Ok. I want you to, just for a minute, let go of any preconceived notions that you actually have any control over the outcome of anything in your life. Period. Are you terrified yet? At minimum you’re pretty uncomfortable. But let’s keep going and I’ll explain.
What I’m talking about here isn’t little mundane choices we make daily. For example, I know that if I choose to eat as much chocolate and drink as much wine as I can hold, no matter how bad the day was, the next day is going to feel like hell. This is basic causation. But this cause and effect doesn’t necessarily extrapolate to the larger world or to cosmic rationale. There are people we all know who, despite having it all “together” and being “good people” have suffered the greatest heartache. And still we know others who, to our minds, may be polar opposite of what we think of as a “good person” and skate through their lives with the greatest of ease. There is no universal equality when it comes to security. In fact, in her book “When Things Fall Apart,” Pema Chodron says, “To think that we can finally get it all together is unrealistic. To seek for some lasting security is futile … One has to give up hope that this way of thinking will bring us satisfaction.”
Let me give you a personal example of this. A few years ago, I was in a terrible relationship. And yet I clung to it for security like it would feed me and keep me and protect me. Instead it drained me, battered me and nearly killed me. And yet I didn’t want to see what was happening. I had planned, you see. I had planned on a family and a marriage and a happily ever after. I was 32. This was it, dammit. But it wasn’t. It fell apart, and rather dramatically, I might add. The more desperately I clung on to try to control the inevitable outcome, the greater the lesson built up to show me that control was a moot point and my resistance was not only futile but making things a whole hell of a lot worse. I resisted the truth and ultimately resisted my path and my own Truth (capital T, thank you). You see, the “good” in my life fell apart and became “bad.” At least that’s how I saw it. Really, though, I was shedding a lot of “bad” and made room for the FABULOUS (all caps, thankyouverymuch). But that’s not what I saw. I just saw what was present and resisted any change. I had the foolish notion that I was in control of everything and that if I just clung on to it hard enough, I could manifest the “correct” outcome. It doesn’t work like that.
Nothing is constant. Life is always changing. The “good” will go “bad.” But the good news in this is that the “bad” will also go “good.” I was talking to my friend the other day in the midst of his most desperate hour in his atrocious divorce. He said to me, “I think this might be the worst thing.” All I could think to say to him was, “Guess what? That means the next thing automatically has to be better. You got to the bottom; you’re only going up now.” The amount of resistance that we feel from something is equal to the emotional energy that we put into the response. So, if we label divorce or losing a job or moving as “really bad,” well, we’re automatically going to think it sucks. Likewise, if we label marriage or getting a good job or even winning the lottery as “really good,” then we’re automatically going to be really freaking terrified. It goes like this: Big Emotion = Big Resistance = Ridiculous attempt to control our lives. Does any of this seem like a good use of energy to you? Me neither.
Am I saying don’t feel big emotion or have an emotional response to change? Absolutely not. I’m saying take a step back and look at change (ALL change) in the larger context of your life. What response does this trigger? Will a “loss” usher something else in? Will a “gain” allow you to expand your magnanimity and share with others? When something shows up to rock your world, let go of the good/bad dichotomy and see if there is a larger message in the change. It is all change. Yes, everything falls apart. But at some point it comes back together, too. It always has, and it always will.