What if the crappy job is there for you to learn new skills (and resolve, commitment, and courage) for the next opportunity, a career that you love?
What if the challenges with your spouse are meant to teach you more patience, more compassion (for yourself and your partner), and give you the opportunity to set better boundaries?
What if your exhaustion and overwhelm are how the universe is not so gently pushing you to rock bottom so that you finally - finally - learn how to take care of yourself?
What if there isn’t anything for you to fix? What if your life, your circumstances, your experiences, your challenges, and your worst of days are all there to teach you and guide you and lead you to what comes next?
What if you and your life are absolutely lovely exactly as you are?
I’ve been playing with this idea recently - although it feels less like playing and more like struggling.
I’ve noticed that I spend a lot of time in an “if only” mindset:
If only I had less on my plate.
If only my husband understood me better.
If only my teenagers didn’t act like teenagers.
If only I had more money, more clients, more speaking engagements, more writing opportunities ....
“If only” assumes that the solution to whatever is wrong with me is out there, in my external circumstances. That once I fix the out there problem, everything will feel so much better on the inside. That if my work, my marriage, and my children were better, happier, and within my control, then I would feel better, happier, and more in control, too.
But what if that isn’t the case, at all?
What if the solutions didn’t come once things were better or different or happier or easier but came when I accepted it all? The whole kit and caboodle. The big mess. Me, included.
Easier said than done.
Change is never easy. It’s so much easier to stay in the familiar arms of unhappiness, resentment, despair, and blame. Or focus my efforts on making changes to my external life that never solve my innermost problems (so nothing ever really changes).
Here’s the challenge: how to make a life I love without making any changes.
Would you like to join me? This is how we start:
Step 1: Notice what feels icky and sticky on the inside (no blaming coworkers, supervisors, spouses, children, etc.) Focus on the feelings and drop the story.
Focus on this: I’m feeling frustrated with my lack of motivation and inspiration ...
And drop this: ... because there are too many demands on me as a wife and mom.
Step 2: Then, notice where the icky sticky feeling lives in your body and what it feels like:
My frustration lives on my right shoulder. It’s heavy, like an insistent, whiny toddler who’s been carried too long.
Here’s where you might normally look for the outside solutions, like letting go of commitments and responsibilities to make more time for yourself, but don’t head in that direction right now.
Step 3: Instead, reach for acceptance. Take a deep breath in and then slowly exhale. Repeat after me ...
I accept my (insert what feels icky and sticky on the inside). There is nothing for me to fix or change.
This week’s homework is to notice when you’re feeling discomfort or pain, either mental, psychological, spiritual, or even physical. You might feel a pain in your neck because you’ve been sitting too long staring at your computer or this pain could be your body’s way to get you to notice familiar, but negative, “if only” thoughts or feelings. This week, allow your discomfort to lead you to somewhere new.