This week I heard Esther Perelspeak a powerful phrase that jarred something awake in me. She was referring to an experience that felt very familiar – one that I know myself, and often see in people (particularly, though not exclusively, women) I partner with in my work.Despite being more successful and having more power than most of our ancestors, many of us still have an inner voice that says we’re not enough. AND we’re also clear …
Wherever we look we see things calling to us to be made more beautiful or just. Things to do, or ways of relating to each other that would improve the quality of our lives in a myriad of ways.
D’bi Young’s impassioned plea for living from the ancient wisdom of courageous, relentless, integritous love.
So when we see others pausing – especially when we’re pushing ourselves to keep going – another voice often emerges. It can range from an inner voice of quiet despair, through a cry of resentment, to a loud explosion of outrage. Whatever the emotion or the volume the message is …
“How can you sit down when there’s so much to do? Don’t you see?!”
… and we run ourselves ragged, trying to accomplish the impossible.In our society that places such a high value on the individual, it’s not too surprising that as our sense of power and capacity to make a difference has increased, many of us have also absorbed the sense that we’re single-handedly responsible for creating change in our world. We see needs in our own lives or in the wider world and take them on as if we are solely responsible to meet, fix, or create solutions for what’s happening.
This is a surefire recipe for exhaustion and burn out, and it leads to the line from Esther Perel that jarred me into awareness …
Each of us does, of course, have a unique contribution to make in our personal lives, and role to play in the wider world. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that RICH relationships, and the courageous, integritous love D’Bi Young so passionately calls us to in her short and powerful TED Talk is a big part of that.
AND what we often lose sight of is that this love, this respect, intimacy, courage and honouring of humanity MUST start with ourselves. Without that, we risk waking up to find ourselves both exhausted and angry.
It may feel like we’re angry at others, but what if that frustration is really the part of us aching for us to take a pause and rest by the roadside for a while? Because the deeper truth is that the more exhausted we are the more disconnected from our deep desires we become. And the wellspring of creativity that flows through us becomes like molasses. Our capacity to be present and responsive to what is before us is diminished. It’s like we become shells of ourselves, going through the motions.
If as you’re reading, you in some way recognize yourself here – perhaps with a dropping sensation in the pit of your stomach, or a clutching of your gut, or an ache in your heart, maybe even tears, I hope you pause as I did when I heard Esther’s words, and do what it takes to love yourself up.
Taking lessons about pausing from our pets – can’t you just feel yourself relaxing?!
Breathe, and honour the part of you that cares SO deeply. Recognize and appreciate the efforts of the weary part of you. Assure them that pausing in no way negates their passion, in fact, it is in support of it! ……
As you feel your body responding to this first step of nurturing, with another deep breath turn toward the wise part of you and hear what it has to say about where the next place to put your attention would be. Then commit to acting on that. This week, the response from my wise self was – take a nap, and recommit to your yoga practice – OK, got it! For you it may be something like taking time to express your creativity in a totally different way – making or listening to music, arranging flowers, or making art. Perhaps some kind of adventure is what your heart is longing for, or it may be some of the more classic forms of nurturing like arranging for a massage, or curling up with your puppies, or asking to be held by someone you love.
The big changes in our world that we’re standing for may well not be accomplished in our lifetime … there’s often no quick fix here, but they’re SO worth standing for! Nurturing and expanding our capacity for being present to the pain we sometimes feel when we look at what’s happening in our world is crucial.
Every emotion we experience is feedback from our wise self. They’re trying to let us know what needs to be done both to bring more balance into our physical world, and to support us in experiencing and expressing even more fully, the deepest desires of our hearts.
Listening to, and learning to interpret our emotions – especially the uncomfortable ones – isn’t something most of us have been taught. This is part of the work we do in our Realizing RICH Relationships community, as individually, and together, we learn to pay attention and be more responsive to what we’re feeling, and what’s showing up in our lives. It’s one of the ways of expanding our capacity to be powerfully and authentically present to each moment of life – and definitely something I’m passionate about! If you’re feeling a resonance here, please give yourself the gift of joining us.