The Virtue of Rigidity
Being rigid in business or love gets a bad wrap, and yet, it can help you expand in health, wealth and joy.
“I don’t want to be rigid”
I have learned over the years, that when I say this phrase, it’s usually a way to take myself off the hook of doing something I know needs to be done to expand in business or in love, and don’t want to do.
When I was getting clear on the kind of romantic relationship I wanted, my coach helped me create a phrase: “I commit to co-creating a conscious, loving, monogamous partnership.”
We also decided what was a definite YES for my future partner (Wants to create a monogamous relationship with me, must share my passion for growth and creativity), and a definite NO (abuse of any kind).
Of course, living by this meant I would have to stop or not pursue any sort of romantic communication with men who didn’t meet my clear guidelines.
Even if it was fun. Even if it was innocent. To honour my commitment, I had to stop. Finito.
Another time, when I was tired of teaching 12 yoga classes weekly and not having money to pay rent, or free time on the weekends, I decided to prioritize doTERRA to get the freedom I craved. So, I made another commitment: “I commit to establishing my core business and creating immediate, continuous, financial abundance.”
Both times, I noticed a thought come up often in the minutes and days following the commitment.
“I don’t want to be rigid.”
Then, I would continue to date unavailable men. I would continue to take on multiple little projects and not get momentum in any.
I justified this by telling myself as an entrepreneur, I was being agile and responding to what the moment needed. As a spiritual person, I was listening to the what the universe was bringing me.
It was BS.
Telling myself I didn’t want to be rigid was simply my brain find a way to prevent change. Change is scary to our subconscious mind. The reticular activating system in our brain is designed to keep the status quo, because it requires less energy to do what we have always done than it does to learn something new.
Also, if we experienced trauma in our lives (most of us have) the new action often requires us to face it, which is scary. As someone who had experienced the loss of my father at a young age, dating unavailable men was less scary than getting into a co-committed relationship where I could truly develop intimacy and experience grief when it ended. The irony is that these strategies to protect ourselves don’t lead to more joyful and fulfilling lives.
Our subconscious is brilliantly designed to help us avoid what is uncomfortable so we can function day to day. Unfortunately, we end up simply functioning through life, not truly living.
Similarly, I was used to struggling financially for so long, subconsciously, I was afraid of how financial success would change me.
Putting on the breaks happens in every area of life. Gay and Katie Hendricks calls it an Upper Limit Problem. Steven Pressfield calls this resistance. My MLM coach Deb Erickson calls this staying in the safe zone.
“I don’t want to be rigid,” is a brilliant way to not change, because rigidity is seen in our society (especially in the entrepreneurial and spiritual communities) as negative.
Luckily, I had a great coach, and she set it straight.
“So, you have made a commitment which you are choosing not to follow. So essentially you are choosing to live out of integrity.”
I knew by that point living in integrity meant to wonderful things would come into my life. Choosing to live out of integrity would lead to the same old crap.
I was on the hook. So I made the changes necessary. I deleted the guys out of my phone. I said no to events and little contracts. I even said no to my own ideas that distracted me from doTERRA.
It was uncomfortable. It was scary. It was ANNOYING. I had so much doubt.
It was also worth it. Weeks later, while swiping on Bumble, I met my now-fiance who embodies everything I had on my list. My doTERRA business grew 10x within a year.
So, I am very aware when I hear myself say “I don’t want to be rigid” especially right after I have identified the exact steps to follow to create a certain result, that some part of me is afraid.
I don’t judge myself. With loving compassion, I practice noticing the microscopic truth, which helps me steer clear of mental gymnastic (aka paralysis by analysis).
I notice and speak out what is absolutely, undeniably true: “When I think about this commitment, I feel this specific sensation in my body.” It might be a heaviness on my chest / butterflies in my tummy / tears well up behind my eyes.” I meditate on the sensations, and imagine the emotion or discomfort as growing pains. I practice gratitude for the sensations I would formally try and avoid.
I often new commitments to myself. Sometimes I can immediately live in integrity and follow them. Sometimes it takes a few weeks or years to really live it.
Rigidity gets a bad wrap in the entrepreneurial and spiritual world. Rigid actions and beliefs are necessary. I am rigid in my belief that abusing a child (or anyone) is never okay. Never ever ever.
Rigidity for a certain period of time helps create a habit. It helps create trust in oneself. I am on day 36 of a 40 day Pranayama practice. The rigid commitment has greatly improved my life. Otherwise I would not have practiced.
I’m currently in London, surrounded my huge monuments and grand buildings. The structures are solid. Rigid. Stable. Beautiful. The rigidity allows such grand beauty.
We don’t always need to be rigid. I just came from India, with soft flowing lines, and delicate flowers adorning every street corner.
And often, rigidity profoundly improves my life.
Only you will know where rigidity will serve you. I like to be rigid with a habit for a time period. A month, three months or a year, then see what happens and adjust the commitment.
Like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, “If you are too serious, yes, you can bring more playfulness. If you are flaky and flimsy, then bring more seriousness. Don’t take advice as an blanket statement. Only you know how to apply it.”
The experiences and results in your life indicate where more or less rigidity will best serve you, and the people around you. Would rigidity serve you? In what areas of your life?