper than the symptom

Posted by on Oct 29, 2008 in emotions | 1 comment

Too often we find ourselves paying attention to what we want to “do” as opposed to what we want to “be.”  I’m not referring to the smaller “be,” as in, I want to be a ____ when I grow up. But rather, the intrinsic yearning that forms the fabric of our souls and lays the foundation for our footing.

I spoke with the extraordinarily gifted Patti Digh last week to discuss her book, 37 Days, and try to gain some insight into the book’s messages. Patti shared much of the magic behind her words and our conversation was so inspiring and provocative that I have decided to break up the interview into several posts.  Today, I’d love to share with you what Patti said about yearning and how it defines who were are.

So what does Patti mean when she says “go deeper than the symptom?”

“I do a lot of work around story,” explains Patti, adding that author Robert Olin Butler once said that “story is yearning meeting an obstacle.” She describes meeting lots of folks during her book tour and having conversations about what it is that they yearn to do. Not be, but do, the bigger picture if you will. For example, “it’s not so much that I want to open a gift shop,” she says, “but there’s a yearning below that.”

The challenge lies in gaining a larger sense of what the yearning is that is driving the desires and also, what the obstacles are.

When was the last time you stopped yourself from doing something because of lack of money or time or overcommitments? And do you truly believe that these are the real obstacles or is there something larger lurking below the surface that is keeping you from moving forward?

“A lot of times we stay at the surface of things and we don’t go below that to [explore] what’s beneath that, and beneath that, and beneath that,” notes Patti.

In essence, what Patti is describing is the distinction between the self and the soul. Not surprisingly, her book has been described by critics as a “soul-help” book. But what does this truly mean?

“I think that self is a construction of sorts that we learn very early in life to create to protect ourselves, to ingratiate ourselves to others, to play, to perform in the world that we find ourselves living in. So I think that there’s a deeper part of us that is untouched by that and if you can tap into that, you are better able to blossom and hold space for who you are.” Self, on the other hand, is more ego-driven and a barrier to soul and the connections to ourselves and others.

Within each of the book’s six sections are essays, followed by an action step, often a writing exercise, that allows the reader to tap into process of change, and then a movement challenge, which for all intents and purposes, provides a strategy to move abstract thought or change into reality so it becomes a permanent part of your fabric.

Start with “I”

In the second chapter of 37 Days, appropriately named “Start with I,” Patti writes that she stepped back from three years of writing and suddenly “saw patterns of colors, lines, contexts, and meaning that never existed while on the ground.” Perhaps patterns keep emerging because we keep not seeing them, she says. What would happen if you suddenly started to inhabit your life, rather than living right on the surface?

So ask yourself, as Patti did: What is holding you back from fully participating in your own life?  And when was the last time you gave up the”self” to “go below the symptom?”

So today, I am challenging myself to stop waiting for permission, throw away the excuses and start breaking down the barriers that prevent me from defining my yearning and stepping into my full potential. I am going to start by taking care of the “I.”

What about you? Why not try to dip your toes, even if it’s baby steps. Today, go deeper than the symptom.

One Comment

  1. 10-30-2008

    This sounds like an interesting book. I really like the way you write, by the way. Thoughtful posts.


  1. Masking tape..more from my interview with Patti Digh « Flashfree - [...] tape..more from my interview with Patti Digh In the post, Go deeper than the symptom, I talked about wonderful self-growth…

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