What if you don’t have to believe those stories you tell yourself any more?
Think of the stuff that you believe about yourself. Most of it’s not really friendly or useful, right?
Some of the stories I have believed about myself (and these are just my examples — your mileage may certainly vary):
- Of course it’s hard for me to let someone in, to be intimate and vulnerable — because I’m a rape survivor.
- I can’t really connect in community; I have to hold myself back — because I was in a cult for over 20 years and I have to be careful about masters looking for disciples.
- I don’t have what it takes to feel healthy and vital again — because some physical conditions have hung on long enough that I believe they’re permanent.
There was no way I could shift around any of these by force of will. Nope. I’ve tried.
I’ve done forgiveness work. Journaling. Therapy. 12-step. Retreats. More therapy. Thankfully, years of working on myself helped so much. I’m an entirely different person. I’m not so armored; I’m much less rigid. And yet, there are still some deeply ingrained areas of resistance. Of stuckness.
Defenses that I came up with to protect myself in difficult circumstances ended up sticking around much longer than the circumstances themselves. The challenge passed, but I held on to the defense mechanism and built armor out of it.
Thankfully, even a little bit of softening and just a few cracks can let in a ton of light and insight.
I’ve heard that the more time you spend looking toward the sun, instead of scowling at the clouds, the more light you’ll see.
Here’s one way this gentle and liberating insight came to me (as I was driving on the freeway right around the Equinox a couple of weeks ago):
For years, when I noticed the calendar turning toward the darker days, I’d find myself tensing and contracting, and thinking familiar thoughts like, “Oh, it’s getting darker earlier. I don’t like that. Because it’s the start of the season when happiness and ease feel so much more out of reach for me.” I saw how I really believe that I don’t do well in the darker months, that the longer nights and increased darkness weighs down my tender and fragile heart. I have quite the story about it.
But in that moment, when I noticed the beauty the change in the angle of the light was causing me to see, I found myself feeling pleasure and excitement (yup, not just that old dread). I noticed that the colors on the gorgeous California hillsides I was rolling through were different, even compared to just a week earlier. What a marvel to notice that the green on the trees is much richer and the gold of the grasses more burnished — altogether deeper, darker, and different.
In that moment I realized that I’m not doomed to repeat my past, including what I’ve called seasonal depression and an aversion to short days and longer nights.
How long have I been telling myself this story? Twenty years? More?
In all those winters, I know I’ve had moments of joy, of satisfaction, of awe, of fun, of excitement. But do I think of those? Not first. Not easily. Not often. Because I tell myself a story that it’s the calendar that makes it harder for me to be happy.
I’m gonna use some strong language here. Piffle.
I don’t have to believe that any more.
I’d rather look at the light I can see than bitch about the clouds. Or the darkness. (How many metaphors does a girl need? Oy!)
#learningtosee #lifeasitis #artisagamechanger