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

roller-coaster

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. 

Advertisements

Love, anyway

love-anyway-shevon-johnsonFor those of you who read this column regularly, you know that I write and speak from a deeply personal place.  It is my sincerest wish that I can translate the lessons that I have been given in my life into a medium that can help you.  At least, that’s the plan.  I often make an example out myself unintentionally.  Recently, in my day job, I rescued a cat that had been stuck in a wood pile for several days.  The little creature repaid my kindness by nearly biting through my finger.  After ten days of guy-wrenching antibiotics, the lesson to the men on my team: Don’t be like me; wear thicker gloves.  (The cat’s doing fine, by the way, and has found a forever home… )

And other times, I’ll share here a particular struggle in which I find myself.  Lately, I’ve found myself in a Battle Royale with my own fear.  More specifically, with a deeply rooted fear of intimacy and of trust with another human being.  I’ve been standing on the precipice of something great and truly amazing – the chance for an exceptional life.  And yet, I can’t dive in.  I can’t accept what’s in front of me.  Of course, this relies on the participation of a partner and the trust that I will be loved and cared for unconditionally.  But therein lies the rub, I suppose.  I can’t accept that even on the outside chance this ends up hurting like hell, in the meantime, it will be extraordinary and well worth the gamble.  For you regular readers, you know that I preach that Fear is the opposite of Love.  In Fear there is no Love, and in Love there is no Fear.  Only the ones who have stood here on the edge before know that making this one particular leap is the most terrifying thing that you can ever do – that proverbial “Leap of Faith.”

Upon finding myself in this dilemma, I did what (I’m sure) everyone does: I came home, poured myself a glass of chianti and cried my eyes out.  I sobbed and begged for guidance: What do I DO?  What CAN I do?  Why the fuck am I so petrified?  As I sat there in a state of abject pain, The Voice broke through.  It’s message: “Love, anyway.”  Well, I have to say that that stopped me cold.  The Voice was right, of course (as always… it’s so smug sometimes…).  What else is there to do but love?  What other answer is there?  If I didn’t want to be scared anymore, isn’t the most obvious answer to just love what I was scared of?

I don’t have to tell you that this is easier said than done.  You probably also won’t be surprised that I haven’t made my leap of faith yet – gosh, I’m being so human.  But I’m getting closer.  And when I finally close my eyes and jump, I know that I will be safe.

Resistance is futile

change-I’m about to ask you to do something really, really scary.  Ready?

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.

Love, heather.