It’s human behaviour, it seems, to hang on, to push through, to endure something that is not working for us – right up until something, or ourselves, fall apart.
Much has been written and shared on how it takes things to fall apart for us to wake up and deal with what’s really there.
But do we, as human beings, have to wait for push comes to shove, the proverbial sh&te to hit the fan or for a crash and burn, in order to ‘awaken’ and eventually move in a direction that feels more real and positive to us?
What stops us from changing gears, or altering our path when we are in the midst of a deep discomfort, challenge or antipathy towards a situation?
Often the gut and soul, as well as the heart and mind, will be vying for our attention, and they do so continually until something breaks – or we do.
We will give the practical side of things as the reason for why we must go on with the way things are, in spite of that churning in the gut or dark night of the soul showing itself at 4am. We have valid causes to not upset the cart or enact change.
I have bills to pay; there is the mortgage; I have a family to support; this is all I am trained to do; we share a house/family; other people rely on me; he/she loves me; I don’t have the necessary finances; I don’t have the skills or experience; I have a health condition… and so on.
If we did stop, and if we really listened in, without worrying on the consequences of that act, we’d see how the practical reasons are manifestations of what’s really blocking our way towards feeling in tune in our lives. Be it conditioning from childhood, or events along the way that have been unresolved emotionally or unsatisfactorily, be it disappointment, shame, guilt, confusion, low self esteem, or pride, the need for self validation, loneliness, rejection… all of it comes down essentially to one thing:
But here’s the thing. Once we can let ourselves sink into and see, feel and be with the seabed of fear that lies beneath the will to create a change that will bring us into real or more alignment with who we are, then we’ve already begun to pass through the roadblock.
Great works of art and literature have come out of suffering. Solutions and inventions have arisen out of the pit of despair. Kindness and love have poured forth following shattering and traumatic experiences. True love has followed on from betrayals, newfound vocations from deep depression and even renewed bodily health has come from near death or debilitation. This is true.
But why wait for that crash and burn to wake us up?
Listen in, however difficult or impossible it seems, give yourself permission to. Create periods of non-doing. Sink into a chair. Rest the troubled mind onto a pillow or a cushion on the floor. Go for a walk through a place with trees. Journal (write without thinking, your stream of consciousness) in the morning and/or night. Sit in a peaceful café or park. Look through the window. Lay your tired body on a yoga mat and peacefully stretch – or just breathe. Listen in – and listen without prejudice (as a great artist of our time once said), and gradually the block of fear will thaw and become your trusted guide as to where to go next.
“When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before Now become laborsome events of will.
Weariness invades your spirit. Gravity begins falling inside you, Dragging down every bone.
The tide you never valued has gone out. And you are marooned on unsure ground. Something within you has closed down; And you cannot push yourself back to life.
You have been forced to enter empty time. The desire that drove you has relinquished. There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self….
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
Picture credit: Tasmanian artist Madeleine Goodwill, Learning to Befriend Places of Discomfort
Poem: John O’Donohue, For One Who is Exhausted