A ‘sister’ reaches out
Recently a ‘sister’ reached out to me to share aspects of her experience of her life and to ask for my advice:
“I am feeling lost without anchors in my life. I guess I am feeling the loss of physical intimacy, someone to just be there to hold me when I’m feeling lost and alone. Work stability and security in an organisation that is chaotic with recurring re-structuring and transfers.
It is bearing me down, the uncertainty in my workplace and bearing the responsibility of taking care of 3 growing kids, with sometimes no one to talk to for parenting advice.
I guess I had reached a point where I was just very, very tired and feeling as if I don’t belong or wanted both in my work-place and in my personal space. Tired of searching for ‘the one’ to be my life companion – whilst desperately longing for one. Sometimes believing that I am flawed in some way that is preventing that from coming into being.
I tend to always fall for men that are dominant and players. It is difficult for me to be attracted to someone who is less witty and dominant, as I have a strong character. Although I know that it will always lead to hurt and abandonment, am like a moth to a flame.
People, friends have said I am strong and a survivor from what they see. I know I am a survivor, but the scars have been deep and plenty. I don’t feel very strong most of the time, struggle to overcome my feelings of insecurity and capabilities.
I always feel that there is constant turbulence in my life both at work and in my personal life. How do I continue when I’m feeling so tired and hopeless.“
Warning: I am not ‘God’ and do not have ‘solutions’ to life
Before I dive into the heart of the matter I wish to make it plain that I am not in a position to provide advice. I am clear that I am not ‘God’ and as thus I have no solutions to life. To take that orientation is to see life as a ‘problem’ – we search for solutions to problems. Perhaps life is simply a gift that we are granted or it is a challenge/opportunity to help us unfold, develop and flower in our unique way in the process playing our part and contributing to the bigger play called ‘Life’. Perhaps life is simply a mystery that can never be solved, only lived.
“How do I continue when I am feeling so tired and hopeless?”
Sister, rest assured that if you do not actively interfere with your automatic machinery (that goes with being human) then you will continue and you do not have to figure out how you will continue. What do I mean? I mean that by virtue of being human and being here, you have been granted a fierce will to survive and an array of capacities that enable you to survive. Put differently, to be human is to be a formidable survival organism – one that continues because its design is to continue itself for as long as it can. That is to say your ‘human machinery’ will take care of surviving/continuing if you do not get in it’s way.
Who and what is the cause of tiredness and hopelessness?
When you ask this question (How do I continue…..?) what you are saying is that ‘the story that you are telling yourself about your future’ is leaving you feeling tired and hopeless.
In the Western world, Sunday is a day of relaxation – it is where you can take it easy, meet up with friends and family, do what you enjoy doing. It should be the ‘happiest’ day of the week. Yet, research shows that it is the ‘unhappiest’ day of the week for many people. Why? Because many of these people are looking into the future and what they are present to is being at work, slaving away at work they do not enjoy, on the Monday. Which is the best/happiest day of the week? Friday. Why? Because whilst these people are in the office (where they do not want to be) they are not really in the office. Instead they are living into the future that is the weekend – who they will be with, where they will be, what they will be doing……..
So let’s be clear on this: what gives you your being today, right now, is the future that you are living into. Here is what Alan Watts says in his book (The Wisdom of Insecurity):
“Human beings appear to be happy just as long as they have a future to which they can look forward – whether is be a “good time” tomorrow or an everlasting life beyond the grave.
So what can you do about ‘tiredness and hopelessness’?
You can choose to be resolute and fierce in your living. You can choose to relate to yourself as a ‘force of nature’ with awesome qualities – all that you need to live fully right now and into the future.
You can get present to the fact that you really do not know how the future will turn out (and thus is open to invention). You really do not know. And even if something ‘bad’ happens you do not know how that will turn out. What shows up as ‘bad’ or a ‘catastrophe’ today, can show up later as the best thing that happened to me, just what I needed to grow, to develop, to move forward on to a new path.
You can choose not to listen to nor create a story about a future – a dismal future – that leaves you feeling tired and hopeless. If one part of you is throwing up this story, then don’t buy into it. And that is a whole lot easier if you embrace my next suggestion.
You can, right now, deliberately create a story about you and your future that genuinely leaves you moved-touched-inspired-uplifted. What kind of a future, if you created it now and lived it now (as if it were real right now) would leave you genuinely moved-touched-inpsired-uplifted?
You can choose to focus on what works in your life, what you can be grateful for right now. What if you had all the challenges that you have right now and you lost your eyesight? What would that be like? What if one or more of your three children fell ill with a serious disease? What would that be like?
You can choose to spend time and focus upon those who are less fortunate than you. If you do that then you will both lose sight of yourself (and your suffering) whilst you are helping others less fortunate than you. Indirectly this helping, this intimate contact with those less fortunate than you will leave you more grateful for the blessings – sight, speech, hearing, movement etc – in your life. Finally, you are most likely to show up for yourselves as a ‘god’ rather than a ‘beggar’. For most of us it is impossible to ‘give of ourselves’ to the less fortunate and not to receive more back in return.
What if you simply you cannot change your circumstances?
Lets, just assume that you face circumstances that you simply you cannot change. Then what can you do, how can you be about that? Here is what Viktor Frankl says: “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Let’s make this real. You are 17 years old, you are into diving and you have an accident that leaves you paralysed from the neck down. How can you be about this circumstance, that you cannot change? This is what this chap says and how he has lived his life:
“I broke my neck but it did not break me. I am at present helpless and this handicap will remain with myself apparently forever. But I would not give up my studies. I went because of my own helplessness to help other people. I want to become a psychologist to help others. My suffering will add an essential contribution to my ability to understand and help others.“
Please notice that this young man has chosen to be fiercely resolute. He has invented a future that gives his life meaning and within which his unchangeable circumstances show up as an asset rather than a tragedy. He has created a story that moves-touches-inspires-uplifts hims. It is the story that is giving him being – a powerful desire to live to contribute to be of help to those facing helplessness – rather than his circumstances. It is ALL story: life is ALL story. How life show up for you is a function of the story that you are living into/from.
You can watch an interview with this young man (Jerry Long) and Viktor Frankl: http://youtu.be/1_lmMl4P7cQ
I will continue the conversation in the next post – there is so much to ‘grapple with’ here and it requires more than one post.