I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about a topic that tends to come and go in my life. It is one that always seems a bit hard to put into words. I can remember a time almost ten years ago when I was sitting on our bed in a loft we were living in. I had this surreal moment when I looked around and thought: all these things happening in my life are all a distraction to get me to not look at the painful stuff. A clearer thought was: working through the painful stuff is what moves you forward to that next level of understanding. It was not a fun time in my life. That day I was alone. Chris was traveling in China and life felt rough, bumpy, and not much fun.
The conversation from a few weeks ago circled back to that same feeling. Do we all have the craziest of lives because it keeps us distracted from the real and raw stuff we are supposed to be looking at the most? We do not want to so we stay hyper-focused on all that we have to do? We stay extremely busy, and then we never have to get really quiet and listen to that voice inside that tells us where we should really be looking? It has been true for me from time to time. I like to think that I am still listening even between all the many responsibilities and deadlines. Am I lying to myself though? Is it really possible? Or do you just need to walk away from it all, whether for a week, or month to really be able to see inside?
I just finished reading a book called “Dinner with Buddha” by Roland Merullo. At first it was a hard book to read. I could not get into it, and then as I found a few morsels of inspiration I was pulled into the quiet, thoughtful ideas inside. While it is a novel, it reads like a self-help book. There were quite a few ideas that come from the story and analogies the author shares. This idea in particular resonated as it made me think of that day ten years ago, and the conversation from a few weeks ago:
“Plugging along at monk-speed, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all some kind of trick we were playing on ourselves. Maybe the more we crammed into a day the less we actually experienced. Maybe the addictive hurry was all a kind of racing away from our existential predicament, as if we could outrun old age and death, and as though, if we kept busy enough, kept moving, traveled farther, checked more items off the to-do list on any given day, then, like astronauts in orbit, we’d escape the bonds of ordinary time. Or escape, at least, the manic workings of our minds.” Page 118-119
Is that truly why we do so much? We are trying to get away from our minds and true thoughts? I sure hope not, but I can see it being true. I know it from the tricks my mind plays on me. Yet I want so badly to slow down, stop moving, get rid of the to-do list and live moment by moment into what my mind wants me to learn, however painful as it may be to look into all that is there for me to learn.
We are constantly, moment by moment, being bombarded with decisions to make. Should I do that? What will happen if I say yes? What will happen if I say no? If I am direct, will he walk away? If I say what is on my mind, will I piss her off? What will my team think? I can completely understand what happens to folks when they fall into decision anxiety. Every once in a while my brain is completely fried and I have had a day of making decisions and I will say to Chris: “I am not making any decisions tonight, or this weekend.” He loves it (not really). Each decision tends to be either an easy one, or it is full of questions. Should I? Must I?
I just came across this article on medium.com titled: “The Crossroads of Should and Must.” It is quite lengthy for those of you with ADD, but so worth it. There are even sketches to help you along.
“Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. Because when we choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listening to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place.”
I love this idea of “must” being who we are to the fullest. Our core. How often and how easy it can be to succumb to someone else’s opinion. The friend that tells you that he is just not that into you. The colleague that tells you what you are trying to accomplish is not possible. The family member that is scared to see you take the risk. There have been many “musts” in my life and I felt them to my core. They were decisions that upon all rationality those watching would have thought I was crazy, but it was the exact decision I needed to make.
As we embark on 2015, I am going to think more about my decisions and how I feel about should vs. must. Join me?
We always have this moment, and the next, and the next. We always have the option to decide how to respond and react. We can lash out or respond with poise. We always have a choice. Last week after writing about how Marianne Williamson was running for Congress in California, I continued to research and read about what she has been doing. This led me to finding her blog, and one comment in particular resonated with me:
“We make moment-by-moment decisions what kind of people to be — whether to be someone who blesses, or who blames; someone who obsesses about past and future, or who dwells fully in the present; someone who whines about problems, or who creates solutions. It’s always our choice what attitudinal ground to stand on: the emotional quicksand of negative thinking, or the airstrip of spiritual flight.”
I want to be someone who blesses, dwells in the present, and creates solutions. I can tell you that I sometimes get sucked into the emotional quicksand of negative thinking. Yet, if we make moment-by-moment decisions, then we can fix that negative thinking in the next moment. I saw that last week when I was angry with someone. I really do not like feeling angry. I do not like how it makes my body or my mind feel. It makes me feel off. However, I have a hard time saying I was wrong, or forgiving.
Last week however, I leveraged that moment-by-moment decision-making. I allowed myself to be angry for a few hours, and then I thought, “What a waste!” Sure I am still bummed by what happened, but does it do me any good to be angry? No. So I told this individual that I had forgiven them (well almost). I did it in a way that made me feel like the bigger person (I was not completely ready to let them off the hook).
It was progress though. That is all we have to do each day is make progress in becoming the individual we want to be, to unearth the individual we already are.
Who do you trust? I have a hard time with “trust” in general. I am working on it though. Too often growing up others made promises that they did not keep, and over time it wore me down, and has made it hard for me to trust others. There are a few people in my life that I trust without question. For a select few, I might go along with plans, and have a back-up just in case promises made to me do not come through. Is having a back-up plan a bad thing? Maybe.
This Seth Godin blog titled: “Where does our trust come from?” hit home with me. I am including the full text of his blog post here:
“Hint: it never comes from the good times and from the easy projects.
We trust people because they showed up when it wasn’t convenient, because they told the truth when it was easier to lie and because they kept a promise when they could have gotten away with breaking it.
Every tough time and every pressured project is another opportunity to earn the trust of someone you care about.”
Wow. So true. Those that I trust in my life, were there with me in the fun times and the tough times. They never hesitate to tell me what I might need to hear, even if they do not want to share it with me, or when they know they might get the wrath of my response. How do you move forward and begin to trust others again? How do you know that they will not continue to break their promises? The only answer I have is to take it each day at a time, moment by moment, and listen for what feels right to do in each situation. Maybe that is the only way to build up trust, and over time let go of the control you hold close.
Do you show up for others? Every moment of each day could be a moment where you can be there for someone else, where you can show your true colors and hopefully they trust you in return.