A Guide For Falling Apart

greatchanges

Those were the words staring back at me on my Instagram newsfeed yesterday.

Oh yeaaaahh. That is how this works, isn’t it?

Funny how fast I forget this simple fact: Creation is born out of chaos. It can be no other way.

And yet, I desperately mess with the pieces, searching for a perfection that doesn’t serve me. It leaves me both exhausted and empty.

On better days, I surrender to the chaos; life’s inherent uncertainty. See, it’s not my job to figure it out.

I’ve learned I can lean in to the not knowing instead of violently resisting it: let the pieces fall where they may.

Sure it’s terrifying.  {I’m a planner and figure-it-outer and still way too much of a perfectionist.}

But I’m learning.

I’m coming out of a very long, emotionally exhaustive many-months right now and the resounding lesson is this: Everything is working itself out (in sublime timing I might add) and the sooner I learn to embrace the sacred mess that is my life, the less I will suffer because of it.

My life is not a problem to be solved. A mystery and a masterpiece. But not a problem.

And it will benefit everyone if I can learn to be gentle with myself.

Things is, I suck at doing this when s*** hits the fan. I buckle under the stress and the sheer emotional enormity of it. I do nothing or all the wrong things.

Eventually though, I remember to breathe.

I begin to climb out of my self-imposed black hole, one millimeter at a time.

Here’s what I’ve learned and urge YOU to do when you’re completely freaking out:

1. Examine the origins of your pain. This is a two-part process: it involves figuring out when the hurt (the rage or distrust or whatever) first appeared and what belief system is continuing to back it up. Many of our current conflicts are dramatically minimized in doing so. By staying with the feeling, we can trace its true impetus and place our loving-attention on the wound. The irrational actions that stem from it will automatically lessen, even if just a little.

I’m always amazed at how much something transforms just for having been looked at…
2. Whatever it is, love it. After you’ve traced the true cause of your pain, it’s helpful to practice radical acceptance of the situation and yourself. You will want to run away and you will want to hide. But that’s how the problem grows and the pain deepens. We put so much effort into resisting our own emotions—numbing and suppressing everything that isn’t pretty—and we end up missing the lesson entirely.
And it’s a bummer because it’s all hapeening for our betterment; for the advancement of our souls. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Life stings sometimes, and so, if it’s too much to take on your own pain, see if you can’t help someone else with theirs. Tibetan Buddhists have a meditation practice called tonglen in which it’s customary to take on the pain of others, and then give them our love. It’s something I try to do when the pain becomes palpable but I’m still too scared to touch it. In extending compassion toward complete strangers, I grow more comfortable with myself.

The best part about learning to be mindful and compassionate with yourself? You will find emotions such as fear, guilt, and anger to be instructive rather than destructive.
 3. Flip the scrip. All disempowered action begins as a disempowered belief. If you’re finding yourself repeating the same harmful patterns, ask yourself what belief is giving rise to the behavior.
 Often times, after careful inspection, we realize the belief isn’t even our own—it’s one we’ve inherited from friends or family or even the media. Over time, it blends so seamlessly into our psyche that we begin to absorb it as our own.
I know I’ve long suffered from the misguided idea that my net worth somehow determines my self worth. It sounds silly when I say it now, but in our commercially-crazed  culture, more is more. And let’s face it—money opens doors.

Without it, I’ve felt frustrated and defeated at times, without agency and acting out of desperation rather than a sense of security. Yeah, being broke sucks.

But it doesn’t make me less of a person. And the state of bank account doesn’t have to rob me of my joy. I can choose to be happy with less and make note of the value I add to the world around me.

It can be difficult to admit the beliefs that are guiding our actions (when we really get honest about it) but it’s also powerful because we realize we have the opportunity to choose again.
We can ditch our disempowering beliefs and begin to define for ourselves how we want to view the world and, more importantly, ourselves.

4. Seal it with a prayer and positive action. After you’ve reflected on the roots of your pain, found acceptance, and begun to transform your beliefs; there’s nothing left to do but move forward. Take action in the direction of your desires.

You will feel the difference in your bones.

You will no longer be reacting to the past or anticipating the future. You will be electrified by the everyday and energized to take actions that support your new belief system.

It’s a process of both thinking our way into right action and acting our way into right thinking.

For instance,  allowing yourself a hot bath and home cooked meal may be just the gesture needed to affirm your new commitment to self-care. You’ll feel better for having done it (obvi) and that positivity will only spur further loving action.

Start small but remain steady. You will be stunned by how quickly your world is turned upside down, in the most beautiful way.

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