Ah, the nourishment barrier… a realm where regardless of surroundings, you find yourself starving at the banquet. In the midst of the feast, you somehow can’t let it in. Whether that feast is food or fun, compliments or community, you paradoxically respond as if that which is nourishing is in fact toxic.
There are people who live at this nourishment barrier. At work, at play, at home, at the movies, in love, even in bed; They have a problem letting in the gifts of life, a problem even letting in what they need, as if something bad would be imminent if they did. Below their level of awareness, they cling to a belief that if they allow themselves to let in something good, pleasurable, or rewarding, that very thing will eventually be taken away or lose it’s thrill, leaving life that much more of a miserable burden to endure. The all too familiar result of their resistance is the collapse into a life orientation of “why bother”.
Don’t get me wrong, these are sweet people – typically even intelligent, endearing and compassionate; very compassionate. Very serving, very loyal, but also not too good at taking care of themselves. This “why bother” orientation can be subtle or severe, depending on how deeply the person is entrenched in the nourishment barrier.
Rather than writing a textbook here, I’ll move into some practical advice and maybe revisit this theme later in my blog. Getting practical is a very good direction to take for people who have the nourishment barrier and its “why bother” orientation.
On the more basic level, it’s good for these folks to start by defining clearly what their needs are. Then, after that preliminary step, to make a longterm project out of studying how they go about the business of resisting getting what they need.
Now as an aside, imagine there is not one of you, but a whole cast of characters in there. These characters started out simply as beliefs, beliefs which served to help you know the territory and the rules of getting around in it back when you were much younger. But after some years, these core beliefs took on a life of their own inside you, where they wait in the wings of the stage of your in-the-moment experience, ready to come out and take center stage upon getting triggered by events that occur.
That, in itself, is not the problem. The problem arises only if, while they are running the show from their position on stage, you think that’s you up on the stage. If you aren’t aware of what’s going on inside you, you identify with these characters and their fundamental beliefs, oblivious to the distinction between them and the adult you.
Your job is to monitor and manage these characters, which requires noticing when any one of them gets triggered. Instead of “getting up on the stage with this character”, which may be your pattern, my invitation is that you take your seat in the front row where you can experience not only the unfolding story of resistance to nourishment, but can get perspective on what this story is really about. You are able to discover what the beliefs are that determine, sustain, and reinforce their existence, so you can choose consciously to indulge their impluses of resistance or not. This, by the way, is some of the foundational work of my approach to self-discovery, Making the Moment Matter (TM).
But let’s get back to the nourishment barrier and see how to apply this perspective there. If you can notice those moments when an opportunity presents itself for you to get one of your needs met, you can shift your attention to study how you organize around this opportunity. This self discovery leads you to see – and likely take – options that you never saw before. Thus, you can stop playing out archaic automatic responses that limit your fulfillment. Letting in nourishment becomes a non-dogmatic conscious act of self responsibility.
My goal for the people I work with is not that they get rid of these often annoying characters who live inside them, but that they develop a more conscious relationship with them. It is through this deepening that the person gets bigger than not only this nourishment barrier but bigger than anything the universe throws his or her way.
Copyright © 2014 Jim Lehrman