Find the Gift

darknessoliverSometimes the gift is getting what you want, and sometimes the gift is not getting what you want. It’s fairly easy to celebrate when things go our way, but it usually takes a lot of effort to unearth the beauty in having some of our desires remain unfulfilled. I’m not an “everything happens for a reason” yogi, and I don’t believe everything is positive. I don’t go for platitudes like, “If you don’t get what you want, it’s because something better is planned for you”, but I do think there’s the potential for growth in every experience.

Heartbreak is a good example. Maybe you’ve suffered through a painful breakup, or you’ve lost someone you don’t know how to live without. Trying to find the gift when your heart is broken is no easy feat, and I don’t recommend that you rush to do that. If you’re grieving, grieve. Give yourself time to feel whatever you need to feel — deep sadness, despair, anger, longing, whatever it is. The best way to prolong a state of pain is to deny it, numb it out, or push it away. If you want to get through something and come out the other side as soon as possible, the fastest method is to lean right into your heartache. Then you can release the heat of your feelings, and you can start to let the worst of it burn off.

The gift comes in learning more about yourself. If you let these experiences soften you rather than harden you, you’ll find you become more empathetic, more insightful, and more able to extend compassion to other people who might be suffering. We learn the most about who we are, where we still have healing to do, where we’re strong and where we could use some strengthening, through times that challenge us. Chapters that feel good are wonderful, but as far as growth goes, we generally learn more through times that test us.

If someone let you down, the beauty comes through healing. Maybe the experience caused you to doubt your worth, and perhaps it took years to get through it. Maybe something very old was tapped, and you found yourself reeling, flailing, or running from your feelings, or maybe you opened yourself and you were hurt, and decided it was better to be hard. But human beings don’t come covered in shells. We’re vulnerable, that’s just an inescapable reality.

When you don’t get what you want, you might examine why you wanted it so much. What did this desired thing (person, event) represent to you? Did you think if only you achieved this outcome, then you’d be happy? Then you’d feel seen, heard, understood? Brass rings are wonderful, because they reflect back at us some insecurity. What are we striving for? Acknowledgement? Praise? Love? Acceptance? Power? Immortality? If you can figure out why you want what you want (aside from the ability to keep a roof over your head and the heads of those you treasure), whether you get it or not, you’ll know more about who you are and where you’re at, and if you have healing to do. Happiness comes from the inside of us. Yes, we can meet people, we can gravitate toward people who see us and understand us and cherish us, and why wouldn’t we? Connection is the best thing in life, but if you aren’t happy on the inside, no one and no thing can fix that.

If you get what you want, that can also be a gift. Especially if it doesn’t work quite the way you thought it would. Here I am, holding this brass ring with a huge grin on my face, but how long will it last? Why do I need it to feel validated? Why can’t I validate myself? I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy wonderful things when they happen. I’m just saying it’s enlightening to look at the gifts in getting and not getting, to examine our longing, to understand ourselves. That’s the only way to honor yourself, and to be accountable for the energy you’re spreading as you move through the world. The more you can bring unconscious drives to the surface, the more you’ll be at peace. Unless or until love is at your center, you probably won’t be at peace.

Wishing that for you, and sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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Grab Your Suit, and Let’s Do This

There-are-two-ways-to-beI think a lot of people search for happiness, but a long time ago I started searching for the truth. When I say the truth, I just mean the truth as it exists in my own life; I’m not suggesting what’s true for me is true for you. I just don’t believe it’s possible to find any kind of inner peace if you’re lying to yourself in any way, or refusing to accept the truth about relationships or situations in your life. That means knowing yourself, understanding what lights you up, recognizing when you don’t show up the way you’d like to and examining what happened for you so you can do it differently the next time. Being accountable for the energy you’re spreading, being aware of the things you’re feeling and saying and doing. That kind of truth.

Blaming other people for your unhappiness (which I certainly used to do), is a form of lying to yourself. If you’re over 25 (and I’d really kind of like to say 20), and you are not happy with the way your life looks and feels, it is on you, now. No matter what may be behind you, what you’ve gone through, or how many different ways you’ve been hurt or disappointed, only you are responsible for your own happiness.

Clinging, manipulating and numbing out are all forms of lying to yourself. Love is not something you force. It’s something you give, freely, with the understanding that you may be hurt. Sometimes you’ll get hurt because we are always growing, and two people don’t always grow together. Sometimes you’ll be hurt as a result of where a person is on their particular path. People can only be where they are, they can only give what they’ve got. If you don’t accept the truth of the situation, you are in for a world of pain.

We all know when things just don’t “feel right”. There’s no hiding from that reality, but people try to do just that all the time. They hide with busy-ness or distraction or drinking until they’re comfortably numb. With shopping or decorating or eating or not eating or video games. With trying to manage another person’s journey, or trying to cajole the love out of them. Love is not a sales pitch. You should not have to prove you’re worthy of it. If you feel you do, you need to stop everything and figure out how you could not know that you are. Because that is some deep pain. That is the number one thing you’d better get busy healing. And time passes in the fog of a lie. It won’t get you anywhere. Wherever you go, you will bring the pain of the lie with you, and you will have to use most of your energy to push it down. You will make yourself sick in your soul.

I would rather know the truth and be in pain than sleepwalk in a lie. There is no beauty in delusion. The truth to me is a comfort, even if it cuts down the center of my heart. Because it’s real and I know I’m awake. I don’t want to distract myself from life, I want to be soaked in it. I want to swim, you know? I do not expect smooth waters all the time. We are all going to be thrown against the rocks in life. In my experience, that’s when the growth happens. When you’re cut and bleeding and you think, “How did I not see this coming? Why did I swim this way, and hang out here in the eye of the storm for so long? Why don’t I love myself?”. You need to find the answers to those questions if this is speaking to you. And you know, sometimes you love yourself but a storm hits, anyway.

This may sound kind of dark, but it isn’t at all. Its simply that life is full of joy and pain, of darkness and light, of laughter that comes from your very center, and tears that come from that same place, too. And if you’re awake and swimming, you will also be there to appreciate and soak in all the love, all the joy, all the yes of life. The incredible moments when someone looks you in the eye and you know you are being seen. Understood. Celebrated. You’ll know that that’s real, too. If you want to be happy, you’re going to have to swim in the ocean of your truth. That’s where the love is. That’s where you find your happy. Grab your suit and start paddling. I’m sending you so much love, and a boogie board, Ally Hamilton