When we attempt to avoid struggle, we actually only create more of the same
So here’s the deal: I’m struggling with struggling — you know, the mere fact that I’m struggling. Where are my tools? I need to get ahold of myself. Why didn’t I get out ahead of this?
This feels like failure.
We’re surrounded by messages that tell us how we should feel at any given moment in time. For example on certain holidays — the start of a new calendar year or a moon cycle or the alignment of the stars, etc. And while I can find it comforting at times, as if to say, Oh, OK, I get it. Mercury is in retrograde. That explains the chaos in my life — this kind of thinking can work against us. We actually lose ourselves in that equation.
Do we need an excuse to feel what we are feeling? Do we need to muscle through and fix it as quickly as possible?
Well, if you are anything like me, the honest answer is probably yes. And that is the precise thinking that gets us in trouble in the first place because we can’t avoid conflict and struggle. Instead, we need to learn to take a deep breath and just let them in. And besides, they come bearing gifts.
Last week was a rough one for me. I’m not going to try to sugarcoat it. So in an effort to practice what I preach and seek…I’m going to share a bit with you here in the hopes that it may help you embrace your own struggle, to see beyond the pain and frustration of it all.
In the very early morning quiet of my house the other day (approximately mid-meltdown), I decided to plop onto the floor of my office and listen to a Deepak Chopra meditation that had just popped up in my inbox (I figured it was a sign). The intention for the day was ‘struggle’. Oh, hello. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as its resonance hit me to the core and the words felt like salve to my soul’s wound:
“My struggle has ended. I am in harmony with myself.”
Did you write that specifically for me, Deepak? In fact he did — for me, for you and for anyone traversing this human experience.
I live in a part of the world where the seasons are dramatic and truth be told, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the transitions. I never go easily, but eventually acquiesce, letting go of one and embracing the next. I pretend I like them all. I fall in line and ultimately go with the flow, however, I’ve got to say, winter can wear me down. So, with all that said, you’d imagine that I’d have been dancing around the house on the spring equinox…consumed by its promise of new beginnings and energy.
Nope. Wasn’t feeling it. Instead, I was actually feeling vulnerable, weepy and agitated. It kind of left me feeling as if I had broken my new year’s resolutions day 1. Epic fail.
Why do we do that to ourselves?
Why do we struggle with struggle so much? Because when we listen to it, really listen — it may tell us something we didn’t want to hear or deal with.
For the first time in all of my meditating (which by the way is no perfect practice), I was overcome with tears (and I’m talking big, ugly-face cry, flood of tears). Those tears actually felt incredibly restorative, a giant exhale of relief. Yes, my dear, you have been struggling. That’s ok. Be with it. Acknowledge it. And feel free to experience it even if you don’t really know what it’s all about. That’s the only way to truly let it go (and flow).
There is so much power in the acknowledgment of truth. We can’t pretend struggle away. Doing so only compounds the problem. Sitting there on the floor, in the darkness of the early morning, tears streaming down my face, I comforted myself by merely admitting, I’m struggling. But here’s the cool thing: once we see the issue, we can feel the issue. We can heal and move through the issue….and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. That is, of course, unless you are impatient like me.
As I’m writing this, I’m feeling particularly vulnerable because I had some dental surgery. The stitches have been removed, but I am still bruised, swollen, sore and healing (slowly). And I don’t like it. I was willing to give my healing a few days, rest, follow protocols, etc. but my patience is waning. How come this healing business isn’t falling into my timeframe? Frustration mounts.
I believe that everything is a metaphor for a greater message. The impetus for this procedure was an infection, one that had been there for a while. I secretly thought I could will it away, green-juice drink it away, think-happy-thoughts it away, but it had other ideas and intensified into a more pronounced absess. I had in fact held it at bay for many years, but on a recent visit to the dentist I was informed that there was no more time to wait.
It felt like a failure that I couldn’t heal this on my own.
Then post-procedure, it felt like a failure that I wasn’t healing fast enough. Do you detect a pattern here? We can be so damn hard on ourselves.
Louise Hay says that teeth represent decisions and that root canal symbolizes root beliefs being destroyed.
Teeth are also associated with truth-telling. This all makes sense to me on a spiritual and emotional level, on a personal level. It’s what I strive to do each day: uproot old belief systems that are limiting my vibrancy and potential — and create a safe place to settle into expressing myself wholly and completely. (I certainly have my work cut out for me!)
That all sounds good right? But when push comes to shove (or teeth pain), we want it in our time and in our control and only in certain doses. Oh, the Universe must be having a good laugh at me!
When we are in physical pain it’s often hard to reconcile the emotional component, but I believe it’s all connected body, mind and spirit. I don’t believe in coincidence or randomness. I love making the connections, pondering the deeper meanings — but my real work right now is being OK with what comes up. Struggle is a part of the journey. The other morning in my meditation, I let go of the struggle of struggle, the denial that there is an internal conflict within.
There is one. It hurts, but I am willing to see where it is guiding me. I am willing to trust it…better yet, to rescript it. Instead of receiving it as failure, what if we were to identify it as great strength and progress in our own journey? They don’t call it ‘work’ for no reason. How about patting yourself on that back instead? Struggle actually demarcates progress.
The days are getting longer and lighter, but just as nature tentatively reemerges from its winter slumber, as growth pops through the ground…we share in its vulnerability. Vulnerable to the elements and our own resilience. It’s all ok. Actually, not only OK, but necessary. We are living, breathing, pulsating beings. We feel and have visceral and energetic responses to everything unfolding around us.
Spring represents so many things to me: daffodils, rebirth, my birthday, the unpeeling of winter’s layers both literally and figuratively. Struggle unveils the possibility of new growth. And like the brave nature that peeks through the earth reaching for the sky, we too can trust in our own ability to expand into our greatest selves.
So, yes, the spring equinox of new beginnings, regrowth and chirping birds with all of its promises is in fact upon me, swollen cheek, sore tooth and all.
We are not cookie cutter puzzle pieces fitting together in the grand scheme of this life. What works for me, may not work for you. What stirs me, may not move you. But we’re likely in this together, doing anything to avoid the pain.
Pain has purpose. Struggle is a roadmap. And resistance impedes our ability to receive its offerings and move through it.
Perhaps if we took all that energy we exert resisting, pretending, ignoring, bypassing and scrambling to do anything but struggle, we might just create the space to tell the truth and be with it. What if the next time someone asked you how you were, you replied, “I’m struggling.”
It shows up because you are ready to see it.
Trust yourself. You are so much bigger and braver and more beautiful than you allow yourself to be. And may every little sprout emerging from the ground remind you so. Celebrate your opportunity for expansion. When we refrain from fighting struggle we can become observers of our own lives and suddenly we can see where life is calling us.
So may the feeling, healing and revealing begin!
As always, I love to hear from you. Do you struggle with struggling? How does this show up for you? Please let me know in the comments below…because this is also where we can share our stories and help heal one another.