Kicking the wheel goes something like this: We notice that our jaw is tight, for example, and then we say, “Oh my god I'm getting TMJ, and this is going to be really annoying and I’m going to have to go to someone to fix it. And you know who else has TMJ?! Mom! This is all her fault, she passes all her crap on to me and now I have to deal with this. Like my hips! One is higher than the other, just like her, ugh! I can not believe she passed this on to me!!” Or we notice our jaw is tight and we say, “Oh man, my jaw is tight. I’m such a fuck up! I’m never going to get any of this right, its always one thing after the other and now I have TMJ. I’m never going to be OK, my body is falling a part, and that is just my lot in this life.” Then in both cases we set our jaw and go about trudging through the resentment or self-pity, creating a familiar cycle of suffering, and wonder why our jaw is tight!
Now this is not about TMJ or aching backs, headaches, anxiety, or depression it’s about how we keep kicking the wheel and keep these familiar cycles of resentment, self-pity, or self-hatred going. Not kicking the wheel would look like this: We notice our jaw is tight and we say, “Damn it my jaw is tight, oh man this always happens if only… Wait a second I want to try something different; I’m just going to notice the tightness.” (Then five seconds later.) “No this is stupid! Just noticing it is so pointless nothing will ever change… No I want to try this, I’m just going to notice the sensations and see what happens next.” (Then seven seconds later.) “Ok something new just happened there in my jaw, its still kinda tight but it feels a bit different, not sure what that is.” And we keep going like that, there is a habitual desire to keep doing the familiar path and we interrupt that momentum with a moment of mindfulness and curiosity.
This mindfulness and curiosity is not necessarily a “fix” for what ails us, but it is a pathway to allowing the natural process of healing to take place. As we become curious and compassionate towards ourselves we open to new solutions and options. We may need medical interventions, or medication, or therapy for all these things that are “wrong” with us. But by removing the judgment, shame, or resentment we can allow for clarity to make good decisions for ourselves and actually improve our lives. And sometimes we realize that we don’t really have TMJ we just have a particular pattern of energy that we keep going because its what we do unconsciously.
The interesting thing is that most of the time when we stop kicking the wheel the pain, tightness, or habitual responses seem to keep going for a while. That’s because there is momentum that has to run out. It may take awhile, year’s maybe, for certain behaviors or beliefs to be transformed. But in the meantime we grow in humility, acceptance, and gratitude for the pain and joy of being human. And in the end that tightness in the jaw becomes a small price to pay for the benefits of connecting deeply with ourselves and as a result with others.
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg