Though we can’t always control our life’s circumstances, we can learn to control our suffering — and trusting in self is the compass to navigate it all.
I recently had the good fortune of being able to put my Catskill Mountain winter toes in the ocean shores of western Mexico for a few days. Needless to say, they were happy (very happy) and so was I. The ocean has a way of calling to me whenever I am near her. No matter what time I go to sleep the night before, no matter how sleep deprived I may be — if I am in a hotel room near the water…she whispers to me, Wake up. Come play.
Early morning walks along her shores are simply medicine for my soul.
Perhaps it’s because it reconnects me to my childhood growing up on Long Island where summer days were spent at the beach — the smell of Coppertone suntan lotion (when there was actually only 1 SPF!), eating Mom’s sandwiches out of a packed cooler, sun-kissed noses, building sandcastles and of course, riding waves with Dad.
I adored my Dad, he was larger than life and always up for adventure. Even when it scared me, I always said yes to him. And as the eldest, I was his partner-in-crime in everything from rollercoasters to body surfing from a young age. The ferocity of those waves sometimes frightened me, but his words reverberate in my mind to this day, Just go with the flow. Don’t fight. Ride it out.
Oh, what a metaphor for life — one I wouldn’t fully grasp for decades. In fact, I would do just the opposite until I exhausted myself. I would resist, fight and try to control the outcome of my life circumstances to no avail over and over again.
The bottom line: When we get caught up in life’s waves (and we will), remember that we will also ultimately end up back on shore.
We simply have to decide how we are going to experience the ride, how much we are going to suffer. Are you going to claw your way back to shore, sputtering sea water, grasping for air with a bathing suit laden with sand…or allow yourself to sink into trust? Yep. It’s pretty much that simple. Your choice, there for the choosing.
The other morning on a walk with a dear friend, she was lamenting about how she was frustrated with herself for not yet being ‘over’ something, i.e. something that triggered her emotionally. Isn’t it amazing how clear we can become when we are looking at someone else’s situation? I mocked her ever so slightly (as only a bestie can do), Oh, so you can schedule your feelings and emotional healing, can you? We both laughed.
But that’s how we like to deal with the things that come up for us, the things that bring us face-to-face with our fear and limited thinking.
Riding the wave isn’t about having all the answers, it’s actually about having the wisdom to trust yourself. It isn’t about knowing exactly where you will land and when — it’s trusting that you will.
In listening to my friend I actually acknowledged that what she was feeling was ‘real’ in this moment to her — and it would be for as long as she needed it. She couldn’t reschedule it or shove it aside. And yes, it was stressful. It felt like it was tugging at the rug that could be pulled from underneath her feet. It made her feel vulnerable and it scared her. But it also came bearing its gifts; albeit in some funky wrapping paper. Who hasn’t felt all of those things at some point?
Resistance can come in the form of pushing back or denial — both equally unproductive. It would be wonderful if we knew the expected time span for emotional healing, similar to our physical healing. But that’s just not how it works. Besides that’s a lot of unnecessary pressure, even for us Type A overachievers and over-schedulers. Sometimes, instead of being able to fix everything, we simply need to sit and observe; observe how it is making our bodies feel, observe what it stirs up for us and observe how we respond to it.
Out on that walk, I turned to my friend and simply said, So what if instead of all this backlash and resistance, you simply told yourself — “I trust you.”
Think about that for a moment. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back for having navigated this thing called life? When was the last time you simply stopped everything you were doing, closed your eyes, placed a hand on your heart and the other on your belly, inhaled and said, THANK YOU. I trust you.
Remind yourself of all that you have done right. All the right decisions that led to this version of magnificent you. You are stronger and more gorgeous than you know — no matter where you’ve been, how far you’ve fallen, how much you’ve lost, how great the pain — or how full of sand your bathing suit was when you got there. Actually, all of those things contributed to your greatness. You are who you are because of having navigated them, having ridden those waves.
So much of our healing is simply about acknowledging who we are and meeting ourselves where we are — then reminding ourselves that we can handle what is before us even when it feels overwhelmingly unimaginable.
Most of us know full well that we don’t expand in our ease, we go deeper, learn more about ourselves and become our fullest, compassionate selves through our tribulations. Don’t resist the ride. Trust your Best Self. Thank her (or him). Don’t fear the waves…they may take you for a bumpy adventure, but they will also drop you off on the shoreline with a great story. The story of YOU. And that’s a magnificent best seller!
So how’s that riding the life waves working out for you? Are you a resister and a perpetuator of your own suffering like I was…or do you trust yourself enough? Please share your experience with this in the comments below — where all the juicy stuff happens.