Recently, I heard something that spoke some BIG truth to my heart. I think I may have actually sighed and looked up at the sky when I heard this. THAT is how much it spoke to my heart. These are words that I now repeat to myself daily, and they have helped me step into the TIDE of life with so much more ease.
They were the words of Kyle Cease.
“I really believe that no person has ever broken your heart. They have broken your expectations, and in breaking your expectations, they have brought you closer to your heart.”
Damn. I looked at my own relationships and could see how true that really was.
But here’s the thing…we are ALSO in a relationship with life itself, regardless of whether we acknowledge it.
So, this made me think about how life has never broken our hearts either. Maye it has only broken out expectations of how things were supposed to go, of what we were supposed to keep or have or be, what circumstances were SUPPOSED to come to fruition, of what we were entitled to, and oftentimes this brings about more heart-expanding, important experiences that would never have been possible if our expectations were met.
We have a choice when life breaks out expectations, when it asks us to forge a path we wouldn’t ourselves have chosen when it hands us a detour, a trauma or upset, grief, or disappointment or frustration or even extreme rage.
When we find ourselves muttering…”It’s not supposed to be this way. That should never have happened.”
Except that it did.
We have a choice to make in these moments. We either fight against reality, make it our enemy, make life our enemy and close our hearts, and to start to struggle to swim upstream and bend reality to our will. We can start to treat life as a frenemy–(we like it when it shows up in a way that is pleasing to us and we hate it when it doesn’t), causing us to separate from other people, from our enemies, from the wrong-doers and eventually dehumanize and reduce other people.
We can learn to enter into an unconditional and trusting relationship with life itself. I’m not saying this road is easy or that there won’t be lots of feelings, but I am saying that it will bring us closer to our hearts, to wisdom, to ourselves, to uncovering truths that deeply resonate with our souls. And on this path, we will inevitably be given an invitation to expand, to love more deeply, to appreciate life and to have perspectives that NEVER would have been possible from the former place of awareness.
In that way, we allow life, not to break us, but to break us open.
In that way, it brings us closer to action that truly aligned with starting to shift the tide of our lives by allowing us to SHIFT THE SAILS of the boat, instead of expecting the current or wind to change.
Whenever I talk to people about this, the most common questions that comes up these:
If I start to accept life, accept myself, accept my circumstances as they are, then what is the purpose of all of this? Am I just rolling over? I won’t ever DO anything.
IF I surrender, aren’t I just giving up?
If I accept my body as it is, then I won’t ever lose the weight.
If I accept myself as I am, I won’t ever be in a relationship.
If I accept life as it is, I will never find happiness.
I have actually seen that the opposite is true. When we accept life and ourselves exactly as they are, something profound starts to happen.
We can hear our true selves more clearly.
We start to get more intimately acquainted with our hearts.
Our next step becomes obvious and apparent.
We start to take responsibility for OUR part of the relationship with life, how WE are interacting with it, how WE are showing up in a way that enriches or detracts from our experience of it, that helps us to embody, grow into and feel like the self that we think we will one day be (when our expectations from life are met).
Only then, will we start to realize we have had the ability to do this all along; that it is NEVER about what we are achieving, accomplishing or GETTING from life. It is about who we are becoming in the process, how we are evolving and expanding.
And that starts with the intention to learn how to show up to life as if we are in an unconditionally loving relationship with it.
I am pretty open about my challenges with my very spirited and beautiful three-year-old son.
If you could mix a Unicorn and lion together, that would be him. He’s my little mythical creature. He electrifies my soul, but he is EXTRA with everything. Extra loving, extra challenging, extra talkative, extra curious, extra physical, extra boundary-pushing, extra smart. Extra. Which at three has brought my husband and his educators to sheer exhaustion. His electricity has brought me to life in new ways, but also burnt me out.
School (while getting better every day) has been particularly tough on my nerves because this boy will not match my ego’s expectations (in a very exposed public way). I find myself comparing his crazy dancing to the kids standing dutifully and quietly in line in his Montessori school. Very rarely in these circumstances does he line up with who I want him to be (or line up in any actual lines). It is triggering for me because I am so afraid of what others think and what this means about his development if he will ever get easier. It is a trigger for me to live completely OUT of the now and in someday land and have oodles of anxiety.
When I used to pull the car into the school lot, I would have almost immediate anxiety. I realized I needed to change how I was BEING with this situation, or it would start to harden my heart.
My new practice developed. Intentions were born. I started intending to BE with the situation differently.
My intention is surrender and ease in these situations.
My goal is one that is PRESENT moment focused instead of someday expectations.
Now, I may have to DO things to work this muscle.
I listen to calming music on the way to school.
I read books and listen to podcasts that help me learn more about how to do this.
I manage my thoughts and question them.
I connect to my personal values around how I am raising my son.
When I notice I am stressed, I remind myself to breathe and let go of what others think.
Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t, but in a way, I always win, because I am practicing and getting better at it.
I chose surrender and ease because that is how I believe I will interact with life when all of his stuff is behind me, when his behavior stuff is resolved. And although I can take steps toward supporting him, I cannot bend him or life to my will. I need to stay in my own lane.
And when I focus on the surrendered and easeful self (what I am in control of more of the time), then I am starting to transform my relationship with life to one that is more at ease and surrendered.
I am not waiting for life to say “now you have permission” because life it is teaching me how to give myself permission.
I can already see how so many of the challenges I have had with my boy’s behavior in the past year have actually taught me how to be more loving, to dig deeper, to transform my own perspectives, to cultivate new tools.
Instead of expecting him to change, I have to change.
Instead of expecting life to change, I have to change.
Then I start to see that life always hands you the opportunity to amplify and expand the change that is starting to unfold.
Even though it can be frustrating to my ego, every time my boy steps out of my expectation, he is bringing me closer to true and authentic love for him and for life.
We really all have it so backward. How am I just really learning this?
Life will start to change when our inside game changes. But the kicker is, we won’t even really need it to, and that is a beautiful place to be. It starts with letting go of our expectations in order to start to fall in love with life. I firmly believe that is where the magic happens.
I fully understand in saying this, that I speak from a place of privilege. That there are so many others who have been forged by a much hotter flame, who have experienced a vastness of grief and rage that I have not, that have struggled in their relationship with life and how unjust and ugly it can seem.
I understand that my future may test this concept of stepping into an unconditional relationship with life in ways I do not understand now.
But I believe stepping into the IS-ness of life fully is what allows us to listen to our own divine understanding more.
When we do this, love and life (because I believe they are one) are standing there waiting for us, saying:
“Come with me. We have work to do.”
Rock On & Be Well,