Maybe it was the little dog crawling around on the bed in the middle of the night. Or maybe it’s because it was Monday morning, but I woke up feeling off. I couldn’t say why, but I just wanted to stay in bed.
I’m a pretty happy, enthusiastic guy, and I like being that way, so when I don’t feel like that, I tend to judge myself. “You should just get up, be grateful, and get to work!”, the little voice in my head chatters at me. It’s like a cute little squirrel, that becomes annoying when it’s right outside your bedroom window on a Saturday morning. Then it whispers, “None of that spiritual crap works anyway, so you might as well do something useful.” Sheesh! It’s mean, and can be so relentless.
So I pay attention to it, good boy that I am. My inner 4 year old has just taken command. I’m gonna make Mom proud! I go get coffee, I open something inspiring on my laptop and start to try to force myself to be happy.
But, I still don’t feel right. This is the beginning of the war within me. Great way to start the day, huh?
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
When life happens, there is a fundamental principle of spiritual work that is ALWAYS useful: Acceptance.
Let things be what they are, and life works out.
But Acceptance is illusive. What about the experiences that I don’t want to accept? When the little dog gnaws my ear at 5am, it’s not cute! I wakes me up, and I want to punt him off the bed. I don’t WANT to accept it. I want him to stop!
So, I remind myself about acceptance by framing it like this:
You will never win an argument with Reality.
(And you will make yourself miserable if you try to.)
Reality was this:
Hawkins decided I tasted good at 5am. I woke up. I was annoyed and not as rested as I wanted to be. And I had a bunch on my plate that had to be done that day, and I needed to prepare for it. But I didn’t want to. And I didn’t like it that I didn’t want to. Humph.
So, at 5:45, it seemed like a good idea to let my inner 4 year old take over. Just be happy! Life will work out. Right?
Sure, until what’s really going on inside you builds up to a point that you want to tell your boss that he’s a moron, speed up so that person trying to merge can’t slow you down, or send the kids to time out for no reason other than you don’t like them at that moment. (For those of you who are spiritual adepts, you will recognize this as a form of Spiritual Bypass.)
So, Happy doesn’t always work, especially if it’s covering up what’s real inside of you. What do you do?
When I realized I was about to go to war with myself, I kicked my 4 year old back over into his car seat, and took back control. I stopped arguing with Reality and took inventory of what was really going on inside me.
I was sad. I had a good weekend, but wasn’t fully prepared for the day, so I felt rushed. My body was tense. I had just spent the day hanging out with my wife and doggies and hadn’t stretched or walked or done anything that I know is good for my body, so I was stiff. I needed to move. My thoughts were telling me that there was more to do than I could actually do, so my brain was trying to rev me up to “conquer those imaginary dragons”.
All that was a weight on me that I was resisting.
Realizing that, I took a moment and turned my full focus to the sensations in my body where the sadness was. Feelings are always a key place to start. You never want to, but it always works, so I asked for help from Spirit and focused on my chest. It was tight, and my heart was closed.
I let those uncomfortable feelings move, and my eyes welled up. My body began breathing more deeply as the tension released, and this wave of resistance moved through me. In just a couple of minutes I felt better. Then thoughts began to arise that made much more sense than the overwhelmed try-to-get-it-all-done-in-5-minutes plan.
I had time during the day to make the phone calls, to finish the bids, to do the invoicing. It wouldn’t all get done, but a lot would. I even realized it was only 6am, so I had time to stretch an do 10 mins of yoga. “I can do this”, I said to myself, and moved on feeling empowered to do my best, and thankful I had taken the time to stop and connect with what was real inside of me. I got real, moved through the tension, and was actually now, authentically happy.
What about you?
Do you sugarcoat the tension in your life with happiness? If so, does it really work, if you tell the truth to yourself? Or is there a deeper reality inside of you that you ignore? I know this is inherently uncomfortable, but if you want to grow, you have to first learn to be real with what you actual living experience is. If you don’t, you’ll wake up one day disconnected from what’s important, bored, or even depressed. Not a fun way to live.
And it doesn’t have to be all dramatic. Sometimes Stopping the Argument can just be acknowledging that your 4 year old has taken over. Scooch her back over into her booster seat, and get on with your life. I hold a bunch of feelings inside, so I have to connect with them regularly to let those puppies run free. Otherwise their little piranha teeth chew will me up.
“If I could define enlightenment briefly I would say it is ‘the quiet acceptance of what is.’
Please understand, this is not a formula for happiness. Sometimes, when I stop to connect with what’s real inside me, I don’t become happy. Sometimes, I get intense. Sometimes, I become soft and vulnerable.
You never know what will happen when you Stop Arguing with Reality, but you can count on that it will be better than what it’s like to keep resisting.
You will be letting you authentic vitality move through you. That’s it’s job, and it will lead you towards your next right step.
So, in summary, Acceptance = Partnering with Reality. When you realize that you are in an argument with what’s actually going on, you have an opportunity to reclaim your ability to make healthy choices. You stop being a victim of what’s really going on. You put yourself back in the driver’s seat in your life, the seat of purpose, power and the passion you were born to share with the world.
In my next blog, I’m going to delve in to that elusive spiritual practice, Surrender.
How do you let go of these uncomfortable feelings that seem to hold you prisoner in your life? I’ll share a reliable practice that will improve your ability to Let Go when you are making yourself crazy.
So sign up on my home page to stay in the conversation (if you haven’t already) and share this with anyone who doesn’t like what’s really going on, and doesn’t know what to do about it.
As always, I love to hear from you, so please drop some knowledge in the comments! Let me know if this makes a difference for you, AND if it doesn’t, how I can make it better.
Blessings to you as you create the capacity for change!