Like a tree in the wind, we are shaped by our resistance.
~ Author unknown
When I think of those whom I admire or those who stir my soul, one common denominator is usually evident. They have found a way to be graceful and strong...a gentle force, but a force to be reckoned with...tough but tender. In my own life I know there are times when I react instantly from a place of courage and grace. Other times the "shoulds" get in my head and muck up the process.
I've recently been quite aware that for me these "shoulds" greatly impact my ability to stand up for myself. I feel I should be peaceful. I think I should not be driven to action by feelings of anger. I should take the high road at all times & the high road is always quiet and calm.
These ideas are grand...grandiose. The truth is that my feelings are always my guide. I use them to inform me of where my thinking is. In a simplistic way, though, this can leave one to feel that bad feelings serve no other purpose. They are not useful beyond their ability to alert us to our quality of thought. The question, then, that I'm pondering is, Do "negative" feelings equal steps away from well being, or can they be helpful?
My short story goes like this. I grew up as the middle child. Wanted everyone to be happy and became the house comedian. I helped everyone else and I was good at it. I didn't have a voice for myself until much later in life. Much of the time I felt that the world chewed me up and spit me out on a daily basis...a mild wind could knock me down. Regardless though, you'd never find me without a smile on my face. Fast forward to present day, and I've learned so much about my worth and my voice. I am happy...my smile comes from here now. I am strong. I understand and am aware, which allows me to enjoy life with ease. But, the work that I needed to do in terms of conflict resolution did not go away just because I became aware of how I create my own reality.
Instead, I have become so self reliant, that at times when I need to include others I find myself stalling instead. What I've found is that there are times when anger or disappointment can serve me very well & ignoring or dismissing these feelings does not bring on peace of mind. Sometimes we want to be driven to action by a feeling, and that feeling does not always have to be "positive" to be a healthy catalyst.
To clarify, when I began to understand deeply that my feelings are my creation regardless of outside situations, I began to take complete responsibility for them. This is a beautiful thing! I began to practice and found that I could get myself into and out of any feeling I wanted through thought. I could observe this through my ability to be aware of my thinking, and I could count on a deeper wisdom to guide me. Suddenly the world was interesting and I was not feeling chewed up or spit out. This felt so good, that I stayed here...plateau-city.
Recently, as is true with all growth, this comfy spot was not enough anymore. New experiences brought new opportunity, and I found that I wanted dialogue at times. This wisdom that I have learned to listen to and follow was leading me down a high road that looked much different. It was straight and clear. It was not rocky, pointy, or edgy, but also was not billowing with fresh flowers and rolling hills. It was the road of a warrior and it led to battle.
Even though I knew I was on the right path, it was difficult for me to give myself permission to be mad, to share with someone how their actions had felt. I saw from a new vantage point that my ability to self sooth so skillfully had also given some people the invitation to offer much less than their best to me...habitually. Because my quiet, peaceful voice had gone unnoticed, I had to reach into my bag of tricks for something new. Since I was being led by the wisest part of me, though, my anger looked more like patience for what I deserved...my disappointment more like a need for hope.
Coming out at the end of this life lesson I realize that I had done it again. I had compartmentalized...fit my understanding into little boxes. Some boxes were good and some were bad..black and white. Being the peacemaker, good; Being angry, bad. The truth is so much more. My compartmentalizing had not let me see that conflict may be necessary at times, and that I do not have to loose my grace or well being to participate. Feelings aren't good or bad. Hard feelings sometimes lead to actions that mend and heal.
I can't pretend to know what compartment anything fits into anymore. To quote the Chili Peppers "The more I see, the less I know". All I can do is surrender...know what I know and that it's enough. There will be times for anger and times for peace and I'll know what time it is because my answers are always with me. If I choose the path of no resistance every time I will not travel far...I will not see great things...I will not be shaped by truth.
Cheers to the ornery! Cheers to those with the loudest voice in the room! Cheers to the lovers who speak up even when their voice quivers! Cheers to anger & peace, and all that happens in between!