A new year brings up hope for new beginnings and new opportunities, but what do you do when you know you can’t go on the way you have been…”you’re done” …the spark is gone…you’re bored, but nothing presents itself or works to start afresh? You’ve gone back to the proverbial drawing board several times, and tried a number of new options that haven’t panned out… or you’ve put a lot of effort into things that just fizzle out and don’t take. What to do? How do you move forward?
Life is change- you accept this, but somehow seem doomed to stay where you are, doing what you’re tired of, trying again what succeeded in the past, but getting results that show that past is well and truly past. No matter how hard you try, things don’t take and you are unable to find your new start.
Then fear steps in with its domsday voice, “What if I’m washed up (you wonder), at the age of….? What if nothing ever changes? What if the losses and sadness I feel with oppportunities drying up, people leaving (or dying) and life feeling heavy, a drudge...what if that’s the way it is now? ” How do you move forward with that going on in your head?
This is where we need to keep faith and feed hope. Henry Ford said “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” No matter what response we’re getting we want to keep hold of the dream, the change or new goals we desire. And we need to adapt to what is happening. I recently came upon a symbol of hope that reminds us to do what we can, but to take it easy for at times there isn’t much we can do other than adapt to what we are receiving and surrender to ‘what is.’ Surrender doesn’t mean resign, and it also doesn’t mean stop making efforts. What this lovely African symbol of hope called “Denkyen” reminds us is how to pace ourselves and move.
“Denkyen” means turtle or crocodile, animals that live in water yet breathe air, demonstrating the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. As we are called upon to thrive in a challenging time, the turtle teaches us: breathe, swim, rest, wait . . . Breathe, swim, rest, wait. Climb into your shell to recuperate when needed, poke your head out when able and extend all four legs to walk away or move forward. Take the time it takes to adapt and move forward with the currents of change (that you do not control). Breathe, swim, rest, wait.
Taking time to rest helps us relax, focus, and release struggle in working toward new goals, but what about the fear?…the fear things will never get better? Fear keeps us wanting to cower and hide in a protective shell of waiting? Pema Chodren, an insightful, gentle Buddhist teacher teaches “fear is the vanguard of courage and wisdom.” What we need when we’re afraid is the courage and wisdom to know how to proceed, how to face our fears and move through them instead of withdrawing into our shell and hiding out.
Pema Chodren gently instructs us to “place your fearful mind in the cradle of loving kindness.” Fear is a mind game, fed by thoughts and beliefs we “do” to ourselves. A Course in Miracles writes: “It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way…No one but yourself affects you.” (ACIM Workbook, lesson 190)
When we are immobilized with fear these words may not be enough to reassure us, but in applying Pema Chodren’s teaching we can stop blaming ourselves for feeling fearful and use fear as the vangaurd to wisdom and courage. We can offer ourselves an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance of thoughts that seem so real and true. We can surrender to what we’re feeling and cradle our fear in loving kindness. Instead of berating ourselves for feeling fearful we can nurse and cradle our feelings, allowing ourselves to be where we are at this moment- in fear. And that is where something changes and a shift happens.
Fear–like all emotion–arises, lives, subsides, and passes. Notice the next time you’re sad and want to cry. Go ahead if it feels safe to let go, and notice without fighting against the sadness , squashing or repressing it with guilt-laden diatribes such as: “men don’t cry”…“I’m too big for this”…”stop being a sissy/woose….grow up”… or not fearing overwhelm and domination by grief… the emotion will live its time and subside. Then space is created for new possibility..an idea.. possible step… feeling of relief, perhaps a sense of being washed clean… for now.
When we feel we can’t go on the way we have, but don’t know what to do, it is important to cultivate unconditional friendship and acceptance of ourselves, compassion for our fear, frustration, and grief. We must learn to surrender…“se rendre” in French… give up, ‘turn yourself in’. Stop doing what you’ve been doing! This means stop relating to yourself the way you have for years with judgment, criticism, self hatred, belittlement, and blame.
A Course in Miracles reminds us in lesson 192: “Release instead of bind, for thus are you free…Every time you feel a stab of anger ( criticism, blame, or hate are different expressions of anger) , realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free.”
Which do you choose as you move towards the goals and dreams you want in 2016? Do you want to feel condemned or free? As Victor Frankl learned in his arduous, seemingly never ending trial in a WW II German concentration camp, there are things you cannot change or control. What you can change is your attitude. Why not choose a surrendered, loving attitude to yourself, while maintaining your focus and will to move forward, change and grow?
As we advance in life we learn process is more important than outcome. It’s not what we get, but how we get there, and how we treat others and ourselves in our journey. Will we hate ourselves for our “failings,” or learn to rest and take stock before sticking out four litle legs and moving on?.. remembering, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” -James Baldwin
Best wishes for a growth-filled, loving new year! Take advantage of my New Year/New Start promotional coaching offer. Move towards your dreams and important goals, supported and encouraged! For more information on my coaching approach and offerings visit: https://abigaildesoto.com/s-e-l-f-s-toolbox/coaching/