This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
We all hit the wall. The place we feel helpless and drained – where we feel like we cannot go on anymore. My crash is preceded by signs of crumbling. But when I hit, it’s sudden; with a realization that all of the confidence and belief I had in myself, just moments ago, are gone. And I sit there, usually on the bathroom floor, sobbing and begging for help. I do not beg for god or any other savior; rather I am seeking help from the strongest part of myself, to pull me up; to keep moving.
I give up easily. I guess you could say I’m a quitter. I quit because I abhor confrontation, or because I’m afraid to fail. There is a certain relief that comes with making the choice to move on. Quitting actually becomes a consolation to confrontation or failure. I’ve realized the pattern; physical challenge and stress I can take but when the anxiety is mental, I fold. And what do I do? I move. It is what I do best. Speaking of which, I have resided in 17 different home/apartments in the last 15 years. Movement I’m okay with. It’s standing still and steadfast that challenges my psyche.
But to live deeper we have to go to the places that help us find a slower rhythm an internal stillness.
I would like you to make yourself aware of how you hit the wall. How do you deal with a situation when it gets so bad that you are either physically or emotionally taken over by the pain? Keep in mind that being taken over by pain can also look like screaming or yelling, and saying things you don’t mean.
Pain is a sign that you are resisting. It is always some form of non-acceptance to what is. In essence, it is a gift; a way of getting us to look at what isn’t working, of what needs our attention. Whatever the feeling is, accept it. Accept it, as if you have chosen it…and watch the pain begin to subside. It is often helpful to sit in silence while learning acceptance. Take deep breaths and meditate. Be gentle with yourself. Do not become self-critical. Accept all, even your own actions, and understand that there is nothing wrong with the present moment. You have the power to change it.
After you have acknowledged the reality of your circumstances, then and only then can you begin to take action to change your feeling and circumstances. Accept, and then act…that’s the winning formula.
When you’re on top of the world, it’s easy to love you, but I want to know about the decisions you make when you’re down.
The following is adapted from and inspired by, Oriah’s book, “The Dance.” Here she writes about the belief that has been blindly passed on to us, that in order to change ourselves, or an aspect of our lives, we must suffer or struggle. Because we are not aware that this is a belief that fails us, we will hand it on, like a sealed letter, without knowing it.
Many of us believe that by our nature we are lazy and unworthy. We believe we will not change; we will not become who we want to be unless we push ourselves or are forced by suffering to do so. We often put ourselves into situations where we will either sink or swim, believing that it is the best way to learn or to get the job done. This is not true. For in doing this we do not learn a task. We learn how to survive.
The Swimming Lesson
Feeling the icy kick, the endless waves
Reaching around my life, I moved my arms
And coughed, and in the end saw land.
Somebody, I suppose,
Remembering the medieval maxim,
Had tossed me in,
Had wanted me to learn to swim,
Not knowing that none of us, who ever came back
From that long lonely fall and frenzied rising,
Ever learned anything at all
About swimming, but only
How to put off, one by one,
Dreams and pity, love and grace,-
How to survive in any place.
- Mary Oliver
By throwing ourselves into a situation with a sink or swim attitude, we do not learn mercy and compassion for ourselves, but rather foster a hardness toward our own suffering and the suffering of others who are failing to curb or rise above their basic nature. And in the face of these methods we do not learn to swim or dance or dream or be all we are. We do not really learn to love fully or allow ourselves to receive love freely. We’re too busy surviving.
There is another way to learn to grow. A way based on the assumption that to grow is to reveal the innate beauty we hold within, a beauty best brought forward by tender encouragement. Be gentle with yourself.