Destruction, Self-Sabotage, and the Dance of New Life

“Would that it take something less than fierce grace to break us open” – Elizabeth Lesser

I’ve been thinking about the slippery concept of destruction lately and how it relates to the human experience. The word destruction typically has only negative connotations in western society but that’s not true of the concept throughout cultures and time. In the instance of Yoga I am familiar with the Dance of Shiva. Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction. This is not a meaningless kind of destruction of simply tearing things apart, but rather the kind of destruction that burns away the dead underbrush to allow for new life to grow.

I have wondered about my own destructive tendencies at times. There have been occasions in my life when I found a problem too sticky or too difficult to face in a linear direct way and so my subconscious turned my behavior destructive in an attempt to force me to look at the very truth that I was trying to evade.

We usually label this process self-sabotage but each knows that the thread weaved through self-sabotage is truth in twisted form pushing its shoots up through the crack in our composure.

So what is the lessen and the gift in self-sabotage? When you find yourself drawn to doing something destructive what if you tried peeling back the cover on that behavior to see what might be the new growth underneath desperately trying to push itself up through your resistance?

I think usually it’s fear we see first, but what is behind that fear? Although the process of destruction is usually painful, scary and dark, I’m thinking maybe it’s only bad in direct proportion to how little we understand about what is trying to be born. Once we know then we can see that process as a birth rather than the writhing agony that it appears to be on its surface if you don’t know what’s going on.

We can of course miss the lesson. I certainly have, more times than not. But if you glance in the rear view mirror some time down the road you can usually see that new patch of forest bright baby green gently swaying in the breeze. The fire was there to make it possible when you couldn’t face it head on.

* “Care take this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit the evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now. You are not some disinterested bystander. Exert yourself.” ~ Epictetus

* Thank you for the quote goes to Meredith.

**Related Reading Slowing Down for Sufferinga great post about how in slowing down we can learn what is causing suffering and face it head on rather that putting it off to time or someone else.

This entry was posted in Courage, Evaluation, Habits, Happiness, Health, Self Esteem and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Destruction, Self-Sabotage, and the Dance of New Life

  1. Lindsey says:

    I love love love that quote … xox

  2. You said it all so perfectly. And thanks for the poem credit! 🙂
    Elizabeth Lesser is one of my favs as well. I recently attended a 3-day workshop with her at Omega and it was transformative.
    X Meredith

  3. Amy Whelan says:

    First off, I have to say, Kathryn, I simply love your blog. The beauty and honesty reflected in your writings are uplifting. Thank you. I like to believe that Kali (hindu goddess of creation, but also considered the destroyer) is in my court a lot. The idea of destroying what’s not working is essential, scary–yes–but absolutely essential.

    When destruction shows up in my life, the first thing I want to do is shun it. But when I can truly, honestly, and quietly contemplate what it is that is being destroyed, it’s usually a pattern of behavior that no longer works for me.

    One behavior that I’ve had to destroy, then rebuild is my visceral reaction to authority figures. I used to feel that if authority figures acted with less grace than I expected, I would let them know just how deplorable their behaviors were–totally not seeing that my behavior was equally deplorable.

    Now, when I speak with authority, I use the utmost respect–because truly we all deserve that (even the ones we don’t think do–especially those!) So instead of burning bridges, I burn down dead foliage to use as fertilizer for new growth.

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