Do you know people whose mantra is “life sucks” or “people suck” or “I suck”? Most of us have been that person at some time or another, even if only for a moment, but some people get stuck there. That perspective usually shows up after we’ve been knocked around by life for awhile. Had our hearts broken romantically, or in relation to a family member or friend, or in a professional situation. If all those things happen at once, it’s like a perfect storm of suckiness. And that can really effect a person’s outlook.
Sometimes I think of life in terms of “birth cycles” and “death cycles”. Birth cycles are times of incredible growth, creation, productivity and expansion, and although they usually involve lots of transition and can be uncomfortable, there’s the underlying feeling of excitement. Death cycles are times when things are stagnant, we feel stuck or trapped, nothing seems to be moving or opening, it’s hard to breathe or see the light, and the path is not clear. These are usually times when we are refusing to acknowledge that something is coming to an end, be it a relationship, a job, or a way of being in the world. Or we realize, but struggle to accept. Death cycles mark the journey from the moment we know something is over in our hearts and in our guts, to the moment when we accept it in our minds and start to map out a different route. Then we are on to another cycle of growth. Birth cycles feel better, but we are going to get both in this life, and riding the waves is part of the gig. Also, the degree to which we allow ourselves to open to despair is the same degree we will be able to open to joy. They’re flip sides of a coin; you need one to appreciate and understand the other. The pain is often the catalyst for action. When we try to avoid the pain, we disempower ourselves.
And this is not to say there isn’t overlap. There are certainly times when one facet of our life is going really well, and other parts, not so much. We have a great relationship, but professionally we feel stuck. Or we have our work life in order, we feel we’ve found our calling, life has meaning and we have purpose here, but romantically it’s a wash. I’m simply talking about those times for people when it all feels hopeless. It’s tough to maintain an optimistic attitude when nothing seems to be flowing. But allowing a perfect or sustained storm of suckiness to affect your overall outlook is dangerous business because it changes the way you walk through the world. A couple of years ago, I drove behind a car with the bumper sticker, “People Suck”, and I was so struck that someone wanted to drive around with that message. Like, what happens in someone’s life that makes them want to buy that and stick it on their car? Disappointment, betrayal, abuse? Heartbreak? Being neglected, left, ignored? All these things can happen to any of us. Not everyone is able to love well; some people are in incredible pain and it spills over onto the people around them. Maybe your parents weren’t able to love you well, and it set you off on a cycle of repeating that pattern in all your relationships, and now you think no one can love and no one can give, but really, it’s just no one you’re choosing. There are beautiful, loving, amazing people in the world who don’t suck at all. Not even a tiny little bit.
About a year ago I met a guy with a tattoo on the top of his hand that said, “Trust No Bitch”, and that also blew my mind. Can you imagine going on a first date with that guy? I mean, you’re done before you start, aren’t you? And if you aren’t, then I’d have to think there’s something going on with you, too. Like it seems like a fun project. You’ll be the one to change him. Or you’re not looking for anything where you have to trust, either. But at least he was “out there” with it. At least he was stating it loud and clear, “I don’t trust women and I’m angry”. A lot of times people have tattoos like that, but they’re on the heart, not the hand. It takes a long time to identify them. Nonetheless, they might as well be on the forehead. Because if you really feel that way, it’s going to affect the way you see the world and interact with everyone. If you think all guys cheat, and you walk into a relationship like that, it’s going to affect everything. How much you open. How willing you are to let yourself be seen and known and understood. How much you relax into it. If you think all women are liars and users, it’s going to permeate all your interactions with women, romantic or otherwise. If you think people suck, you’re going to take that with you to the grocery store, on the freeway, to the barista behind the counter. And we are energetic beings, and even if a person might not be able to articulate your “tattoo”, they’re going to feel it. And respond accordingly. If someone feels the energy from you of contempt, they’re probably not going to respond with love (unless they’re your yoga teacher ;)). And so wherever you go, you perpetuate the idea that people suck, or no one likes you. But that’s just your lens. If you think life sucks, that’s so all-encompassing it’s going to be hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes you really need to get your lens cleared.
You don’t suck, and people don’t suck, and life does not suck. You have pain, and other people have pain, and life can be full of pain sometimes. But if you’re breathing, there’s still time to turn it around. If you have pain and it’s overwhelming, you need to reach out and get yourself some help and some support. There’s not a thing in the world that’s wrong with that. If the people who were supposed to love you didn’t do a bang up job of it, then you learned some stuff you’re going to need to unlearn. It’s doable. If you’ve chosen to surround yourself with people who end up hurting you, once again, the answers are inside. Your pain is running the show, and you’re trying to solve it but you can’t do that until you identify it and sit with it. When you heal yourself and love yourself, you’re going to choose to surround yourself with people who are also able to love. And when you’re coming from love and surrounded by love, there’s no way you’re going to think life sucks. The answers are always inside. Tattoo love on your heart. Everything else flows from there. Sending you some right now. Ally