The Art of Accomplishment: Finding the Lover Inside & Befriending Anger
At its essence, the Art of Accomplishment is a journey to discover the person inside that’s waiting to love you. It’s 8 weeks of exercises that help to wipe away the makeup. It’s about wiping away the makeup to find the scar underneath, to face the scar, and let it heal by simply acknowledging it.
Above all, I wanted to improve my self-compassion. I had done some learning on my own but I knew I had blockers. I had limiting beliefs and plenty of self-doubt. I knew my mindset was the root of my problems.
The TL;DR of How I Feel After the Course
Through this experience, I learned to love myself in a new way. I learned how subtle ways of perfectionism get in the way of connecting with others. I learned to tap into my intuition. I learned to feel empowered by questioning what I have to lose. I now understand how fear molds me into different characters. I learned to trust myself. I learned the power of joy as a tool, I learned the power of anger as a tool. I learned to view my emotions as a gift. Most notably, I learned that I am good.
And perhaps most importantly for me, I learned that self-love leads to self-improvement, not the other way round–and it’s effortless. Let me say that again, self-love leads to improvement, naturally, not the other way round.
So many years of engaging in the reverse–that if I improve, “they” will love me more.
Befriending My Gut
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways of the course was learning that we all have a wise intuition inside that is accessible. I always thought tapping into it will take loads of training but I was struck that we were able to access it from week 1. I realised that for as long as I can remember I have been silencing my intuition. I’ve wanted to be seen as rational, right, level-headed, reasonable and objective. The price I paid for this was ignoring my intuition for fear of being subjective.
This price is actually incredibly high because no one knows better than my intuition what is best for me, what I want and how I react to things. It’s a computer at my service doing rapid and deep analysis and has my interest in mind.
At its essence, the intuition is simply the wise-me that can discern things in a simple, bullshit-free way. It’s deeply disappointing when I ignore it and listen to other people’s incomplete observations and opinions instead. And what I learned is that all of these symptoms, such as low confidence, lack of self-belief, self-doubt and lack of self-compassion, they all come down to not choosing that voice. Which leads to not establishing a loving relationship with it and therefore with myself.
When I reflect on why I want so badly to be seen as objective and “right”, I notice that in my mind I correlate being right with being likeable. So essentially, I choose other people’s affinity for me, over my love for myself! Which ironically, makes me less likeable.
Befriending Anger – Being Wanted by Society
Anger has become my new found friend, a sage source of love that wants to protect me. Anger tells me what boundary was crossed. It’s a powerful source of wisdom. I learned that in my conditioning to prevent the expression of anger, I turned to sadness instead. The anger had to go somewhere so it turned inwards and made the inner voice abusive. By releasing the anger, I stand up to the abuse that led to the anger, and in doing that, I stand up to the abuse in my head.
What prompted one of my most powerful anger sessions was just a regular day where I was feeling annoyed. Having learned that I have a huge backlog of stuck anger, I was looking for opportunities to release it. I was getting annoyed at small things at work. Reading through some API documentation I was getting annoyed that I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I took the opportunity. I started saying “fuck, fuck, fuck” and hitting a pillow. I didn’t have much energy at first but I started saying out loud what was bothering me. I was annoyed at others wasting my time, I was annoyed at some timezone shit I was working on, I was annoyed at being annoyed.
Slowly I got angrier and angrier until this sentence came to me: “I want to be a white man”, and then it turned into “I want to be a high performing white man”. I was faced with the deepness of the pain of not belonging, not being what society most favours. It brought back memories of being rejected by my male cousins who I grew up closely with. I was the only girl and they would say things like “girls can’t play football”. I realised in some ways I was recreating the same in-group/out-group dynamics of my childhood. I wanted to be like my male peers who seem to get the recognition that I was seeking. I was angry.
Then I had a moment of clarity. This is the wisdom that I was alluding to earlier. I laughed at the ridiculousness of a world being full of vanilla-flavoured ice creams and how boring the world would be without people like me. That felt kind of cheesy, like I was trying to see the silver lining. But as I thought about it deeper I realised it’s true. I also reflected on what it was about white men that I lacked and wanted for myself. When I say “white men”, I’m massively generalising, I’m mostly thinking of the ones I come across in tech, climbing and on Twitter.
What is unique about this subset of society is that they tend to approach life and challenges with an “I can” attitude. This attitude is the unintentional side effect of growing up as the most valued majority demographic. They are raised to believe they can, so they try and indeed can, further strengthening their belief that they can. The cycle is further perpetuated by others also believing this about them.
I on the other hand often approach challenges with an “I don’t know if I can” or even “I don’t think I can” attitude. This is a huge distinction. Life is much more about “attempting things” than it is about the outcomes. An “I can” attitude results in more attempts and ultimately increases the odds of the desired outcomes. So what I realised is that this is a “learned” behaviour, something that I too can learn, without the need to give up my authenticity to try to be someone I’m not.
Befriending Anger – Acceptance
Prompted by the realisation that many of the exercises lead me to issues around acceptance, I had another powerful anger session. I was reminded by an experience of injustice. My sibling had been accepted for something that I was starkly rejected for. It was amidst the heatwave, I’m sweating and punching a pillow with the fan drying up the sweat, it was pretty comical. But the anger was so healing, I had told myself that it was all in the past, but every punch made me realise the rage was alive and kicking. I realised, we are walking around life carrying all this rage inside, this rage that’s ready to leap out into the world the moment we allow it.
By being angry, instead of letting myself collapse into tears, I was able to go from victimhood into empowerment. I finally acknowledged that what I had experienced was unjust. I had previously thought that by admitting it was unfair, I would be victimising myself (after all life is unfair). However, what I didn’t realise is that I did feel like a victim deep down. By acknowledging that it was indeed unfair, I no longer felt like a victim. And the clarity that came with that was “I don’t need acceptance to love myself”.
Befriending Anger – Being Punctured by School
I have so much rage that despite having at least 4 anger sessions about school, I still haven’t reached any clarity. I could be having a seemingly mild anger session then I suddenly think of my school and my anger goes up by 10x.
My family and I moved to London when I was 10, where I started my secondary school. I hated that place. I couldn’t speak English at first and there was a huge culture clash. I didn’t have friends for the first 2 years and I would get bullied but I didn’t know how to defend myself. I felt deeply let down by my teachers who never defended me. I even hated the building. I remember praying every morning that it would be a good day at school. Once again, I’ve never acknowledged this, I didn’t want to be seen as victimising myself. After all, most people have had a bad time at school. But the anger sessions have shown me that this needs acknowledging.
Even in a psychedelic trip I’ve written about in the past, I had a very odd experience related to school. I saw the main part of the school building as a large black dragon-like creature with icky bumpy skin that had a horrible feeling to it. I was the only one there and it captured how lonely I felt at school. And the icky feeling is perhaps similar to the dread I felt in the mornings going into school. I hope to get some clarity and move on one day.
Befriending My Emotions
I want to finish this off by acknowledging my renewed appreciation for emotions. I now see them as messengers.
- Fear ensures my safety
- Shame wants belonging
- Anger protects me
- Sadness soothes me
- Joy calms me
- Love sees me
Experiencing the intention behind each emotion has helped me see them as guides rather than something to avoid or chase.
“Joy is the matriarch of a family of emotions. She will not enter a house where her children are not welcome.” - Joe Hudson
I’d love to connect on Twitter. If any of this resonated, I’d love to hear from you.