“Lean into the discomfort of the work.”
Since I was about 8, I have heard the phrase, “I just need to let it go.” as an almost constant refrain from the adults in my life. I too have found myself saying these words – “It is time to just let it go.” “Let it go, already.” “I am in the process of letting go.”
And it feels that no matter how much I am letting something go, there is still a part of it that rises up – like the weeds that poke up around my flowers. I am always pulling, pruning and clearing to get everything back to how it should be.
That is a lot of energy. I wonder how much energy I have spent letting things go over my lifetime. Over and over again, trying to get things in my life to how they ‘should be’.
Is having a messy, unsettled, uneven, unkempt life – filled with unpleasant thoughts, feelings, memories really so bad? I wonder.
Over the last few years, I have tried to be with my experiences more. I have tried, and failed. I have tried again and managed a bit, only to move to actively letting things go. Old habits, it appears, really do die hard.
But I have kept at it. Leaning into the discomfort of emotions I would rather not be having, getting curious about the stories I tell myself to see if they really are true. It has been in the process of being willing to be with my experiences as they are, that I have started to experience peace and harmony with me- as I am, not as I wish I was.
My emotions are messy, unpredictable and sometimes messy. My responses to the people, things and situations in my life can be calm and civil one moment and I can be righteous and indignant another. These are qualities about me that I have found to be shameful and embarrassing, and I have spent a lot of time and energy working hard to ignore or suppress them. I mean, “what would people think?”
It is phrases and stories like that that keep me in a cycle of being willing to face myself, as I am: messy, unpolished and (gulp!) human. What I have found in the mess, is a lot more that is delightful, fun, capable and resilient, than there is anything to be ashamed of. Beyond the surface emotions and responses, I am a good person who reacts from a place of fear, self doubt and fear that I will be left by those I feel I need.
That is my humanity. That is the product of learned behaviors and beliefs designed to keep me safe. Unfortunately, I have traded my strength and clarity, my humanity for a false idea that not knowing keeps me safe.
Today, I prefer to know myself – even if it means facing things that make me feel extremely uneasy and uncomfortable. When I see myself – I have the opportunity to choose who I will be now, and what I will do to respond in accordance with who I want to be.
That is the power I have sought in my work, in my engagements, in my relationships, and all the while the power was within me.