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What Lights You Up? Fanning the Flames of Your True Self

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Beth Anstandig

I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of pressure. Okay, it’s a full blown obsession!! I have found that practicing “pressure awareness”  is a game changer in how we lead ourselves and how we show up for others.

I’ve been a lifelong student of pressure and my teachers have been my animals. Dogs and horses are always sensing and adjusting to pressure in themselves, their groups, and their environment. I’ve loved learning with them and from them because they are radically aware of pressure and wholly honest with their feedback so they can take care of themselves.

Humans don’t play with pressure, engage with feedback, or make adjustments until we hit overwhelm. That pesky thinker presents a bit of a brain glitch as it interferes with our very sensitive mammal system.  Even though we don’t fully utilize it, our pressure system sends us subtle signals all along that are incredibly helpful. Natural Leadership Awareness is all about embracing and honing that mammal part of ourselves so we have more self care tools and better relational strategies. 

Our world is certainly full of lessons about pressure these days. When pressure gets to a certain point in a system, transformation and change occurs.

We’re feeling that in so many ways. The pressures, pains, and traumas of racism and police violence have reached that tipping point and we are called to evolve, learn, repair, and heal. The pressure of a global pandemic has pushed us further into our family units and we are acutely aware of the ways our systems of parenting, partnership, and education are ready for development and rebalancing. Oftentimes, when external pressures influence us, like news, calendars, social media, family, friends, it raises our internal pressure system and we feel compelled to act. But I’ve found that taking action without discernment or an individualized stability practice is a bit like running into the street without looking both ways. 

Right now, I’m feeling huge pressure about fall approaching and needing to make parenting decisions for school. It’s mostly an external pressure, meaning that it’s the talk of the town and most parents are fiery HOT on the topic. The days are passing, the chatter is escalating, and I can feel it breathing down my neck. I can feel pulled into the debate, upset, decision making, but I don’t trust that pressure. I don’t have enough information to make a stable choice. And, I don’t have a settled enough place inside of myself to trust my own process. So I’m pumping the breaks and leaning into self-care practices. It’s counterintuitive because we’ve been conditioned to be responsive and decisive. Yet, long term decisions are best made when we are not in flight or flight. Survival brain, or trauma brain, gets us out of short term emergencies.  

Yesterday, my self-care practice was a horseback ride in the hills. Our Natural Leadership requires we bring our whole selves to the party. Doing something outdoors and moving our bodies often recruits and signals our human animal wisdom to show up. I certainly felt that as we trotted through the oak trees, tracked cows, and watched the hawks make their last passes above the hills. I took a photo of Rosie’s gorgeous red mane with the evening sun glowing through it. The moment of the photo caught my attention and evoked some powerful questions that I’m using to guide me:

  • Which inner fire do I want, the emotional inferno or the creative spark?
  • What’s it going to take to keep the good fire burning bright?
  • What can I do to stay focused on what lights me up?

It’s not that I’m going to ignore things like distance learning but I need the good fire inside of me to help me problem solve all the little fires outside of me. My inner fire burns with horses, dogs, shade trees, writing, photos, sipping coffee or tea near my new chicken friends, walks, hikes, trail rides, decorating, ranch projects, poetry, honest and open friendship time.

What helps your inner fire burn? Make sure you find your answers and put all of the resources and support you need to stay committed to yourself and to the actions and causes that matter to you. That true self fire is what drives a vibrancy and aliveness in us and it’s what inspires change in others. 



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