Trigger warning: this post contains strong language, which I felt was necessary when dealing with the onslaught of worrying thoughts.
There comes many points in life, when you've been hiding from some difficult truth or realisation, head buried in the sand for so long that your jaw is tense or you've developed a background anxiety that comes from your fear of your own shadow - the unknown! That part of yourself that you're not prepared to look at, because you think it is going to be very uncomfortable or reveal something very shameful.
I’ve found, even though I have skilfully self-enquired and resolved this many times before I forget and anxiety still persists. That's because I’m actually still resisting, deep down and: resistance breeds persistence. But don’t worry, because when you've REALLY had enough that means you're ready to ACCEPT and start trying to trust yourself and say the magic words (inspired by the book by John C Parkin):
“Fuck it! I don't care any more.”
The cause of your anxiety is not really your laziness or your indecision, but it is that you have given too much meaning to the things that your deeper wisdom knows are not important - the trivial things like:
To your conscious mind (ego) these things matter. They are what your mind is full of. Clutter and Bullshit.
...So DON’T MIND-FILL!
The truth is that you do CARE but you just DON'T MIND. You know these flitting thoughts and judgements don't really matter!
“I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don't know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.” -- Christopher Reeve
TRUST YOUR INTUITION
Your gut, your sense of when things feel right to you, but seems irrational. Don't mind if they are not perfectly rational - that's just ‘pride’ fucking with you. You're going to go through a barrage of self doubt and judgement. Is that worse than the anxiety? Does it matter that it's harder in the short term?
Discomfort is useful. Making mistakes means you're out there, taking risks. Feeling guilty? Good, that means you're challenging yourself and pushing at the edges of your comfort zone, stay with it, be mindful of your feelings, thoughts, desires. Watch them, study them through your senses and trust that your body knows what is best for you and for the world. Trust that things are happening as they are, they are unfolding perfectly and all you really need to do is:
Pay attention and ride that wave. This is mindfulness. Playfulness and presence.
So ask yourself - would you rather be rational and 'right' (if so then follow society's morals closely and sacrifice part of yourself for that) or would you rather happy (have-peace). You'll know when you are ready for that. Until then enjoy the tension and anxiety with the deep inner knowing that you are sacrificing your spiritual and emotional health to fit into the society created for you. This is working from the egoic sense of you - who you think you are - and it's really quite fun! It's also full of suffering, doubt, anger and sadness… All the things that make life rich!
“The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.” ― Oscar Wilde
Life is challenging. Sometimes you will have an easy wave to ride, other times it will be a pounding, adventurous, challenging and even painful wave. Trust that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger (eventually). And if it kills you? Well then you're dead.
I don't know what happens after that but there is probably either more life of no more life, either way it doesn't matter. No need to worry or rush ahead. Some people may scoff at this because obviously it’s not a great strategy to die, but that’s not the point. The point is that we can get so fearful of making mistakes that we forget to really live. And the worst thing to do in life, in my opinion, is to get to the end and feel like you missed the point, like you didn't allow yourself to live, learn, lust, love and lose.
Personally - I try not to mind mind-fill (and I don't always succeed, there is a lot of silly junk up there in my noggin!) But I don't mind. I don't layer worry on top of worry any more. I don't care about fitting in - I say fuck it. If death is coming (which it is) I want to be there, making love, not arguing. I want to be doing something that I'm passionate about - making MY positive difference in the world. Or want to be there enjoying a nice relaxing bath, rather than chasing deadlines for money-focused clients. When death comes knocking I want to be like:
“Oh - Come in, would you like some tea? I've had such a lovely time in life and I'm curious to see what the next adventure is, death.”
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson
For some people it's even more than this. It's about their legacy. We all know we are going to die and to give our lives meaning we seek to leave something of ourselves behind - fond memories, teachings or discoveries, physical treasures, offspring (more human beings!) or perhaps just a digital footprint - photos and movies.
Human being need meaning, according to fantastic books like ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor E Frankl. It makes sense of the suffering we sometimes endure. But don't forget that you live in a country where you get to choose your belief system. We have physical freedom, because we have a rich and abundant society. But western society has forgotten about spiritual and mental freedom.
If you are anxious and spending your days resisting reality, then you have allowed yourself to be mentally caged by the very things you see as 'important'. What seeds are you actually sewing for yourself and for the next generations?
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” -- Albert Einstein
So - are you ready? Is it time for you to wake up and free yourself from those constraints so you can rediscover the beauty of an uncertain life? Or do you want to play the ego game a little longer? Personally, I’m not quite ready to let go of my ego, I quite enjoy it - so here's what I tell myself, while I enjoy life and wait for ego-death:
I don't mind. Life can feel good, no matter what.
I say bring it on, life!
"Tomorrow do thy worst for today I have lived, fully" - Horace
Diary Entry, January, 2016:
“I'm afraid this is too much, too soon. I'm afraid you'll end up hurt because I can be flaky and stupid at times. I'm afraid that it might all work out and I'll allow myself to ‘need’ you and that will open me up to more vulnerability than I can handle. It’s not safe."
...But you know what? It's worth the risk.
This recent diary entry got me thinking about ‘Love and dependency’ - they seem to have a strange relationship. On the one hand we know we can be strong, independent and unique beings. But on the other hand, when we let another person into our hearts it, into an intimate relationship, it usually creates some attachment; we want them, and if they were to leave it would hurt… this inevitably comes along with some pain and suffering, because nobody feels this ALL the time.
This fear and suffering can sometimes feel like a barrier to love, in the same way that fear and pain can feel like a barrier to adventure - but actually they are necessary ingredients in making the adventure worthwhile. We need some fear and suffering otherwise life feels empty. If we keep our hearts closed to really welcoming in another person then we never truly ‘face’ our fears.
Instead we cultivate different fears, like:
John Lennon said:
"Love is a flower you got to let it grow"
“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.”
But, Neil Gaiman said:
"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up."
It can seem like very insecure ground when you love a person but you cannot control when they may choose to leave your life. So we must work together - because we are both in the same boat. The paradox is that love is both independent and dependant. Some people have called this INTER dependent, which just means you need each other, to some degree and you accept that.
This is where I start to think of some Buddhist principles. The Buddhists have this to say about suffering: :
“The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering. To live, you must suffer. It is impossible to live without experiencing some kind of suffering. We have to endure physical suffering like sickness, injury, tiredness, old age and eventually death and we have to endure psychological suffering like loneliness, frustrations, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. However the second noble truth is that all suffering is caused by craving. This includes needing and attachment - to comfort (which causes ignorance) or to excitement.“
"To love is to suffer. To avoid Suffering one must not love, but then one suffers from no love. Therefore to suffer is to love, live and suffer. "
Just a quick note: pain and suffering - we all know the old adage: “Pain is inevitable, suffering a choice”. In this article I’Il be using pain and suffering interchangeably. At some point we must ‘suffer pain’ until it is transformed into something beautiful. The buddha said: ”the only way to stop suffering is to fully accept suffering.”
So, Embrace suffering! Become a connoisseur of pain and discomfort. It is the treasure and the trap, it is both the prize and the punishment for daring to seek a prize at all. If life was easy it would be boring! Like a poker game, with nothing at stake. We need suffering as much as we need pleasure. All it requires is for you to say, “I choose to accept that because I want love in my life, I want the adventure” (if this resonates with you - otherwise, ignore me, this is just my mind dump anyway).
OK. So, perhaps the question is: how can one suffer better? Love more?
How can I make my suffering meaningful for me and for others?
Here I think it is useful to start thinking about "what moves me to try? to fail? What inspires me?"
MY JOURNEY, SO FAR:
I’ve found it difficult to connect with love, since the heartbreaks of my early 20’s. I think that I have a deep rooted sense of fear about falling in love. When I look at my fears my biggest include:
And because I wasn't fully aware of that I never really faced up to my fear of losing the love of my parents. So I unconsciously internalised it.
The fears created armour. I find it difficult to drop my armour, to trust it’ll be okay - I’ll be okay, in my vulnerability. I don’t dare rely upon someone else and then risk them rejecting me or losing them. Fear of the loss of love is my overriding fear.
However… I’ve recently realised that all of life is simply about the following cycle:
LIVE - LEARN - LUST/LONGING - LOVE - LAUGH - LOSE ( in no particular order).
We must INVEST in the loss, learn from it and more on, rather than hold on to the hurt. In the end we always lose anyway.
Neil Gaiman, again, said it beautifully:
“Life is <like> a disease: sexually transmitted, and invariably fatal.”
Last month I did a catharsis workshop which ended with JOY, where we made a ginormous mess, which I knew in advance would require work to clear up. But we abandoned worry and care and just indulged in creation of mess and laughter and at the end as we hugged and surveyed the chaos I said “What a beautiful mess we have created”.
Because in reality, with perspective we don’t know what this universe is all about - for all we know we could be in The Matrix, like animals in a cage, being harvested by aliens, like some dystopian matrix, or perhaps we are all children in the garden of eden - it doesn’t matter which story you choose. You can choose to focus on the fences - the prison of constraint or just enjoy your time here as much as possible, with the meaning you CHOOSE to give it.
Love (and life) can be seen as a beautiful mess. Indulge in adventure, the suffering, the pain and the glory of all of it all! Trust that it’s okay to let others in.
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com