A coaching colleague recently asked this intriguing question in a private online forum. Here’s my answer:
QUESTION: When you realize your head is up your ass and has been there for quite some time, how do you go about the process of removing it and moving on with your life?
ANSWER: What a wonderful question! It’s actually an essential question for those of us born with heads and asses. We do indeed stick our heads up there from time to time. How to remove it and move forward is essential to the ability to live bravely, fully, and joyfully.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Give yourself a big gold star for realizing where your head is. Our proprioception–an inner GPS that lets us know where our body parts are without seeing them–is especially challenged when our heads are up our asses. Not only is it dark in there, we’re in a state of utter confusion. Many of us spend a lot of time with our heads in that dark crevice and never even know it. So recognizing that your head is up your ass requires accurate proprioception under extremely challenging circumstances. Congratulations!
2. The removal process is done in a straightforward way and with the kind of tenderness you’d use with your bewildered elderly aunt with dementia when she’s wandered out of the nursing home and gotten lost. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient. The extraction might be a little painful, so remind yourself of the great pleasures and possibilities awaiting you.
3. Welcome all emotions as you go about your task—rage, tears, anger, sadness, fear. Whatever arises is perfect. Feel it all the way through. Run, howl, growl, wail, and dance it out of your body. Shake your fists and stomp your feet. Some ugly, discordant music can be very useful. This is all best done once your head is freed from your ass.
4. Don’t waste any time or energy telling yourself that your head should never have gotten up your ass in the first place, how you knew better than to put it there, how you didn’t listen to your body, did it again, ignored your intuition, blew off the red flags, etc., etc., etc. Coulda, shoulda and woulda will only keep your head firmly stuck right where it is and delay your progress. Don’t do it.
5. Same goes for blaming others—don’t waste your time or energy. It doesn’t matter one whit that someone else lied, tempted, cajoled, fooled, cheated or tricked you to into putting your head up your ass. Blame is a distraction. Whatever shameless, exploitative, narcissistic, or manipulative thing anyone else did is done and over. File it under “Good to Know” and move on.
6. At least for now, don’t spend time pondering how your head got up your ass, how to keep it from getting up there again, or any of the larger lessons that can be learned from your adventure. The deeper meaning and the life lessons will reveal themselves when your head is completely out of the dark and your eyes have readjusted to the light. Then you can look back with curiosity and wonderment and maybe even learn something.
7. Celebrate! Celebrate that you have a head and an ass and that they found each other! Celebrate that hard as your head tries to convince you that it has all the answers, it really doesn’t, and now you have rock solid evidence that many of your other assumptions can safely be rejected! Celebrate that on some level, your ass was only trying to help out by providing a refuge! Celebrate that your spirit has been in search of experience and has achieved it’s goal! Celebrate the Holy Fool that you are!
8. Reconnect with the most luminous parts of yourself–your heart, your soul, your essence. Go for a walk in nature. Buy flowers. Sing in the shower. Look for the beauty all around you. Inspiring commencement addresses are particularly useful right now. Like a recent college graduate, your head has been stuffed to the brim with learning, but you don’t quite know how you are going to use it in the world. Revisit books, poems, quotes or works of art that moved you in the past.
Once you’re purring along nicely again in your beautiful life, realize that it’s probably not the last time this will happen. Putting our heads up our asses seems to be an inevitable part of the human experience. We forget, misjudge, goof up, and inevitably do it all over again. Successful living is more about process than avoidance—put head up ass, notice, remove, rebuild, learn, repeat. Over and over through a lifetime.
It’s not a bad way to live if, over the course of time, we can we discover it more efficiently and get it out with more dignity and aplomb. The sooner we just go ahead and admit it and begin the extraction and rebuilding process, the greater the chance our head will stay firmly upon our shoulders more of the time where it does us the most good.
Happy New Year!