“Why do you climb?” I asked participants this question during a training session and invited them to write as many reasons as they could in five minutes. Since then I read an article1 by Ben Hardy which includes an exercise that asks ‘why?’ in a different way; he states the exercise will help us get to our “deepest why”, so I decided to try it on myself.
Instead of asking ‘why?’, you ask, ‘what about [insert subject] is important to you?’, which gets under the barrier of resistance that ‘why?’ can sometimes put up. You ask yourself the same question seven times, each time taking your last answer and making it the subject of the question. I drew out a blank version – there’s a photo of it above, which you could print or copy to use for yourself. Here’s my completed version:
Ben Hardy states “once you know your deepest WHY for what you’re doing, you should operate FROM THAT STATE, not from your lower and base-level reasons”. Despite other people’s ‘shoulds’ being a trigger for me, I shall rise above my reaction by first acknowledging it – garrrrrggghhhh! Don’t tell me what to do! Rrraaarrrrr! That’s better – and second, getting curious….
“I feel happier” is my “deepest why” for climbing. So, what is it like to “operate FROM THAT STATE” rather than “working out mind and body”? Well, I feel less inclined to go to the climbing wall to work out and more inclined to go to feel happier. How about “getting to know myself”? I think it’s important to note that I imagined myself climbing whilst writing my answers (and some of them took ages to dredge up; I’m feeling quite low energy at the mo), so although I could get to know myself by writing my journal or having a psychotherapy session, it’s a different kind of getting to know myself. It’s about what I’m capable of, and how my body works and feels in conjunction with my mind.
“Getting to know myself” led to “knowing when to push; when to stop”; whilst thinking about this I had several memories of different examples of what I meant: times when I’ve felt mentally unwell but pushed myself to injury, times when I’ve recognised that although I mentally wanted to climb, I was too tired or still physically ill and so I didn’t make myself climb. Thinking about it made me realise how far I’ve come in taking better care of myself and led to the next answer, “I can enjoy moving my body”, which is a relatively new thing for me. I used to haul my carcass around, but now I can enjoy the flow of moving from hold to hold and I had no idea this was even possible!
This enjoyment of moving made me aware of the “sense of choice” I have; I can move this way or that and when I feel stuck I can move a tiny bit and something might open up or I can choose to climb down or be lowered down. I have choices! This sense of choice is being reinforced at my Trauma Sensitive Yoga2 class, which iterates choice in each session and that is “empowering”. It’s “empowering” because it’s me who decides what to do with my body and I don’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of what what they want me to do, and that makes me “feel happier”.
Ben Hardy says,
Suddenly, you’re not just going to the gym to “feel good,” but because you have a higher calling to perform and need to be as healthy as possible to make it happen (or whatever your deepest WHY is). Your DEEPEST why will almost always expose something very personal about you, and about your fundamental beliefs about life.
My “DEEPEST why” doesn’t seem to have revealed a fundamental belief about life. Hmmm. Perhaps I’ll start again from “I feel happier”.
This time, I felt huge resistance as I worked my way through; I thought it was stupid until I got to “healthy community” and then the next answer made me cry as I imagined a community where we share stories and heal stuff together by dancing it out and singing, cooking and eating, and when we need alone time, that is respected. I have a deep yearning for this community. At the same time, I don’t want it because it will require me to be more open, more vulnerable, and to experience more loss because community members will come and go. Feeling more joy also allows more sorrow, but in that kind of community, we would dance and sing it out, so I guess that would be okay.
This exercise has connected me even more deeply to my vision for Wonderland, an indoor adventure playground for grown ups. I first had this vision in 2005 and it has morphed over time into an indoor climbing wall, but recently, inspired by Sharon Blackie’s If Women Rose Rooted3, I’ve gone back to my original idea of a place surrounded by wild countryside, with homegrown vegetables, sustainable materials and zero waste. I’m working on creating visuals of how it could be so that I can show them to potential funders. I’ll share more about it soon in another post. In the meantime, I highly recommend Ben Hardy’s exercise. If you have ‘mind sentries’ on duty, like I do and don’t get to a fundamental belief on the first go, give it another go and see what happens. Feel free to share your comments and/or questions with me – I’d love to receive them.
1Ben Hardy’s article, Want to Become a Multimillionaire? Do These 15 Things Immediately is here. Accessed 02.05.18 12:41.
2The Trauma Sensitive Yoga class is run by Alex Cat in London.
3If Women Rose Rooted, Blackie, S., 2016, September Publishing, Tewkesbury. This book is about the power of ancient Celtic stories in relation to women recovering power and the mutual respect of the feminine and the masculine.