Prop

How Far I Have Not Come:

To work on my mental and emotional development, I spent over a decade:

  • Writing…to clarify and organize my mind
  • In therapy…to build an understanding and develop skills for my mind

Why haven’t I seen a drastic difference with this kind of dedication over 10+ years? With the use of external support, I have seen some great changes and discovered a lot of incredibly wise insights. I truly do like the person I’m striving to become. But, when I take the external support away, I become lost and numb. It is almost as if they are an absolute necessity for me to be the changes and growths that I worked so hard on. And so, these various props are actually hesitating my growth and leaps of faith.

To make it clear what I mean by a prop and how far I have not come in my mental and emotional journey is by answering this question: am I courageous and internally strong enough to go backpacking alone? With no phone, electricity, quick distractions, or easy lifelines? Where survival and responsibility are in their raw forms? At this time, the answer is no.

Image (1)

To remove the majority of the props holding me up, I would need to entirely remove myself from society. That would give me the chance to fully grow into the true and natural me that is necessary to feel and be trusted, respectable, and independent. Leaving society is very hard to just get up and do. Instead, what I can do in this context is remove as much of the external support as possible, learn…starting from the knowledge and skill-sets of where I currently am…and, every once in a while, go on trips alone. Then, eventually, I will go backpacking by myself and hopefully see how far I have come within.

Why Not Just Take a Leap of Faith?

When involved in an experience, my mind moves quickly, gets distracted, and loses my context here in reality. To combat this, I have used props to help my mind fall more silent so I can focus and act on my needs, responsibilities, and activities. Instead of training my mind and my body to play active roles in my actions, I have been telling them to shut up…which is just like trying to stop my thoughts…or stop my emotions when grieving…it just can’t be done. It is counter-intuitive and obviously hasn’t been very effective for me in building a happy, consistent, and self-sufficient person.

When I eat, I tend to keep working when at my job, watch TV when I am at home, or find someone to eat with. When I get ready to sleep, I utilize things like short TV shows or CBD that hide or calm my mind’s side chatter so that I can realize I am actually tired and fall asleep. When getting in the social groove, I rely on my wife to break the ice and get involved in the conversation before I can comfortably come alive around everyone.

Then, when I get into a flow of that activity or experience, I remove the prop and enjoy the ride. This flow is incredible, and I usually get to bring all of me. It is like when I finally forget about being nervous when playing live music for people. I just let my voice, guitar-playing, and energy slide with the feelings of the music and its melodies. The experience becomes beautiful, natural, and unbound. Until I get distracted again…then I am frantically looking around for where my support went.

ONWARD

Today, I realized how reliant I am on external support for so many of my daily activities. I became very anxious. I was scared that I couldn’t be normal without a prop…like without them, I wouldn’t be able to survive or be free. It felt like there was a child inside of me crying out to his mom. It was like this weird grab of panic for anything that could help me feel normal, safe, and nurtured again.

But, instead of finding a prop to get me through this anxiety, I decided to take this as an opportunity to finally face (all alone) my greatest fear: being responsible and alone within my independence.

My Own, Internal Support System:

I am used to standing on my own two feet…with a prop. I am used to being able to fall into other people’s safety nets. I am used to following others and clinging to their decisions.

The one who follows the crowd

But, I am learning and choosing to let that go. I am choosing not to follow the crowd and our society’s ideals and pace…because I am where I am. And everyone else is at a different pace and place than me…so there is no reason to look too hard at where they are all going or what they are all doing. I need to realize what I know, who I am, and start experimenting from that place. I can start building internal knowledge, substance, and skills necessary in the unknown that will support my survival, needs, and potentials.

My goal is to become my own trusted resource that I respect inside. I am choosing to leap into the unknown with faith that I will support and catch myself in times of need…to build a true sense of self-reliance…to really learn how to nurture myself. That person, thing, or resource that I typically try grasping when “I don’t know…” will now be found inside of me. These resources are going to be built brick by brick from the true start.

What does it look like to take a leap of faith in each one of my activities? What does it look like without relying on a prop? What does it look like to only have what is inside to pull from when I am in a situation that may frighten or challenge me?

Sleep:

I will not exhaust you with every example that I am working on, but it is important for me to note my initial path to find these internal resources. First, I will see what the external resources used to do for me and try to apply skills within my own mind and body resulting in similar effects. Then, over time, I will see if I can innovate my internal resources beyond this initial step.

What internal resource do I need to build and develop for falling asleep? I usually use TV, cuddling, or relaxing medicine (CBD) to fall asleep easier. All of these items allow my thoughts and feelings to lay more quietly so that I can realize that I am tired…then I fall asleep. So, how can I work with my mind internally to calm it enough and actually utilize it (not hide it) to realize I am tired?

I started with what I already knew about myself and only used my mind, body, and bed as my resources. I laid on my side in a comfortable position where my feet, knees, and elbows were all sandwiching pillows to support my spine. This immediately told my body I was ready for bed. I laid there with no stimulating activity besides a mindful dedication to calmly and patiently falling asleep. I also was mindfully dedicated to locating, building, and developing the resources inside me. This quieted my side-chatter, induced a calm, helped me to catch the natural flow of my mind and focus, and I found that I was tired enough to fall asleep in the unstimulating and unknown present.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON

The cherry on top is that this is not an entirely selfish pursuit. When we are self-reliant, we support each other in incredibly sustainable and powerful ways. This world is too big and too interconnected to do this alone. And, supporting others and our communities is incredibly hard work. It is difficult to consistently love and care for our surroundings. And, this is where we will need to find the strength within ourselves to carry forward with resilience and independence.

“Song of Good Hope” by Glen Hansard:

One of my favorite musicians wrote this beautiful song about staying determined by finding the natural flow of the journey. I performed it live and I hope you enjoy. Thank you for reading and listening!

About Kevin Carlstead

I graduated as a hospitality and psychology student at University of Denver. I spent most of my teenage and young adult years in the hospitality industry. I am still searching for what industry suits my personality and talents so that I can feel more meaning throughout my days. My current career pursuit has me enrolled in a graduate program to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I love music with something to it. I love life with something to it. I have made it one of my purposes in this life to integrate both of these things that I love. This blog and my own songwriting has given me the platforms to do that very thing. Thank you for reading.
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