Take off your Cool Cat Suit
Intuition is a strange thing. In this modern world we are constantly involving ourselves in absorbing data. Hitting metrics like step counts, macro counts, calorie counts, friend counts, is more important than actually feeling good. We are taught that hitting goals is worthy of praise and ultimately that's what we equate with “good”. So much do we rely on the reward that comes with good, that we forget about the internal barometer that tells us if we feel good. The opposite of feeling good isn't feeling bad, it’s feeling nothing at all. Apathy shows up in many different ways, but one of the most toxic ways is being “too cool”: too cool to appreciate the beauty of every moment, too cool to get involved, too cool to show up for others the way they show up for you. It effects the energy of everyone around. So how do we get back in touch with intuition and take off that cool cat suit?
Listen Louder. Whenever I’m stuck in a pattern of thought or behavior that feels like it’s sucking the life out of me (read: apathy or too-cool-ness), I shake things up by listening to how another person experiences the world. When we truly listen, with our whole body, it’s nearly impossible to deny the empathetic impulse hardwired into us. There is something about apathy that feels incredibly selfish. It’s the way that apathy seeps into every crevasse of the the environment; it’s the way that it manipulates an otherwise magnificent experience. Apathy highjacks whatever is going on, not just for us, but for the other people with whom we are interacting. Apathy forces us to disengage. Most of the time, when we listen instead of speaking on our too-cool-ness, we realize the complex world inside that other person. They have thoughts and feelings about every situation, just as we do. Investigate the way they see the world; investigate their joy and their sorrow. Get interested in their vast emotional and energetic world and use that knowledge to see what’s happening in our own.
Write it down. Every thought, every feeling, every impulse. Take ten minutes out of your day to follow your stream of consciousness. If there is a situation that evokes a particularly apathetic attitude, give yourself a private moment to investigate. Close your eyes, bring yourself back to the interactions surrounding the apathy. What were you doing? Are there any phrases that stick out in your mind (either spoken or not)? Do you remember parts of your body feeling tense or tight? Does everything feel exhausted? Give yourself permission to feel too cool for the exercise. Write that thought down. When you’re done, look at what you’ve written. Do you notice any patterns? Did you veer off into something completely unrelated? It’s important to acknowledge when apathy creeps in. When you shine a light on it, it becomes less powerful. When I look back on moments of apathy, I discover that I tried to avoid vulnerability and emotional involvement. Sometimes I felt I cared too much about the situation at hand. Sometimes, I was afraid of what other people thought about my reactions. In either instance, I cheated myself from experiencing the fullness of the moment.
Remember: You are the magic. I wish more people had a true sense of how special they actually are (I am one of the worst offenders of this). Somewhere along the journey from childhood to adulthood, we lose touch with the magical energy that sparkles inside each of us. One of my favorite things about teaching is watching students rediscover the side of them that is playful and vulnerable and willing to take risks. I watch them get back in touch with all of this stuff swirling inside of them, the raw material that sets them apart from every other human in the world. I see magic bubble up over and over again. It looks like vibrancy. It looks likes vulnerability. It looks like authenticity. It looks like a willingness to reach out and connect with the person across the room or across the world. This magic infuses every moment with gratitude; it highlights the ephemerality of each second of life. With this commitment to cultivating the magic inside ourselves, even the most mundane moment becomes one of divine inspiration. The too-cool part of us will creep up and insist that this optimism is naive, that we are stupid or silly or unrealistic. When those thoughts or feelings bubble up, we need to ask ourselves, “do I want to live in a world disconnected and unavailable or am I willing o sacrifice my coolness for a life of beauty and fullness?” Commit to exploring the magic inside; it combats any tendencies towards apathy.
The cool cat suit is armor. When we are afraid of investing and engaging our whole selves in a situation, we put our cool cat suit on. Ask yourself, what am I so afraid of fully experiencing that I shut down and shut off? Apathy makes us cool, but people respond to warmth. Warm up your heart, your energy, your thoughts, your feelings, and watch deeper connections blossom.