Do we already have the secret to wellness? Performance psychologist Gerry Hussey says we all do – we just need to know how to access it
There is a danger that we might think wellness is something we get by following a plan, an exercise regime or taking the advice of the latest guru. All these things are external supports that tweak and tailor but real and lasting wellness is not an external thing. The secret to our personal wellness is held and caused by nobody but ourselves. It is an internal relationship of self-discovery, awakening, encouragement and above all, compassion. The relationship we have with our inner thoughts and emotions is where wellness starts and ends. Wellness is about awakening and reconnecting with our own inner light and our inner spark. It’s a return to simplicity and to the things that allow us to shine brightest.
The power of the human spirit
At our very core, before we learned to speak different languages, learned different skills, before we learned to compare ourselves to others and before we learned fear or self-judgement, we all shared and connected with the same thing: human spirit. Human spirit is by far the most powerful, most resilient, most loving, most forgiving, most creative thing on this planet and it has been given to you in full. You have had it since the day you were born. And the great news is if your heart is still beating, then you still have it. Before we had language, or jobs or cars or houses or skills, we had the gift of the human spirit. This human spirit allowed us to connect with those around us; it allowed us to form strong relationships based on love and vulnerability. A baby captures our attention and transforms our emotions by its openness, its realness and its vulnerability. A baby doesn’t try to be perfect, or to look or speak in a certain way, it’s simply too busy being real and being human. When we are most real and most human, we are our most beautiful and our most connected.
As babies, we learned to walk using nothing but the human spirit. No 21-day plan, no fitness or lifestyle guru, no 15-point strategy. We simply saw what we wanted. We allowed the love of what we wanted to motivate and drive our actions. We placed the love of what we wanted above all else and above the fear of failure. We didn’t wait for the perfect time, we simply let our hearts fill with the love of what we wanted. When love fills your heart, bravery comes quickly after and you had the bravery to stand up.
As we learned to walk we fell, but we got back up. When we fell we didn’t give out to ourselves, we didn’t worry about what other people thought of us and we didn’t look for reasons to justify not trying again. We simply allowed the love of what we wanted to be more important than anything else. We continued to adapt and try new ways until we discovered the most important thing: balance. We discovered that balance is the starting point of everything.
We learned to stake one step and then another and then another. We became so excited and so proud of each little step that we allowed that sense of pride and achievement to fuel and inspire the next step and without even knowing it we were up and running.
What are the learnings of your baby self?
- You have the human spirit in abundance
- You have always had it, it’s not something you have to earn or deserve, you either accept it or hide it
- The human spirit is a powerful, motivating, compassionate thing capable of achieving incredible goals
- It allows you to form powerful, connected, loving relationships by being present, real and vulnerable
- By learning to walk you proved that you are intrinsically motivated, resilient and adaptable when driven by the things you love
- Fuelled by each little step, you turned your inner voice into your inner coach
As we walked we discovered new things, like mirrors. If you have ever witnessed a baby discover themselves for the first time, realise that the person looking back is actually themselves, you have witnessed something special. For hours, days and weeks, the baby will look in the mirror and connect with themselves. If you have seen this happen you will know it’s a relationship based on excitement, wonder, amazement, curiosity, laughter, pride. So before you go chasing the secret of wellness, ask yourself what was it that allowed your baby self to be full of life, so resilient and to learn and adapt so quickly.
Where to start:
1. Lots of sleep, eight to 10 hours every night.
2. Simple, wholesome food and just enough of it.
3. A baby plays a lot: undirected fun and self-expression.
4. A baby laughs a lot: 200 or 300 times a day.
5. A baby feels deeply loved.
Which of these five do you have in abundance? Which are you lacking? That’s the answer right there. Have you eaten or drank something in the last few days that you wouldn’t give to a baby? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you laughing and playing enough? Do you feel deeply loved by yourself? Even if a baby is given good food and good sleep but deprived of play, laughter and love, how do you think they would develop? Is that how you are developing?
Each and every one of us once looked in a mirror and saw wonder, excitement and pride. Is that what you see now? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and the only emotion you felt was pride and love? What and who changed this? What if the foundation of wellness is the relationship you have with yourself?
Thoughts, emotions and beliefs
The beliefs, thoughts and emotions we hold internally are the driving force not just behind our actions but are at the very centre of our wellness or sickness. The emotions we hold change us at every level. Physically and chemically, our thoughts and emotions are driving our wellness and our illness by flooding our systems with chemicals and neurotransmitters like cortisol, serotonin and dopamine. While very helpful in small doses, these chemicals and neurotransmitters become corrosive and destructive if not regulated. If we live a life where we allow ourselves to be constantly activated and busy, hold emotions of fear or attack, we are eating ourselves up.
We are not built for this constant activation. We are built to be still and to be present, to be alive. When we breathe, it is important that we pause at the start and end of each breath. Pausing gives rhythm, depth and flow. If we don’t pause when breathing, we either suffocate or hyperventilate. If you are not regularly pausing in life, you are either hyperventilating or suffocating. As a human being, what is it that you are actually being?
Exercise regimes that constantly push us to our limits are often expressions of inner anger and an inner belief that we need to be punished. Diets and nutritional plans that deprive us and teach us that food is the enemy are often based on inner fear or a feeling that our body needs or deserves to be deprived or starved. We can take diet and exercise to an unhealthy extreme.
Your inner self
Health and wellness has nothing to do with starvation, deprivation or constantly pushing ourselves to the limits – these things are more to do with inner fear, anger, guilt or shame. While food and exercise are an important part of wellness, so is balance. We can’t engage in diets or exercise routines that are simply another (socially acceptable) way of expressing an internal destructive emotion. If we find that we have a tendency to be emotionally angry or fearful, developing an exercise or eating pattern that allows and increases these negative emotions is simply adding to our ill health. A healthy body in the absence of a healthy mind and a healthy spirit is like painting a wall when the bricks of the wall are crumbling.
Sometimes we need to climb mountains; yes, climb big scary mountains and feel the exhilaration. Sometimes we need to be still and silent and admire its beauty from afar. There are not enough mountains or triathlons on this planet to satisfy an angry human spirit that’s terrified of standing still.
Facing your fears
Ultimately our lives go in the direction of the stories we tell ourselves, or more importantly, in the directions of the stories we choose to believe. What are the stories you are telling yourself right now? Are they imprisoning or positioning you? What is the fear or anger you hold that is keeping you unwell?
The truth is, and I have learned this from years of running away and trying to mask the real issues, if the relationship you have with yourself is an unhealthy one, then no 21-day plan is going to fix it, no green juice can counteract the acidity of a toxic self-image, and no superfood is going to counteract the self that’s intent on eating itself up with anger, fear or guilt.
You cannot outrun the things that are in your head and in your heart. Compassion is the ultimate green juice and love is the ultimate superfood. Our world does not need more training plans or more fitness regimes. Real healing and health is not about more drive or determination. It’s about compassion and forgiveness. Our inner world especially needs it. Our external world is a reflection of our internal world and our external relationships become reflections of the relationship we have with our inner self. When we can love and forgive ourselves, we can love and forgive others.
We are 3D printers. We externally project and manifest the things we think about and the emotions we hold. Our world will not be healed by constant transformation; it will be healed by returning to our source, by reconnecting with our inner spark and reigniting our human spirit. Our world is craving simplicity and love. We all have a responsibility to our inner self, our baby self. We have a responsibility to care for and protect our baby self and become an expression of its fullest potential.
The real definition of success, of a life well lived, is when you come face to face with your baby self: will they be proud of the person they became? Are you proud of you? Are you living a life you are proud of and are you living a life that represents the very best of you? If you deeply loved and cared for your baby self, would you speak to yourself the way you do? Would you work the way you work, eat the way you eat and live the way you live?
If you wanted to make your baby self proud, what changes would you make? If you aren’t already making these changes, what is holding you back? What is the belief you hold about yourself that is keeping you in the place you are? What are the beliefs you hold about yourself that are keeping you in a job you don’t like/a relationship that doesn’t make you happy?
Changing our inner beliefs, opening and awakening our inner self is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Remember, lifestyle is made up of two very important words: life and style. Believe it or not, our life expectancy is 900 months. We sleep 300, leaving 600. Life is short. Style is the other word. Right now, are you living your 900 months in a style that makes you proud?
Our inner relationship is the key to our health. Go rediscover, reawaken your inner, beautiful self, because love and humanity are the keys to the kingdom of wellness.
This article first appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Irish Country Magazine. Re-published here with permission from the author, Gerry Hussey.