Loosen Your Grip

Peace-cannot-be-achievedSometimes we’re convinced our way is the only way. Life presents big questions, and most of us will have to grapple with them at some time or another if we want to be at peace. Some people are born into families where beliefs are passed down, but even in those cases, most people approach near adulthood, and want to examine their own feelings and ideas about things.

None of us will have concrete answers about most of this stuff until we exhale for the final time, but the need to organize this world so that it makes sense, so that there’s some stability and some order, can be profound. So many people want a formula. If I’m a good person, only good things will happen to me. If someone does something hurtful, they’ll pay, but life doesn’t tend to unfold in this linear, logical way.

The thing is, when we grasp our ideas and opinions, we also close ourselves off to other ways of thinking about things, and we can draw proverbial lines in the sand between ourselves and other people. At the foundation of every religion, for example, there’s love. There’s a moral code of conduct. Don’t kill. Don’t Lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t gossip. Be responsible with your sexual energy. Know yourself. Most of us wouldn’t argue with any of that. Fighting happens when we cling and insist we know what the answers are, and anyone who disagrees with us, anyone who’s come up with different answers, is wrong. Fear is at the heart of “us versus them”. Fear motivates a need to be right, and many people experience someone else’s different idea as a rejection of their own.

For me, I accept help and love from any source. If it’s comforting and it makes sense to me, I could not care less about labels. Is it Jewish love? Christian love? Muslim love? Buddhist love? If it’s love, it’s good by me. We get so crazy with our labels. Labels cause friction, and friction leads to combustion. Is there female air and male air? Black air and white air? Maybe we could all just breathe together.

Sometimes hatred is taught, and that’s very very sad. Racism begins at home, as does compassion. Of course we can always un-learn and relearn if we were taught that all people were not created equal. You’re starting off with an advantage if you understand that beautiful people and damaged people come in all colors, shapes and sizes. The reality is, we’re one family on one planet. We’d get a lot further with love and respect than we do with insistence and violence.

Why do people feel threatened if someone makes a choice that’s different than their own? Maybe it creates doubt within them about what they’re doing, and what the point of it all is. Existential pain hits most of us at some time or another. What if we’re blowing it? What if we missed the memo about what we’re doing here? What if we die without having lived from our hearts? People can get pretty frightened when they perceive a different idea as an attack upon what they think. A person who’s worked hard to organize the world in a way that makes sense to her or himself might very well feel the need to cling to those answers.

The more we realize we’re with each other and not against each other, the more everything flows. If we understand we have these finite resources to share, we might be more mindful about our choices and habits. Peace is a choice. Walking a peaceful path takes guts and bravery. Loosening your grip on your own ideas can be scary, but if you have faith in yourself, there’s no need to grasp so tightly. if you have faith in the answers you’ve worked out, you can loosen your grip, and hear the hearts and minds of other people. This is how we open to each other, and it crosses every area of our lives.

When you have the choice between being right and being kind, always choose kindness. Think about your gravestone if it helps: “Here lies a person who was always right.” or, “Here lies a person who loved and listened and opened and learned. Who embraced and explored and examined.”

Sending you love, and wishing you peace,

Ally Hamilton

6 thoughts on “Loosen Your Grip”

    1. Well, I agree, fear is at the root of most of our problems. It’s also a perfectly natural feeling we’ll all experience. I think the main thing is what we do with our fear. Thanks for your comment 🙂 Peace to you.

  1. I needed this today. My almost 90 year old mother has been staying with me. She is quite social and likes to know what is going on all around her and to anyone else. My husband died 6 months ago and while I really need more time by myself, my mom keeps driving down from her mountain place to visit and extends her stays. I know she’s lonely, but I have been feeling frustrated and less than kind and need to take rests to have time by myself.
    So thanks for the timely words. Breathe breathe breathe.

    1. Oh, Susan, that’s rough. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband, and I’m also sorry you have to care for your mom while you’re grieving. It’s kind of you to understand that she’s lonely and looking for connection, but I’m also glad you “take rests” so you can care for yourself, too. SO important right now. Wish I could give you a hug through my laptop.

  2. Well said! I really enjoyed reading your article. I think I am a pretty open and compassionate person, but I think at times I need to remind myself to loosen my grip a little more. It is a tricky juggle staying open and maintaining healthy boundaries. Always learning! Warm wishes to you!

    1. Totally agree. It’s hard to let go of our ideas of how things “should be”, or what people “should want”, but it sure makes life easier 🙂 Sending you love!

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