*woo-woo warning: this is a metaphysical conversation, and it’s a little longer than normal.
“…and do it with joy!” my mother used to add whenever I’d crumple up my face and slink off to do whatever she’d asked that interrupted my reading or daydreaming—wash the dishes, polish the wooden coffee table. Whatever the task, ‘do it with joy’ meant don’t pout, look angry, or be upset about it.
It wasn’t a request. It was a demand. And it became a running demand. Later, when she shared it with my grandmother, it became a running joke.
I never thought much of it, until a few weeks ago, when I was talking to Megan, the naturopath.
I’d divulged that I am tired of my job, and I have a nagging suspicion it is time to go. But as of now, I don’t know where to go, so I just do my job.
“Sounds like you may be having issues with your third and fifth chakras,” she suggested.
The fifth chakra is associated with your throat: communication, speaking, etc. I immediately shot that down. “I’ve been speaking my truth. I write. I blog. I’m an author. I freelance,” I told her, while the phlegm that accompanies my cough began building up in my throat.
“Hmmm,” she said. “What about the third? Were you raised in a house where you were made to do things you didn’t want to?” she asked.
“I was,” I said. And then I told her about the ‘do it with joy’ story.
“Sounds a lot like going to a job you don’t like but smiling about it anyway.”
She sent me away with a lot of information, and some of it included affirmations for strengthening my third chakra, which is focused on the stomach area, and subsequently, self-esteem, personal power, and courage.
I’ve reflected on this for a month or so. What does it mean? Is her assessment valid? Is this something I should consider? I decided what Megan said is very useful, and here’s how.
When I graduated with a PhD in 2010, all family and friends saw was KG with a doctorate. However, during that time, I still suffered with the low self-worth and self-esteem that had affected my marriage. Now, it just shifted over to how I looked for jobs, and subsequently, how I dealt with academic rejection.
I received my first position a month before the semester started. Typically, candidates are vetted and offered jobs way before that. The applicant needs time to move, and the institution needs time to prepare for their arrival. I knew this because the process was explained in the first five campus interviews I’d had. By the time I was hired, my (career) self-esteem was waning.
Two years later, I attained my second job in academia, again, a month before the semester started, but the issue was it wasn’t tenure track; I consciously took a job I was overqualified for. At this point, my (career) self-esteem tanked. Why can’t I secure the job for which I’m qualified? Why won’t they pick me?
Three years later, a colleague DMd me and asked if I wanted a job. It was at a community college, which I already had a judgment about, but I said yes for varied reasons. However, accepting this job reinforced what I’d already been thinking: I’m not good enough for these high-level positions. I have no personal power in this area. When it comes to attaining academic jobs, I’m not in charge of shit! So, why even try? Before I developed a gratitude practice or learned to look at a situation from a different perspective, I simply gave up ya’ll!
But I also never resolved these beliefs about jobs in academia, which were tied to my self-esteem and third chakra. Today, I am still sitting in a job I’m overqualified for, as if I have no power to change my circumstances.
So, what happens to emotional energy if you don’t deal with or talk about the situation? People like Louise Hay, believe it stays with you and becomes stuck in the body, eventually creating disease associated with that energy center. Last year, my good, blogging friend, Dr. Dinardo also showed me how anxiety shows up and can stay in your body.
And I agree.
For me, emotions have always developed in my stomach area: excitement and nervousness feel like trapped butterflies; sadness feels like a rollercoaster ride, right before you take that big dive into the unknown; anger feels as if someone has gathered all my internal organs, tied them in a knot, attached them to an anchor, and left them in my belly as a tangled mess to sort out. These are probably common for others, but for me, they’re also constant.
Over the years, I’ve begun jogging before I speak at conferences or practicing yoga before doing something that may be triggering. Exercising helps move energy. Exercising helps me to become unstuck.
The problem occurs when exercise is not an option, which is more frequent, like when I talk to my grandmother.
The other day we had a conversation, where she couldn’t figure out why she was crying. For some reason, she couldn’t connect it to the fact that her last living sister has been diagnosed with dementia and is now in an uncontrollable situation.
“I never cry,” she said with pride. “I never understood why people cry, like at funerals and stuff.”
“Maybe because they’re sad,” I suggested.
“Because they’re sad?” she questioned. “Sad?” she repeated. “Well, you know what they say about that?” she asked me.
“You’re sad? You better scratch your butt and be glad!” and then she laughed.
Not only was this phrase not funny to me, but it also sounded like ‘do it with joy’ remixed. Suddenly, my belly started flopping and sinking, and freezing at once. Normally, I wouldn’t say anything (insert lack of personal power with Grannie here). But I’ve been forcing myself to speak up, no matter what, even if it’s uncomfortable.
“Well, that’s not very nice, Grannie,” is all I could muster.
“Huh? It’s not nice?”
“No. That’s not a very nice saying.”
We eventually ended the conversation. My belly wasn’t flopping, and I felt good about expressing my opinion (which is associated with the throat chakra).
Of course, I’ll continue to take my probiotic and finish my elimination diet to re-set my gut; however, I think there is something to acknowledging how we hold energy in our bodies, which is oftentimes associated with a specific chakra. This is the first time I’ve publicly acknowledged how my self-esteem was tied to my inability to find a job aligned with my qualifications. That’s a start. I’ll continue with re-building my (career) self-esteem in small ways and also with using my voice with specific people, even when it’s wobbly or when my belly plummets. While I’m powerful behind this keyboard, it’s also important to me to have a well-rounded sense of personal power in all areas.
Looking forward to hearing what you think.