You see the well-trodden paths in your life. You learn ways to stop getting stuck there. You go, killer! The next question is, “Where do we go from here?”
We have to forge new paths, create new ways of relating to people around us. If we are doing our inner work well, this should be obvious to us. We recognize familiar situations and remember how we would have reacted in the past.
Take Responsibility for Your Reactions
Personal example, a weird thing I have is I hate waking up alone. Like, if I went to bed alone, okay. But in that half-awake haze of the Night Owl at 8am, I seek out the comfort of my beloved.
And if he’s up early playing a game, it takes me to this weird, awful thing where each of my parents preferred a screen to my company.
Please keep in mind, I’m still barely half-awake.
There have been days when I was well into a spiral of lashing out and self-loathing by the time I really became conscious.
My new favorite YouTube shrink is Abdul Saad. In one video he says that stability is necessary before self-development can begin. This is so true! I’m so grateful to my husband for putting up with all my drama and being a consistent presence in my life.
Sometimes I’m sad when I think of my old family and how none of my efforts made any difference. But without those people around, my dust is finally settling. I can begin to see myself as I truly am, without being drained by people who don’t know how to give.
So, when you see the old reaction – In my case, freaking the fuck out – but the instinct behind it is muted because you have been working through the blockage that triggers it – My fear of abandonment – you begin to see new ways to handle things.
Mostly these days I can stay calm long enough to remind myself who I’m talking to. Why I got up in the first place. Maybe I help deal with something bothering him. And, more often than not, I simply go back to bed.
You might call this a ‘soft no.’
Another thing Dr. Sahd said is that suffering is a necessary prerequisite for personal growth. Not to throw a pity party but, dear readers, I have been suffering.
I have been tired before. I ran myself ragged in my 20s because I didn’t know any better.
And I thought pushing myself would make me harder. It just makes me numb.
Since I married my husband I have pushed myself harder than ever, in love instead of fear. I hoped this would carry me through. I hoped I would adjust to this complicated life.
I’m doing okay. But I have had to start saying no, as an act of desperation. It’s not easy! My impulse to prove myself and my enthusiasm for giving made me turn away from my own inconvenient needs a few too many times.
My family is a wonderful source of love, cuddles and companionship. But I need to be alone.
I have described it to my husband as a house – I am happy to have guests but I need time to clean up and take out the garbage. It’s starting to pile up.
Despite all my explanations, he is very extroverted and just doesn’t quite get it. He is getting better at anticipating my needs, but I can’t expect him to be my emotional babysitter.
I have to let go of needing to always please others and always feel included, because I have to find a way to include solitude in my life.
This is a must. I’m starting to lose my inner thread more and more. Even when rested I’m irritable and distracted.
Life on My Terms…. Who am I?
I bring it up because life on our terms isn’t just about deciding what we want and pursuing it. I reshaped my life a few years ago because I reached a crossroads. But Happily Ever After is always more complicated than we might wish.
We will always hit walls. Sometimes our goals don’t align with our abilities and we have to re-evaluate.
Most of all, remember you are a work in progress. Life on your terms requires a strong understanding of yourself.
My first dream was to be a musician. I pursued this dream for years and with various methods. At 20, life on my terms would have looked like playing out with my band every week. Travel, drugs and alcohol, all that stuff.
Now I understand that, if I had succeeded, that lifestyle would have fried me. And quite possibly killed me. The crippling anxiety that stopped me makes sense in retrospect. I still hope to communicate with the masses, but I don’t even like watching other people play stadiums!
A big part of actually accomplishing growth is letting go of how you thought things would be. The Buddha said the root of all suffering is wanting and, although asceticism mostly pisses me off, I think this is where that wisdom applies.
The Only Constant in Life is Change
It’s important to keep trying to be a little better, day after day. And while our goal vision is a great motivator, remember that it’s just a vision. It’s an idea. The only thing that’s real is what’s in front of you right now.
Life on our terms is not about bullheadedly pursuing an ideal. And you will find that your terms, your boundaries, your needs change as you change.
My mother once cautioned me against using psychedelics because “it changes your brain chemistry. It changes who you are, forever!” Later I learned that, yeah, that’s kinda the point.
And anyone who wants to stay exactly the way they are is not someone I want to spend a lot of time with.
Once again I’m going to urge you to keep a journal. Just a notebook to write down your thoughts as they come up. It’s an invaluable tool for organization and reflection. Plus, you will be amazed how much you plain old forget.
What you want is only half the picture. Who you are will assert itself in sneaky ways.
Radical Acceptance is the Cure for What Ails Ya
I could easily have gotten some pills for the anxiety and blamed the world for whatever level of failure I attained in the sexist music business. And I can only imagine what a miserable fuck I would be at 35.
Don’t imagine for a second that this tomboy thought she would have four kids and just want to stay home to clean and write. Hell, no.
There is what you want, and there is who you are. You have to radically accept who you are, otherwise you will be running in brambly circles forever.
**We’re coming up on the last push in our Fight Despair Together series. I hope I have helped a few of you gain some insight and get a little grounded for the hard work in the coming year. Heal yourself, come together.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.