Or, “The Fire of Familiarity”
In this article we’re going to talk about Major Plateaus.
As we talked about in Personal Plateaus Part 1, we all have plateaus. Plateaus happen at different times and in various parts of our lives.
But a major plateau is one of those turning points where we start to struggle in seemingly all aspects of our lives at the same time.
When you hit a plateau in just one area of your life, such as your health, you tend to say things such as, “Well, at least my business is going well,” or “Hey, at least I’m with the love of my life.”
But when you hit a Major Plateau it feels as if everything becomes so hard. It feels as if everything is a struggle and all that was working before stops working.
Perhaps your business takes a major hit or you suddenly lose all interest in what you were doing; you get the flu and sprain your ankle, plus your significant other announces that the relationship is over. And oh yeah, your car suddenly doesn’t want to start on the way to your great Aunt’s funeral.
These are what most of us call tough times. That, when it rains it pours syndrome.
(Side note, this is not the time to give up caffeine).
And once you’re in this state even little things start to feel like big obstacles and it becomes pretty easy to feel like just crawling into bed and staying there.
But here’s the silver lining:
Major Plateaus are one of the best opportunities we have to truly transform ourselves.
The truth is that all these “issues” are a signal that a new phase of your life is about to begin. But before a new phase can be born something must give way.
The Energy work I do with others has helped me to understand that when you hit a major plateau, underneath all the things that appear to be going wrong is the energy of an old way dying so that a new way can be born.
When we resist the energetic dying of the old ways then the issues which keep knocking us down are more likely to keep happening.
The sooner you can let go of what you have to let go of to make room for the new, the quicker you can move off the plateau and back into flow.
There are lots of reasons we resist letting go of the old.
Fear. Or fear. Usually fear.
As human beings most of us seem to be hardwired to like things to stay the same.
Shifts away from the known trigger us, throw us into survival because what lies beyond the fire of familiarity is an unknown – a darkness – which holds those predators which might kill us.
Imagine that all you know and hold familiar is represented by a small cozy bonfire. You love that fire. It keeps you warm and safe and you know exactly what to expect when you are at that fire.
And then imagine that underneath your fire of familiarity there is an underground well of water. For some time it has been working its way to the surface. You haven’t been aware of it, though occasionally you might have sensed something is a little different about your fire. You might even have gone as far as picking up a stick and poking your fire to try and determine what’s different. But then it settles down into the familiar crackling warmth so you shrug your shoulders and hunker back down.
But then one day the water trickles to the surface and your fire begins to sputter. Now you can see the water as it starts to seep up and outward. Quickly you throw more wood on the fire. But the water is staining the sand that holds up your fire.
Then the water starts to bubble up.
It begins to douse your fire of familiarity.
What are you going to do?
Choice 1. Fight to keep your familiar fire going
This is the choice most of us make when the fire of familiarity starts to change. We can choose to stay by the fire we know and spend our time working on ways to keep it going, to save the familiar.
We might try tossing wood onto it at a faster rate even though we can see that parts of the fire are being doused and growing cold.
We might try pushing the firewood closer together so that even though this makes the fire smaller we can then try and scoop the soggy sand away to prevent more problems. But the water is spreading faster than our ability to scoop.
We might yell at the water to stop. This is when we have no idea what action to take. We’re just mad and frustrated and don’t want anything to change.
But, no matter which action we try, the water continues to eat away at our fire and eventually it becomes clear that most of it will be doused, dying down into embers and soon grow cold.
Choice 2. We can recognize that the fire has served us well and long, but it now no longer makes sense to try and keep that drowning fire going.
So we can pick up our spear and head out into that unknown, trusting that we’ll be able to handle any “predator” that comes our way as we stride toward the bigger, brighter, fresh dry fire we know lies just out of view.
Choice 2 is much more empowering and productive than choice 1. And yes, it feels like the scary choice. So much so that we may even decide to be content with a few of the remaining embers of our familiar fire, avoiding going out into that darkness at all costs.
Imagine that the water is you – a message from a part of you that you may not be in touch with, a wise part of you that knows if you can just get yourself to start walking you’ll soon find a new familiar fire that is bigger and brighter than you could have dreamed when you were sitting by your previous fire.
So the question then becomes,
how can we make it easier on ourselves to go more easily toward the 2nd more empowering choice which will lead to more bigness and brightness?
Begin with this energy truth:
Acknowledge all the energy it will take to keep fueling a fire that is constantly being doused with water. We often think that the effort it will take to overcome the fear and walk into the unknown is more than what it would take to keep our small familiar fire going. But the truth is staying at your old fire will take more and more effort for less and less return.
In other words, allow yourself to be aware of all the energy that it will take to keep fueling a fire that is constantly being doused with water.
The truth is, the amount of time and effort you have to spend to keep a drowning fire going, is far far less than it would be to take that walk into the unknown to reach a new fire.
A fire which is actually bigger, brighter, and warmer – in other words, it represents more of your true spirit, filled with amazing new parts of self that can now come out into the open.
Here’s a 5 minute Fire of Familiarity playsheet for better understanding of self.