It Doesn’t Have to Own You

fearPatience and tolerance are two qualities well worth working on if we want to move through life in a peaceful way. Sometimes things unfold the way we want them to, and at other times, we may find ourselves at a complete loss to make sense of what’s happening, what we’re doing, or which way to head. So many of the things we’ll move through are not comfortable or desirable, but it’s how we face what we’re given that most determines how life will feel.

There are certain things you can control. You can do the work to heal, and that in itself is a personal project that might take years, and a willingness to explore the tools that will be the most useful to you. Maybe it’s yoga and seated meditation, maybe it’s therapy, journaling, reading, salsa dancing, hiking, the possibilities are endless. Generally, those pursuits that put you in a state of “flow” are going to help you loosen your grip on any stance or story about your life, or why you are the way you are, that might not be serving you. That might, in fact, be blocking you from opening to joy.

Sometimes people bristle, and say, “Wow, there’s so much emphasis placed on people turning inward, like it’s all about them.” The thing is, if you want to give everything you’ve got, your first order of business is to strip away anything that’s blocking you. Like self-doubt, low self-esteem, feelings that you might not be worthy of love, or have anything special to offer. Also, you might need to lean into your rage, or stop blaming other people for your unhappiness. You might need to reclaim your power, or discover it for the first time. You might need to unlearn things like, “Everybody leaves”, or “Everybody cheats”, or “You can’t trust anyone”. You might need to mourn, to grieve. It’s also possible that you’ll find yourself way off course, and totally out of touch with your intuition. It’s more common than you might think, because so many people learn to push things down, to repress their feelings, needs, wants, ideas, to take care of other people at their own expense. The healing process is personal, but the one commonality amongst us all is that it isn’t easy. I’d argue that it’s a responsibility to undertake that journey, though, because once you’re at peace with yourself, you can move through the world in a peaceful and loving way. It might be an inward journey at the start, but it leads toward connection and the ability to live and love with your heart wide open, and those are gifts you can then bring to the world around you.

Being patient and tolerant with yourself is huge. So many people are living with a loud, relentless, shaming inner critic. It’s like living with a roommate who loathes you, who’s full of contempt and disgust, who never misses an opportunity to let you know all the ways you aren’t measuring up. Who would ever want to live like that? You can’t evict your inner voice. You might have to starve it, and learn how to feed a loving voice. That way, the inner roommate is rooting you on, not tearing you down. That’s life-changing. Being at war with yourself is heartbreaking. When you feel like crap about yourself, you aren’t going to make loving choices. You’ll find yourself in relationships where you have to shrink, or accept so much less than what you really want. You may be inclined to drown out that inner tyrant with drugs or alcohol or shopping or food or sex, but none of that works. You really have to get in there and have a face-off. A voice-off. Eventually, you’re going to have to grab that nasty voice by the throat, push it up against the wall, and say, “Enough! Enough with your crappy attitude, you don’t get to pollute my house and kick me in the head anymore.” Believe me, that feels good. caring about yourself, your well-being, your tender heart, those things feel good, and you deserve to care about yourself. It’s a gift that you’re here. Your body is a gift. Your energy is a gift. Your time here is a gift. These are not gifts you want to squander.

Life is amazing and incredible and really, really interesting, but no one would argue that it’s easy. People will do things and say things and want things that break your heart. You will break other people’s hearts, too. Mostly, people don’t do this to each other intentionally. Most people are doing the best they can with what they’ve got. They’re trying to figure it out just like you, like me, like all of us when we’re honest about it. Sometimes you’ll get the breaks, sometimes you won’t. You can’t control that, but you can work on the way you deal with it. I wouldn’t keep score in your head. I wouldn’t try to bargain with life. If you think you’re going to get a free pass from suffering because you’re a good person, it won’t take long for you to realize the error in your thinking.

The absolute best things I know are love and connection and shared experiences and giving everything you’ve got every day. Figuring out what you can do, today, that will uplift the people around you. What you can do, today, to nurture yourself, so you’re coming from a place of abundance, and not lack, or the feeling that you have to cling or grasp.

Opening to reality as it is, is the most powerful and brave way to walk through the world. No one can take that from you. If you’re able to lean into your feelings, to be with your longing, your grief, your shame, your confusion, your loneliness, your fear and anxiety, you’ll find these feelings don’t own you. They don’t overpower you. They don’t move in and plunk themselves down on your couch, or unpack their bags and take over your drawers, closets, shower. They come, you acknowledge them, you allow them, but you also keep the door open. After you’ve given them a little of your time and kind attention, you walk them to the door, and encourage them to move on. That way you can also be ready to receive joy, love, laughter, gratitude, hope. What you resist, persists, as the saying goes. Try not to resist too much, try not to worry too much. Work on your relationship with yourself, and feed the relationships in your life. Uncover your gifts and share them, freely. Don’t worry so much about your five-year plan or your ten-year plan, or what all your friends seem to be doing. Just follow your heart and do those things that set your soul on fire, and try to trust that the way will become clear. Wishing that for you, and sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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