The times when I’m able to live in the moment, I experience a sense of peace, contentment, spaciousness, and freedom. I love these feelings. Anything and everything is possible. I’m on purpose. I experience joy and supreme self-acceptance (not to mention acceptance of others). I’m open to receive. I’m courageous and know that my life matters.
And even though I love these feelings, living in the moment seems to be a fleeting practice. I get distracted, worried, frustrated, discouraged, or stressed. I live in the future wondering how long I’ll need to be semi-isolated and wearing masks. I want to go back to the ‘way things were’. And sometimes I just zone out and watch TV.
And then I remember.
I remember my strength, my courage, my resilience, my spiritual practice, and how much I love to feel free, spacious, content, and peaceful. It’s always about remembering the following ideas:
Life is full of uncertainty.
Who could have anticipated 9 months ago that we’d be wearing masks every time we went out? Or that we simply couldn’t just walk into our favorite restaurant and have lunch with a group of our friends? Or that our normal way of greeting our friends (with hugs) would be frowned upon?
There will be times in your life when the rug gets pulled out from under your feet, whether it's sickness, losing your job, a major crisis, or even something called COVID-19. Have you heard the idea that “sometimes your breakthrough follows your breakdown?”
How do we maintain our equilibrium and our hopefulness during times of crisis or hardship? Can we still remain open to the mystery in order for magic to happen?
I feel like 2020 is breaking us down and cracking us open. Part of me is excited about this ‘cracking open.’ I can’t wait to see what the breakthrough will be as life shows us what is absolutely precious, valuable, and worth fighting for.
And then there’s a part of me that’s just tired. Sometimes I feel constricted and diminished. I lack motivation and drive. It’s as if a mere 7 months ago, times were simpler and all of my plans were possible. Now, I feel like I’m waiting to see what will unfold before I make any definitive plans.
Yes, uncertainty is part of the human condition (maybe now more than ever), but how do we deal with it? And how do we approach a situation where we might feel inadequate and helpless? Is there a way we can lasso hope and allow it to propel us toward surrender, alignment, peace, contentment, and purpose?
Here are three tricks that have helped me over the past few months to help me stay grounded, hopeful, resilient, and engaged.
Have you tried all sorts of ‘formulas’ in order to live a fulfilled, successful, optimistic, positive, and happy life?
Are you a die-hard optimist?
The ‘sound bite’ goes something like this: “Think positive thoughts and you’ll experience a positive outcome.” We believe that if we think only good, high vibration, positive thoughts, we’ll always experience only good, high vibration, positive outcomes. And if we aren’t manifesting what our heart desires, we get discouraged or think there’s something wrong with us and that we aren’t doing things the right way.
We’re taught that our thoughts create our reality. We’re trained that if we simply think ‘positive’ then we’ll have a good outcome or experience. What if this isn’t exactly 100% true?
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New Thought principles and ideas. It is the path of my life. However, there’s more to it than just positive thinking.
For one thing, only thinking positive can help us avoid dealing with core issues and feelings. Feelings of unworthiness, abandonment, rejection (or fill in your own issue you want to avoid talking about or thinking about at all costs) often get covered over and never healed because we pile a ton of affirmations into our day.
For years, I resisted ‘sinking into my heart’ during deep meditations or healing sessions. I was convinced that inside I wasn’t ‘love and light’ but ‘darkness.’ I had a lot of fear about discovering the real me and worried that if I did discover the real me (dark, phony, impostor, flawed, and unworthy), I’d get stuck there and never be able to pull myself out.
So I put on a happy face and followed the positive thinking formula. I fooled myself (or maybe not). I fooled others (or maybe not). And I told myself the story that this was the path to authentic, fulfilled, and joyful living.
Except I was never quite fulfilled. Or happy. Or joyful. And this pretending to be fulfilled, happy, and joyful only cemented the belief that I was filled with darkness inside. Because, after all, I was following the formula but wasn’t getting the life-transforming results I was looking for.
Maybe it’s about the story we’ve been told.
How do you react to change?
We know change is inevitable. We even say, “the only constant is change.” And yet, when change comes, it can be hard. We’re not prepared. We don’t like it. We fight against it. We don’t feel like we’re in control.
Yes, change always brings us an opportunity to redefine the story we tell about who we think we are, but knowing that doesn’t make change any easier, does it?
Instead of resisting, we can choose to embrace a process of moving through change that helps us feel empowered and leverage change in our favor. And the sooner we can move through the process, the sooner change can morph from something that needs to be ‘endured’ to something that can ‘enlighten.’
The first step is allowing yourself to ‘feel your feelings’ and to let yourself fall apart if you need to. Feeling your feelings (and the emotional release that comes with that) is an important part of moving through change. The problem is that many of us (most of us?) have either been told to stuff our negative feelings or else were criticized for them. And so we are now experts at stuffing our emotions, feelings, and needs. We try and only think positive thoughts and force affirmations from our lips.
Not all change is traumatic, but sometimes change (and our experience with it) can be a traumatic experience. If the change you are experiencing feels traumatic, don’t sweep those feelings under the rug.
I had a traumatic birth with my daughter.
I was only 30 weeks pregnant when I was having contractions. I went to the hospital and was told I was dehydrated. So, they hydrated me and sent me home. Within hours I was back.
I’m a late bloomer!
I spent 50 years trying to figure out my life purpose. I read books (some of which I still have). I took classes. I took self-assessments. I listened to others.
It wasn’t until I stopped chasing after my life purpose and simply allowed myself to BE that I realized that my purpose was within me all along. You see, it was ME!
Purpose is about embodying, and accepting, the story that is YOU. Being who you are and exploring who you are (and who you are not) unveils your purpose. And this adventure of exploration is a big part of your purpose.
You can’t get it wrong. You can’t fail your purpose. We tend to make things complicated; we think we have to figure it out. We mistakenly think our purpose has to do with impact, being a best-selling author, or being a change-agent.
But if you take the time to explore who you are, you’ll see that you are making an impact and sharing in a totally unique way. It’s just that you’ve probably believed in someone else’s ideas about fulfillment and purpose. Stop it!
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.