Sharing the Load Makes it Lighter

This week I feel compelled to share one of my very first posts again. So many people today seem to be struggling and in need of support. The world can be a difficult, overwhelming, and isolating place. We often think that we are the only ones who are having a hard time, but that is definitely not the case. If this post helps you, I’m glad. If you don’t need it today, it’s likely that someone you know does, so feel free to share.

You Are Not the Only One

Your fear, your pain, your secret shame—whatever wakes you up at 2 a.m. or keeps you from falling asleep—you are not the only one to experience it. If you were to share it, someone else would understand. Someone would say, “Me too.” It may not be your spouse, or your parent, or even your best friend—it may be a stranger whom you’ve never met face-to-face. But rest assured, they are out there.

Yes, they, because there’s probably more than one. This burden you carry feels all the heavier because you think you carry it alone. That is not true. If you speak the secret in a safe place, others will speak up too. They will say, “I feel the same way,” or “I’ve done that too, and I’m so ashamed.” The relief you will all feel when you find each other is enormous. Sharing the load makes it easier to carry, and sometimes bringing it into the light makes it disappear.

I witnessed this on a private forum for a class about writing through your pain to the love on the other side. These women—complete strangers at first—gradually began to share their most secret secrets, and the acceptance and understanding is overwhelming. One will post a gut-wrenching admission of something which has smothered her in shame and guilt for years, and within minutes, others are posting. Forgiving, commiserating, sharing their similar experiences. Each one feeling like she alone had done that or felt that way—until the dozens of others spoke up.

It is powerfully uplifting to witness the healing that happens when you share what you think is the worst part of you and it is met with compassion and love. It opens the way for peace and joy. Feeling afraid, ashamed, or guilty blocks joy from entering your life like a clot blocks blood flow—and it can be just as life-threatening. Dissolving that clot by sharing your truth will clear the path for all the goodness that is waiting for you.

If you are suffering, I encourage you to seek out a safe place to lay your burden down. Look for support groups, classes, or organizations that might yield a space for you to share. Your tribe is out there, I promise. Online classes are great because it can be easier to be truthful when you’re not actually in the same room—or city—as the other people.  I have a special love for Martha Beck’s classes because I find they tend to draw people who are either also in pain and seeking to transform, or those who are or want to be healers.

Be cautious about the group you choose—speaking up only to be met with judgment can be devastating. I’m not a huge fan of most religious groups because judgment just seems to be built into organized religion, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t wonderful congregations out there.

If you aren’t ready to share yet, you could try reading memoirs by authors who have had similar experiences. Maybe start a journal or write a letter to an author you feel a connection with (you don’t have to send it). Sometimes getting everything on paper helps you release it, and imagining a sympathetic response can help you feel understood.

Whatever you do, know that there are others who feel like you, who have experienced what you have. What I am learning is that none of us is truly alone. We are part of a collective love, if we will only open up and welcome it.

 

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New Resolution: Let Go. No, Seriously, Let Go.

Here is my next resolution:

Let go.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? But for me it's enormously difficult. I might have a little bit of a control issue. I know, though, that trying to control everything just makes me miserable.

Because the truth is, we're never in control. If I can let go of  expectations, my need for things to go a certain way, and anything that bothers or worries me but that I can't change, it will free up a ton of energy and make me a whole lot happier.

This is something I've been contemplating for a while; below is a post I wrote about it back in August of 2017!

***

"The Power of Letting Go"

Recently in my yin yoga class, my teacher read the poem below to us. I felt that instant electric surge of recognition. The entire poem rings so true for me; see what you think:

“She Let Go”

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

by Rev. Safire Rose (as posted on Elephant Journal)

I get goosebumps every time I read it. Every line is what blogger Keri Wilt of FHB&Me calls a “head bob moment”—yep, that’s me! “The committee of indecision”—oh yeah, I’ve got them! “She didn’t read a book on how to let go”—ha! I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read on pretty much that subject. What, I can just do it without someone telling me how? What a radical, extraordinary concept! And oh, the planning … and the talking about it, and the analysis of pros and cons … that is me all over.

Every time I read those last few lines, I can glimpse the peace that’s available to us if we can actually let go of everything that doesn’t serve us. I can imagine that light, joy-full feeling of truly letting go, and I want it!

I find that I am holding on to quite a few things that are blocking my path to joy. Here are some I could let go of that would really lighten my load:

·         Needing to be perfect/not letting myself make mistakes

·         Needing to always be in control

·         Needing the house to be perfectly neat all the time

·         Needing to be right in arguments—there’s that saying, would you rather be right or happy? Must. Remember. That.

·         Agonizing about mistakes I made and embarrassing moments from my past

·         Worrying about any future event that may or may not happen

·         Worrying about anything that is out of my control

·         Self-consciousness and caring about others’ opinions of me

·         Wondering why I seem to be the only person in the house who can change the toilet paper roll or put clean dishes up. Just kidding---sort of! But there is truth at the heart of this: I can let go of the irritation I feel about these issues, and other ones that are really not worth getting upset over. So much energy wasted on the small stuff!

Is there something—or are there many somethings—that you could let go of? You can always grab them again if it turns out you need them! But perhaps you could experiment with letting go of one need or expectation or fear, and see what happens. I will be doing my very best to let go just like “she” did, and I hope you are able to do the same!

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The Power of Letting Go

Recently in my yin yoga class, my teacher read the poem below to us. I felt that instant electric surge of recognition. The entire poem rings so true for me; see what you think:

“She Let Go”

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

by Rev. Safire Rose (as posted on Elephant Journal)

I get goosebumps every time I read it. Every line is what writer Keri Wilt (author of the blog FHB&Me) calls a “head bob moment”—yep, that’s me! “The committee of indecision”—oh yeah, I’ve got them! “She didn’t read a book on how to let go”—ha! I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read on pretty much that exact subject. What, I can just do it without someone telling me how? What a radical, extraordinary concept! And oh, the planning … and the talking about it, and the analysis of pros and cons … that is me all over.

Every time I read those last few lines, I can glimpse the peace that’s available to us if we can actually let go of everything that doesn’t serve us. I can imagine that light, joy-full feeling of truly letting go, and I want it!

I find that I am holding on to quite a few things that are blocking my path to joy. Here are some I could let go of that would really lighten my load:

·         Needing to be perfect/not letting myself make mistakes

·         Needing to always be in control

·         Needing the house to be perfectly neat all the time

·         Needing to be right in arguments—there’s that saying, would you rather be right or happy? Must. Remember. That.

·         Agonizing about mistakes I made and embarrassing moments from my past

·         Worrying about any future event that may or may not happen

·         Worrying about anything that is out of my control

·         Self-consciousness and caring about others’ opinions of me

·         Wondering why I seem to be the only person in the house who can change the toilet paper roll or put clean dishes up. Just kidding---sort of! But there is truth at the heart of this: I can let go of the irritation I feel about these issues, and other ones that are really not worth getting upset over. So much energy wasted on the small stuff!

Is there something—or are there many somethings—that you could let go of? You can always grab them again if it turns out you need them! But perhaps you could experiment with letting go of one need or expectation or fear, and see what happens. I will be doing my very best to let go just like “she” did, and I hope you are able to do the same!

What My Surfing Lesson Actually Taught Me

I surfed! I actually did it! I was nervous and afraid, yet I got myself to the beach and into the water and on that board. And I fell, and I fell, and I fell … in an hour, I was able to get up about four times, and stayed up long enough to ride to shore twice. I probably tried to get up 50 times, so my success rate was pretty low, percentage-wise. But man, did I feel successful afterwards!

Remember how I said the waves here aren’t very big? Well, of course, on that day they were. They were higher than usual, and more haphazard. My instructor apologized in advance for the less-than-optimal conditions. She had just finished running the kids’ surf camp for the day and said it had been pretty nerve-wracking. So, I lowered my already-low expectations. I’d hoped to get up at least once; now I decided that if I didn’t, I would try again another day.

I have to admit, part of me was glad the conditions were rough. My small self thought, “Sweet, now I have an excuse if I totally suck! I can blame the weather.” And after my first fall, an epic sideways collapse that took me deep under and sent saltwater rushing through my sinuses, she thought, “We can always say it’s too rough and go home now!” But I admonished her and explained that I was going to keep trying unless my instructor told me to stop. It wasn’t like the swells were ten feet high; I mean, this isn’t Hawaii or Australia or anything. They just weren’t beginner-friendly.

So I got back on the board (which thankfully was foam, so I wasn’t worried about braining myself and ending up in the hospital—well, OK, I was still worried about ending up in the hospital, but the actual risk was lessened) and I tried again. And again and again … over and over I tried to get up and fell immediately. I’m not a big swimmer, and when we go to the beach I may cool off in the ocean, but I don’t usually spend much time in the water. This was up close and personal with saltwater. In my eyes, up my nose, down my throat…after every fall I was hawking and spitting like a ball player. It stung and burned and I felt vaguely nauseated. But still I persisted!

I was amazed at how physically tiring it was. I know, I should have expected that, but I guess I didn’t realize how much effort it takes to push the board out through the waves, then get on, then try to get up, then fall and flail around—and repeat and repeat. I began to worry that I would wear out before the hour was up—how embarrassing that would be! So I told myself it wasn’t an option, did some deep breathing, prayed for help, and kept going.

Part of it was pride. My instructor was in her mid-twenties, was a soccer player, and had been surfing for 10 years. This 40-something non-athlete wasn’t going to show weakness in front of her, and I wasn’t going to quit if I could help it. And part of it was determination. I had been wanting to do this for so long; I was finally out there, and I was damned if it was going to be a bust. I wanted to be able to say I gave it my all.

Finally, I managed to stay up and ride for a few seconds. It was glorious! I was so proud. (And I think my instructor was very relieved.) I was able to do it again, and rode almost all the way to shore before the wave gave out. It felt incredible—I had time to think about what I was doing, and when I almost lost balance I willed myself to stay upright. That was my shining moment. I was able to get up a couple more times, but the waves petered out quickly so the rides weren’t as long.

When the hour was over, I was tired but triumphant. I sat on the sand and guzzled water, catching my breath and watching those waves. I realized that I had once again shown myself that I am much stronger than I give myself credit for. I have more stamina—both mentally and physically—than I think. I tend to forget that, and doubt my own power. I may never surf again—or I might, who knows—but I will always treasure that feeling of triumph and that reminder.

So, here’s my takeaway: first, it feels amazing to accomplish something you’ve been dreaming of, especially if it turns out to be harder than you imagined and pushes you physically and mentally. Second, it’s always rewarding to break through fear and insecurity to try something new. Even if I had never gotten up on that board, I would have been proud of myself for trying. (Whether or not I would have tried again, we will never know. ;-) )

But to succeed—that really did boost my self-esteem. I feel stronger, more adventurous, and more confident. And as we get older, those feelings don’t come as easily. If we want to continue to grow and live a rich and joyful life, we have to consciously cultivate them.

That’s one of the reasons I decided to try something new every month this year, and I highly recommend it. It doesn’t matter what we want to do. What matters is pushing past our fear or anxiety, going outside our usual bubble of comfort, and feeling that gleeful oomph of “I did it!”

Success is not found in how we do it, but rather in that we try. Just the act of stepping out onto the limb—of striving for the branch just beyond our reach even though we’re scared—gets us out of our rut. Regularly challenging ourselves and experiencing new things keeps us engaged and enthusiastic. So now my challenge is—what in the world shall I try in July??