There are moments, slivers in time, when I shake my fists at the God I believe in and rage against the injustice befalling me or this wounded world. Those moments do not, ever, end well if I choose to stay there. They usually are completed with an empty tub of ice cream, at least three whining texts to unsuspecting friends, and endless Netflix. Nothing gets resolved and I leave the whole thing feeling hopeless, alone and closer to an edge I am deeply afraid of.
One of the great pearls of wisdom given to me about 8 years ago was that nothing gets better in the narrative of my life without my choice to face the narrative. Buddhists pronounce “Life is Suffering”, which, if understood, reduces my expectation that life needs to look a lot more like an old time Disney movie, the happy ending, my perfect life stretched out in front of me. The challenge for me is to learn daily how to dance well with suffering, and still enjoy life, while not exhausting myself by fighting with my life.
Leaning into acceptance of the existence of injustice is the soil that I grow my gorgeous, lush life. It may sound hokey, and it kind of is, but when I simply am able to pause at those moments of rage and fall into my present moment focused awareness I can find SOMETING to be grateful for, spark of hope. And once I spend a few seconds listing out the “What’s working here” list, the “Suffering list” lessens ever so slightly.
The question is…Am I going to focus on the frustrations of the 2 hour traffic jam and rage at the pile up in front of me, or focus on the really sweet barista I dealt with this morning with a huge smile on her face who made my day! It’s my choice. Every minute of every day I get to decide what I focus on. Shoring up the strength to deal with the pain in our lives comes from a foundation of acceptance. I do not want to continue wasting energy on pointless raging. Going back to the traffic jam…I can thoroughly enjoy that trip if I want, make a phone call, listen to a podcast or music, or meditating. I can leave the car refreshed, without the need to regale the horrors of my delay to all who will listen.
It is our turn to take back our lives, not wallow in the difficulties that have befallen us, because we deserve a fantastic life. Try to fight for your life for peace and serenity by actually giving up the fight against your sufferings, your past, the losses. The more I dance in the life I have, the more energy and vitality I have to make the world and my life a better one! My losses are going nowhere, and my personal fairy tale life is one that includes hardship and grief.
As I walk forward, I intend to lean into the joy that I so desperately deserve, while honoring the wounds and tending to my suffering with compassion. But first I have to take off my boxing gloves.
Dede Armstrong, MS, MA, SRCD, POBC
Pursuit of Balance Life Coach
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