One of the most important lessons I’ve had to learn, struggle with, accept – was something my therapist, Michael Eigen, always tried to teach me. I couldn’t get it for years. Then Buddhism and 12 Step rooms re-enforced the concept and now I still struggle with it, but I’m getting better at it. The lesson is to not fight whatever feelings are in me – to accept them – to welcome them. The more you fight them, the more they linger.
It is like drowning. When you fight the waves, when you struggle and exhaust yourself, you drown. When you relax into the water, when you find the moments you can breathe and trust that you will not drown, then you live. That was my experience in a rip tide when I was in my early 20’s. I was in Malibu, swimming on a beach with no lifeguards. I went out into the waves, confident, having grown up on Long Island beaches, and I experienced, for the first time, what a rip tide is. At first I was tossed around underwater and I was terrified. My first thought was “this is it. You are going to drown.” And my second thought was, “Do not panic. That is how people drown.” Since there was no one there who could save me, I had to do it on my own, I somehow managed to stay calm and not exhaust myself, and I lived. It was a lesson in trusting myself and that inner voice that knows the truth. I wish that I had remembered it all these years – it’s a good way to live. Quietly, listening to that voice.
Not the other voices, that are louder, and more critical. You’re doing it wrong, you’re a fuck-up, you’re going to make a mistake, you’re not good enough.
No. Just calm down and trust. That will be my mantra for today. Let’s see how it goes.
Love this post. Letting the waves be waves (thoughts be thoughts) rather than trying to deconstruct them, is a lesson we have to teach ourselves day after day.