Shifting With Grace (Or, “Let’s not be such control freaks”)


As spiritual beings, we abhor stagnation – our lives are all about shifting and learning and growing. Of course, on a entirely human level, we often crave control, stability, a sense of security and some degree of predictability. I mean, change is scary, right? What if you, *gasp*, DIED?!?  No wonder so many of us have a white-knuckle grip on our need for control.

It stands to reason, then, if you’re experiencing a bout of significant shifting and growing, you might feel off-kilter, scared or just plain stressed out.  These spiritual changes often come disguised as significant life events like losing a job, ending a relationship, moving or incurring unexpected large expenses.  These events aren’t the Universe knocking us down and taking our lunch money, but are designed to get our attention and move us toward a new path.  For some of us, we may get these “plot twists” every few years or so.  For others, we may get them every other month.  Of course, this can be overwhelming and exhausting if you’re viewing them as punishment.  However, it is important to remember that lessons or shifts are neutral from a Universal perspective.  That is, the Universe doesn’t assign “good” or “bad” connotation to lessons as they are simply the vehicle to our growth.  It is we humans who view things like losing a job or breaking up with a significant other as “bad” and winning the lottery as “good.”  The Universe doesn’t attach such labels.  

So if these things aren’t “good” or “bad” then why do we feel such stress when the unexpected happens?  This goes back to our human, ego-driven need to be stable, secure and ultimately have control over our immediate circumstances.  But, guess what… the need for control is an illusion and a human construct that does us more harm than good.  We fight wars out of our need for control.  We lose sleep over our need for control.  We fight with loved ones over our need for control.  Control is diametrically opposed to the Universal constants of growing and shifting.  

As difficult as it can sometimes be, when we find ourselves in the thick of it, we must take a step back and look at the larger picture.  When something ends, the Universe rushes in to fill the vacuum; allow this to happen.  Don’t hang on to the old, stagnant patterns.  Allow these things to flow.  Granted, this is easy when the flow feels more like a lazy river on a summer day, than an intense roller coaster ride.  But hey, roller coasters are fun, too. Remember, it’s all about perspective. So let go, and throw your hands up in the air; and if it gets a little intense, it’s ok to scream your head off.  Just remember, that no matter what, you’re always going forward. 


The Pain Monster


I’ve been getting to be really good friends with the Pain Monster, that savage, marauding beast we unleash on ourselves when things feel like they are falling apart and we are in our darkest hour.  I’ve felt it’s keen edge, stared into its gaping maw and embraced the power of it’s presence.  I’ve opened up to the teaching in the pain, the lessons, the recovery, the strength, and overall, the acceptance of the flow of my life.  I’ve learned to lean into the pain as its teeth cut deeply into my heart and soul knowing that whatever was being destroyed will be reborn so much stronger.

So what woke up the Pain Monster inside of me?  In a very short amount of time I lost my job, I lost my mother, I lost savings, I lost my romantic relationship, I was betrayed thrice over, and watched a loved one spiral into madness and attempt suicide.  This is a lot to experience and a lot to just be with.  I’ve seen sides of myself I didn’t know were there – both good and bad, I saw the contrast in myself. And as I watched these emotions rise to the surface and counted them one by one, I realized that these things were not happening to me or because of me.  They were happening around me.  I was in the eye of the hurricane.  Or at least I was supposed to be there.  I had allowed my self to wander into the fray and get pulled into the drama of human reaction.  I saw that my pain, as real and as powerful as it was, was optional.  It was optional because it was born of my resistance to the changes that were happening in my life.  I resisted the losses, as I thought I was being robbed; I resisted that I was growing because I thought I was failing; I resisted my own evolution because I did not see it for what it was.  And the pain came sharp and keen, to bring me back to myself.  I had asked for a miraculous life change, I had asked to be deliriously happy, and when the Universe handed me my wishes on a silver platter, I recoiled.  I was the butterfly in the cocoon – but I had learned to love the cocoon, and it was stifling me.  My personal cocoon was a relationship that no longer served me, friends who weren’t, a job that I wasn’t passionate about and various other illusions of things I thought I “needed” to be happy, whole and fulfilled.  I was being shown the error of my ways, and I as I resisted the lesson, the Pain Monster came for me.  And as it bore down, I knew I had to embrace it – move through it

But why would I want to move through the pain?  Why wouldn’t I just want to numb it, ignore it or blame someone else for it?  Why would I embrace it and lean into it like an old friend?  Because there is no resolution in hoping the pain will go away, no closure, no learning, no beauty.  Once we open ourselves to the experience of the pain, we must process it.  There is no growth, no evolution, no enlightenment without change.  Notice here, I said change and not pain.

We don’t hear that in our world today where freedom is just a Big Mac or a Valium away.  Reaching for those quick fixes is what gets us stuck in the pattern of trauma, drama, pain, repeat.  We need to extricate ourselves from that cycle to find true freedom.  We are chained to the pain cycle, hooked on the thrill of our own self-persecution.

Without exception, people act out in destructive behavior against themselves and others because of their own pain, and more specifically, the fear of that pain.  People numb themselves with food, alcohol, drugs or sex to escape.  At times, the emotional pain becomes so much, that we feel we must mask it or defeat it with physical pain.

The perception is that the pain is the result of what has been done to us by others, and we are the victims of their cruelty.  Whether from actual trauma or perceived trauma, we lodge the pain, unprocessed, in our bodies.  The reality is that these events did happen, but we can choose to see them for what they are and embrace them, or resist them and suffer until we realize that the pain of acceptance is far less than the pain of resistance.  In fact, there is surprisingly little pain in acceptance.

I won’t tell you that these realizations came easily or that they removed me from the process somehow.  But I will tell you that now it is easier.  Now I am an observer of the pain, and not a participant in its drama.  I can integrate these lessons and changes into my life and, I hope, weather future storms with more grace, acceptance and love.   We can choose to get out of the pain cycle at any time.  It is ultimately our choice. When I was stuck in the pain cycle, I craved the light at the end of the tunnel, but once I realized I WAS the light, I realized I was at the end of the tunnel.

In love and light


The Resistance/Acceptance Cycle