Next time you look in the mirror, consider that your features are a collection of all your ancestors.
Traits have been handed down from generation to generation, skipping around playfully in recessive alleles, or sometimes drawing a straight line of dominance from origin to what you see reflected back to you. Your genetics tell a long story.
What you have received from your ancestors in appearance is much more apparent than what you have received in temperament, talent, preference, etc., but it is all there, encoded.
In the nature versus nurture conversation, all of this comprises your nature.
This genetic concoction took all of history to manifest in you. Your nature is your inheritance.
And then, upon your conception, nurture gets a turn at the wheel. It is easy to imagine nurture’s window of influence to end with childhood. I am tempted to envision myself as a dependent, as a baby being doted over wrapped in swaddling clothes.
When I think of myself being nurtured in a certain way, images of my parents come to mind. When I think of how nurture affects my development, I am less likely to call to mind the choices I made for myself yesterday, and how they effect today.
Albeit, the nurture window is still wide open.
The Nature VS Nurture Debate…Except What People AREN’T Saying
My growth, my development, the nurturing of my potential was not always my responsibility, but as an adult it appears it is mine, and mine alone, entirely.
Thank God. I am so happy and grateful to have ownership of my life.
How fortunate I am to have complete sovereignty over how I am nurtured. I do, and so do you.
An important couple in my life have a plaque over their hearth that reads, “Where much is given, much is required.” Your sovereignty is a great gift.
We had no authority over our nature, but in this moment, as the poem Invictus concludes, we are the masters of our fate, we are the captains of our souls. In order to nurture ourselves well, much is required.
In this day and age, as we have been turned into products ourselves, being in the world and not of the world is a great responsibility. To turn the Spiderman quote on its axis, with great responsibility comes great power.
Marianne Williamson wrote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…”
We are powerful beyond measure. However, if you want to see the full extent of your magic, intentionality is mandatory.
The Intentional Nurturing of Self
Let us start with our responsibility, our power, that is, the intentional nurturing of self. Let us recognize that we are not taking this responsibility as seriously as is warranted.
One reason for this is fear, as Marianne suggests. Another reason, one that is quite common in my experience, is ignorance. I can only fix what I realize is broken, and some missteps in my self-management can be chocked up to a lack of awareness. This is a process of slowly waking up to the ways we are diminishing ourselves, and carefully developing healthier habits.
This is a process of learning, albeit the real learning often succeeds conscious unlearning.
We all have a small section of our brains called the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is responsible for motor control, motor learning, executive functions and behaviors, and emotions. If you have ever arrived at work without being able to remember your drive, your basal ganglia is responsible.
Your ritual behaviors are coded into this section of your brain until they can be carried out unconsciously. Some things that you have habituated have retreated into the unconscious mind, and you do not realize that you are doing them.
Some of these things are diminishing your magic.
In order to take the intentional nurturing of self adequately seriously, you must become aware of your emotions, curious of their origin, observant of the facts, and intentional about the solution.
Here are a couple examples of how I have recently taken more ownership of my life:
I have not watched a horror movie in years. Apparently, the allure of horror movies is hijacking your fear centers and experiencing emotions one does not commonly experience in regular life. This makes me wonder if horror movies could become a substitute for getting out of my comfort zone and experiencing fear in a constructive manner. Even if this is not founded in reality, I know for a fact I sleep a lot better when I read or fall asleep to something pleasant.
I bought an alarm clock. I found that when I would turn off my phone alarm in the mornings, about 50% of the time I would begin scrolling social media, texts, emails and work forums before I got out of bed. Then, before my feet touched the ground I would be plunged into whatever drama the world felt like dishing up. It was always dramatic. I was starting my day as a product of the world, rather than a loving being merely in the world. Since switching to this alarm clock, by the time I pick up my phone, I have gone for a walk, read scripture, exercised, journaled and gotten a fair chance at starting my day well.
I gave up caffeine. There are a lot of things doctors, therapists, priests, counselors and other leaders would deem normal. Anxiety, depression, fatigue, and stress, to name a few. Just because they are normal does not mean I ought to be okay with having them. The same goes for caffeine. Caffeine is a drug, despite its normalcy. Being caffeinated had become my normal state, so much so that I had left behind my natural state. A month or so into its elimination, I returned to a body aware of its energy levels. If I was wired, I was wired on gratitude. If I was tired, I could identify that my body needed food, or water, or rest. If my body was asking for rest, I obliged. I decided to no longer live artificially awake.
I have a lot of ideas of where I can be intentional next. I intend to do a sober month, a month only listening to Christian or other positive music, give up media news, and others, which I will decide once I become aware of where the need lies.
First, You Must Choose to Nurture Yourself
The ways you choose to nurture yourself could vary from these. These are just ideas.
The point is more to inspect your life for where your basal ganglia has habituated default rhythms. Take a good look at the fruit in your life.
Are you happy, healthy, joyful, and connected to the love of which you are created?
Or are other things normal? Are your friendships rich and nourishing, or are they negative and toxic? How is your heart? Open and buzzing with appreciation, or closed and protected?
How are you?
Answering this question and identifying where you want to change will point toward where you are running a default program. With a little digging, you will find where you can nurture yourself more intentionally.
I invite you to take some time and consider what triggers dis-ease in your life. Without being harsh on yourself or others, what is an intentional action you can take?
Matthew is temporary and finite, but his soul is with yours for eternity. He is an explorer of truth, a dissolver of fear, a destroyer of illusion, and a guide toward love. He is here for you and with you to participate in experiencing God’s highest and best for all creation. He believes in the loving God, the fellowship of the Son, and the influence of the Holy Spirit as the third eye within every cell of his body. He is here to expand, to be seen, to share his experiences, and to evolve together.