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January 20, 2022

Liberating Your Wild Self

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This is Part 2 of a series. Read Part 1: Wild vs. Socialized Self.

Now, to be crystal clear, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t have a socialized self. Your socialized self is essential for survival; for psychological survival undoubtedly, and quite possibly for physical survival. Our socialized self is what we believe and do in order to fit in; to fit into our family, peer group, team, company, community or country. It’s also how we act that allows us to live up to the image we have for ourselves and what we ought to be.

Yet almost all of us have completely lost touch with our wild selves. 

Our socialized selves have largely taken over. We’re not consciously choosing to put them in charge; we’ve so wholly given our power away to them that they are unconsciously running our lives. Allowing our socialized selves to unconsciously run the show comes at  a great cost to us and to the world. 

Living from our socialized self keeps us safe, at least pseudo safe, kind of safe, apparently safe. That’s the trade off: pseudo-safe or alive, accepted or free, ordinariness or adventure, predictability or passion, getting along or deep intimacy and creative tension. 

Losing touch with our wild self can cost us ….

  • Vitality
  • Aliveness
  • Energy
  • Power
  • Clarity
  • Creativity
  • Connection - deep connection with ourselves and others

Often when people come to us for coaching they bring a specific presenting issue or problem. Having coached many leaders I’ve come to see that the real reason many come is because they are experiencing the price of disconnection from their wild self. My role as a coach is to support them in finding, liberating and living with and from their wild self. 

Here are some of the many things I’ve learned about the wild self in the process:

The wild self is ….

  • Alive. Fully alive.
  • Instinctual. It has deep knowing, often a knowing beyond the mind’s ability to figure things out. 
  • Body centered. It is connected to the heart and head, but is rooted in the body. 
  • At home in nature.
  • Unpredictable and often messy.
  • Direct and not wordy.
  • Compellingly attractive to many and terrifying to others.
  • Deeply and fiercely loving, but not in a sentimental or necessarily personal way.
  • In service to the whole and to something greater than itself.
  • Able to destroy and to birth and rebirth over and over again.

If these words and concepts attract you and scare you, it’s often because your wild self is calling you. If they bore you or confuse you, it’s quite possible it’s not your time to meet your wild self. 

But before we go further in finding and unlocking the cage in which our wild one is being kept, I want to offer a word of caution for people who have spent years denying and disowning the wild self, as I did:

Life can get messy when the wild one is set free. 

Again, it’s possible that you have built much of your life, your relationships, roles and agreements on being your socialized self and interacting with other people’s socialized selves. Because the journey can be messy, I highly recommend finding a trusted guide who knows wildness personally, and who has supported others to reconnect with their wildness in a way that is most friendly to themselves and others.

One such guide is my friend Boyd Vartry. Boyd is a tracker; one thing he’s been tracking for a long time is his wild self. For example, he spent 40 nights alone, living in a tree house, facing nothing but himself and the wildness of nature. And just as he guides guests at his Londolozi Resort to track lions, he teaches people to track their wild self as well. 

Boyd created an online course which he asked me to take and review. I thought it was great. It’s not easy. It requires discipline and rigor and a ruthless willingness to look deeply into who you are. And, it supports you in finding your wild self. Many of you don’t have access to a mentor who knows the landscape of wildness, so I offer Boyd’s course as one option for you to consider. I would recommend that you do this course with a friend or a small group so you can share and support one another. But again, only do it with people you trust are willing to move beyond fitting in and going along. If online courses aren’t your thing, I get it. They are not usually mine either but I liked this one, probably because I trust Boyd and think he’s the real thing. By the way, Boyd never asked me to endorse this course and I don’t get anything if you choose to enroll.

Here are some of the questions Boyd will invite you to explore:

  • When was the last time you felt truly free?
  • In what spaces does the intensity make you razor focused?
  • What would you do if you answered to no one?
  • Are you a friend of solitude?
  • When was the last time you were truly hungry?
  • Can you feel the power of nature?
  • Can you react from your gut with trust?
  • Have you met clean fear?

Whether you do this course or not, you’ll probably learn what I’ve learned. My journey has been first and foremost, over and over again, being willing to feel the pain, the deep aching searing pain of not being fully alive, of being disconnected from my deepest truest most authentic self. It’s been a willingness to stop anesthetizing the pain but rather to sit in it. This has often been followed by crying out to the universe, yearning for what I could feel but didn’t know how to actualize and then doing whatever it took to get alongside the Wild Ones, who knew the paths of initiation. They are out there. Literally, usually, out there, but you can find them.

I believe the world is hungry for wild women and wild men who will show the way back to our truest nature and forward to new possibilities. Are you one of the wild ones?

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