Author Archives: SoulfulDetox

The Salsa of Life and Relationships

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Six years ago I started dancing Salsa as a way to overcome my social anxiety and various insecurities.  Salsa became more than just a hobby. It taught me about life and relationships. Here’s my top 5 takeaways in my six years dancing (with probably tons of lessons to come as I continue my journey):

  1. You will always suck:
    That sounds bad but it keeps you humble. The more I practiced, the better I got. But the better I got the more I realized how much I didn’t know, how much I had yet to learn, and where I needed to improve.

    Some people are fine living a mediocre life and dancing “just OK.” Some people are actually perfectly content being “meh”. There are others who expect more of themselves and their partners.

                            If you like “meh”, expect “meh” from your partner.
    If you like greatness, expect greatness from your partner.

    I expect greatness and my dance director knows that. My director forces me to spend hours on my basic, which can be extremely frustrating. It’s a long and awkward process having to slow down and make sure your foundation is set before you try to challenge things you aren’t ready for. When you can’t even do a good basic (which is still my main issue), your partner is forced to slow down to match your level, which makes for a less-than-enjoyable dance leaving both people feeling “meh” in the end.

  2. Leadership isn’t a position that puts you in control of people; leadership is a responsibility to be present for others and inspire:
    Just because you are playing the role as Leader (either as a Lead in dance or a director of a dance team), doesn’t make you a great leader. True leadership inspires. One of my favorite quotes on leadership by Simon Sinek:

                                 “Leading is not the same as being a leader.
    Leading means others are willing to follow, not because
    they have to, but because they want to.”

    What do you bring to the table? Why would anyone want to follow you? Why waste your time or theirs? Don’t make this all about you. Maybe you aren’t a great Leader or Follower (YET!!). That’s ok. Let your partner know where you are in the game. Give them a heads up as to what you have to offer. Who knows? With such transparency, they’ll probably still be happy to dance with you.

  3. You don’t need a partner to enjoy the dance:
    After a few years dancing with a partner I realized that I had a lot of work to do on myself. My technique was off, my basic was shit (still is), and I couldn’t for the life of me find my core (and I still struggle with that). So I decided to stop dancing with a partner and join a ladies team in which I would be forced to own ALL my flaws by myself. I could no longer blame my mistakes and weaknesses on my partner. I could no longer ask someone else to help me keep my balance.

    And when you’re ready to go back into partner work, there’s still moments when you gotta be on your own. In salsa, we call it “shines”. It’s your moment to shine. Show what you’ve got. Show what you’ve worked for. Let your partner shine as well. When the two of you are able to shine together, but separately, it’s a fun, exciting, and beautiful dance the whole world wants to see.

  4. Trust:
    No relationship, whether it be a 3-minute dance or a long-term romantic relationship, can survive without trust. We trust that our partner chose to dance with us because they wanted to invest that time in us.

                                    NOT because it made them look or feel good.
    NOT because they were hoping to get lucky later…
    NOT because it made them feel guilty if they didn’t.
    And definitely NOT because they were bored and you were the only
    thing available at the moment…

    That said, before we can trust anyone, we MUST be able to trust ourselves. One of the biggest reasons we don’t trust others is because we don’t trust ourselves. But what is trust? Trust isn’t expecting that no one ever will ever disappoint you, that nothing will ever go wrong, or others will always make you happy.

                    Trust is knowing that you have what it takes inside of you to show up
    as the best version of yourself in whatever moment,
    and get through the dance knowing you did your best.

    Trust is having faith that the process you’ve chosen to engage in
    will work out exactly as it should
    because you’ve done the best you can in that moment.

    It may not be perfect,
    Maybe it was the worst dance of your life.
    It may even end up being the best dance of your life!!
    But you can trust that you gave it your all and that made it a success.

    Everything else is completely out of your hands. How your partner dances is on them. How they juggle their own insecurities and weaknesses is also on them.  This kinda follows the previous point, which is that you gotta do your part and work on yourself. But trust is a two way street. We want to trust that the person we choose to dance with is also doing their best. We can usually tell fairly early on when they are just not into it. Regardless, if you trust yourself, you have more patience within yourself, allowing your partner the space and time to work on themselves, express themselves, and feel the joy of dance.

  5. Life is the dancer. YOU are the DANCE:
    One of the biggest challenges we all face in life is thinking that we are in control and that we know what is best for others or how things “should be”. We believe we know what is “right” and judge everything else as wrong. We determine in our minds that “Once I make things or people change… once I convince that person they are wrong…once I get what I want… then I can finally be happy. I can finally be at peace.”

    We are at a constant war within ourselves and reality, only to be drastically disappointed when we find out that what we thought we wanted was NOT the key to our happiness.

    Through dance, I learned that “life lives within me” and I am a mere vessel. The more I got to know my fellow dancers, I realized that life was expressing itself artistically in all of us, in such a unique way, and it was ALL a beautiful collection of dances. Life dances through us all, it uses us to express itself and makes us the choreography. We can choose to be “just another dance” or we can choose to be the most beautiful, thoughtful, and inspiring choreography that life can dance through.

Feeling Guilt…A Wasted Emotion

The ending of a relationship will naturally lead to many feelings but the biggest one we hold on to  isn’t anger or sadness, but guilt. After feeling shock, sadness, and anger, at one point you will feel guilt:

“Sh*t… I really f*ed up this time….”
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“What could I have done differently to make it work out?”
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“If only I did xyz, then things would be different.”
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“Even though it’s been over for a while, maybe if I do xyz, then maybe my ex-partner would change…or come back to me…”
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“I need to prove my love for my partner and give what my partner is asking for, even though it hurts me; even though it means I have to go against who I am and what I want… BUT then my partner will see and feel my love and everything will miraculously get better!!”

Years of self-sacrifice and martyrdom go by and nothing we do makes it better. The relationship is still unhealthy, maybe even toxic.

“My partner isn’t changing to be the person I need them to be.”
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“Maybe my partner is happy that I changed, but I’m miserable! My partner has everything they wanted from me, but I’ve lost all I am and all I wanted…”

Even after the relationship has run its course, we keep on brainstorming, finding creative ways to make a relationship that wasn’t meant to be, BE.

Even when it all falls apart, as it inevitably does, we feel guilty.

Whether you left, or your partner left, you can’t help but feel guilty… THIS IS NORMAL.

“How did I let this happen? What can I do to fix it? There’s gotta be something I can do to make it better!”

Feeling guilty for something you thought was bad (whether it actually was bad or it wasn’t) is a wasted emotion. Do you feel like if you take on the entire blame it could have changed the outcome? If you do take on full blame will it enable you to go back and make things work out?

Alternatively, if you (gasp!) ALLOW the other person to own THEIR share of the problem (which likely won’t ever happen) will it make you feel less responsible and you’re dead set on stealing that responsibility from them because you don’t respect them enough to let them own their part? Maybe that would make you feel even more guilty?

Are you playing the HERO? Maybe even thinking you can play God, trying to save or spare the other person from feeling bad or guilty?

Imagine if your best friend or even your daughter/son was in the same situation. What would you tell them? What would you advise them?

You would probably tell them that rather than piss and moan and sulk in your one-man pity party, to take responsibility for only YOUR part of the problem, respect your ex/partner to own THEIR part, and make conscious choices moving forward that allow you to live and be your best version of yourself.

Consider what you gained from that experience. As you write your list of pros and cons, ask yourself: was it worth it? Would you prefer to go back to what it was? Because if you think there is any other option (going back to a fantasy version) you’re still in the denial phase… sorry… 😦

Feeling guilty is basically an effective way of punishing yourself. Do you like punishing yourself? Do you like making yourself suffer? Your ego convinces you that you deserve all sorts of punishment for what you’ve done. It convinces you that you have some sort of control…over the inevitable pitfalls of life and control over others. And dude…that’s just sick…

But think about it… Is it possible that the end of this relationship was a pathway to a second chance to make things right within yourself and others?

Yeah, maybe things didn’t turn out the way you wanted. THAT’S LIFE. GET OVER IT.

Look at what you have in front of you right now and tell yourself the truth. You wanted to prove your love, but are you even giving yourself the love you deserve? How can you love others when you can’t even love yourself? Why would anyone want to be loved by someone who has absolutely no respect, dignity, and love for themselves?

Look in front of you. Who is by your side? Who is supporting you? Are you allowing others to love you? Or are you DEAD SET on making this person who clearly does NOT love you, love you?

You’ve spent so much time believing that things SHOULD be different. But how does that belief serve you? If you let go, do you think you’re letting yourself off the hook? Do you feel that at some level, by not sacrificing your dignity and dreams, you would be dishonoring the love you have for this person?

STOP.

Think…

Where did the breakdown in the relationship happen? Was it suddenly? Or was it a constant issue? Are you feeling guilty about the loss? Or are you actually feeling bad for the problems in the relationship you continued to have and hold on to but were not able to fix?

At one point, you’re going to have to face reality. You’re going to have to look at what is in front of you and accept the fact that sh*t happens, things don’t always go the way we planned or hoped, even when we gave it our all, and even if we “kinda gave it our all”… and THAT IS LIFE.

Almost no one walks into a relationship thinking “gee, I hope this doesn’t work out”. No, we all want to love and be loved and do our best with the time and person we are given.

But you gotta know that accepting reality isn’t the same as liking it. You don’t have to LIKE the reality that is in front of you…but you do have to accept it. You just have to stop lying to yourself that it is any different, or that it “should” be any different. THIS IS YOUR REALITY. Suck it up. Own it. Move on. Be better…

So what’s stopping you? Do you feel bad about doing what is right for you? If so, ask yourself why. Why are you incapable of doing what is best for you? Why are you incapable of loving yourself? Why do you think you don’t deserve a HEALTHY LOVING RELATIONSHIP?

Self love is feeling love and compassion for yourself.
Self love is a concept.
After self-love comes self-care.
Self-care is ACTION.

That’s where we usually get stuck. How do we actually love ourselves? Isn’t that selfish? Won’t that make me feel MORE guilty?

Not at all.

Self-care is the simple act of proving that you care enough for yourself to take care of yourself. It’s the small acts of kindness, like getting more organized, maybe seeking therapy, maybe eating better, practicing patience, and maybe even forgiving yourself

Feeling Guilt is a wasted emotion. It’s time to move on.
Don’t wanna move on? Then stop complaining. guilt

 

A Complicated Relationship

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These days I’ve been struggling in my relationship with Reality. Reality doesn’t do the things I want it to. Reality doesn’t tell me the things I want to hear. Sometimes I think Reality is intentionally punishing me. Oftentimes, Reality will even take things away from me that I really wanted to hold on to. Sometimes I wonder if our relationship is one-sided because every time I try to argue with Reality, I always lose, 100% of the time. Reality never apologizes. It just is…unapologetically Reality.

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with having a meaningful relationship with Reality is that I’ve lied to myself, telling myself that if I’m friends with Reality then I can’t also be friends with, “My Ideals and Preferences”.

Notice “My Ideals and Preferences” goes by a much longer name… she’s so complicated, always changing, and sometimes she just seems to be all over the place… Reality is so much simpler, but so stubborn. These two rarely get along because they clash so much, yet both are such an important part of me. I end up having to be the middle man, trying to help them come to a peaceful resolution, and that is not an easy task.

“My Ideals and Preferences” tells me Reality is mean and ugly. Reality tells me “My Ideals and Preferences” are the cause of my suffering. Both demand that I pick one.

To be honest, I like hanging out with “My Ideals and Preferences” more than “Reality” because “My Ideals and Preferences” make me feel justified in doing and thinking what I do. In fact, I can usually get away with a lot of stuff that isn’t good for me by listening to “My Ideals and Preferences”. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of conflict with my personal relationships, my professional relationships, my career, my family, my children, and can sometimes negatively affect my physical health.

That’s when I realize that maybe “Reality” isn’t that bad after all, even if I’m not seeing or getting what “My Ideals and Preferences” gives me.

When I embrace Reality, Reality helps me come up with realistic, effective, and long-term solutions to my problems. Reality helps me see things as they are, which enables me to deal with life much more effectively. Reality is quite different from My Ideals and Preferences, but what I’ve come to realize is, Reality is actually much kinder than the story My Ideals and Preferences say it is.

However, “My Ideals and Preferences” will always have a special place in my heart. My Ideals and Preferences remind me who I am, encourage me, motivate me, and make me feel brave when pursuing the unknown. She also reminds me to take good care of myself when Reality gets to be a bit too overwhelming…

It’s on me to make this relationship a healthy one, even if it is a complicated one.

wonderfullife

Self-Respect

Up until recently I used to think self-respect meant not allowing people to walk all over you. That approach required quite a lot of unearned arrogance and pride, a closed mind, and very little space for humility. That didn’t get me far…

Now I realize that self-respect is a healthy balance of seeing what needs to be fixed within me and changing it to be the best version of myself. But this comes coupled with a confidence and contentment knowing I am good enough, doing the best I can, and am right where I should be.

Ultimately, I recognized that self-respect meant me being genuinely honest with myself, and not allowing anyone’s attitude or behavior toward me affect how I feel about me. It meant not letting someone or something lead me to act with questionable dignity and integrity.

Self-respect isn’t easy!! 😂

Joy & Suffering

bee this time

The extent of the damage we cause to ourselves and others, in trying to relieve ourselves from our perceived suffering, can be minimized when we finally accept and realize that we cannot control others.
 
If we were to be brutally honest with ourselves we would understand that our suffering is the result of either (a) the natural consequences of our shitty choices, thoughts, attitude, or behavior or (b) because of something completely out of our control.
 
In either case, when we hold someone else responsible for making our suffering go away, we are in essence running from our responsibilities. We are trying to make someone else change so that we don’t have to feel the way we feel. We make ourselves a powerless victim. We strip ourselves of our power, and we give all the power to the person that we believe is causing suffering.
 
JOY comes in and out of our life. It’s a wonderful feeling. And just like JOY, suffering also comes in and out of our life. Without one you can’t have the other. Just like we can’t feel warmth if we’ve never felt cold. But the good news is we can significantly decrease our suffering.

How?

 
As we mature, we learn that trying to make others change only leads to more suffering. We may think our mini battles with this person is making a difference, but it is just a distraction from the real problem. We delude ourselves into thinking we’re taking action on a problem, when in reality we are running into a glass wall over and over and over again. We can’t see the wall in front of us. We have to stop, clear our vision, and open our minds (the door).
 
We’re constantly on the search for an escape from suffering and discomfort. We are at a constant war with the world, with ourselves, with others, and with reality, and that is the ultimate source of suffering.
 
Eventually, we come to realize that the only thing we will ever have control over is our attitude and how we face suffering and discomfort. Interestingly, this (our attitude) is our primary source of JOY and this JOY can be made and experienced as much as you want.
 
Joy begins pouring into our lives, and suffering is minimized when you stop trying to change others. You become allies with Life. You come to understand yourself and your fellow humans a little better. Life gets easier, because you get better at dealing with it.

Why We Love Who We Love

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If we are so smart, why do we make such foolish choices on who we choose to love? Does love make us foolish? Is it truly out of our control? French physicist Blaise Pascal once wrote, ”the heart has reasons that reason cannot comprehend.” Fortunately, that may not be true.
Now there’s a scientific explanation on why we choose who we love and how that changes who we are at the core. The answer: blame it on our limbic system.
The limbic system is the part of our brain that drives our motivation, emotion, and learning, and if left unchecked most often runs on the default of old memories and the familiar. While at one point this was a necessary function for our survival (i.e., we’ve learned to remember that all hungry tigers will eat you, so run), as we evolve, we haven’t quite figured out how to be the master of our limbic system, which can get us into trouble when it comes to meaningful relationships.
Why are some women attracted to “the bad boy”? Why are some men attracted to the “bitchy control freak”?
As humans, the primordial area of our brain is responsible for creating both the capacity and the need for emotional intimacy. The limbic system is only ONE part of three other very important systems (the other two being our reptilian brain that tells our body to breathe, and our neocortex that allows us to read, write, and speak) in our brain that help us succeed in all areas of our life. As you can imagine, without a careful balance, we end up making some pretty bad choices in life.
As children, we often first experience what we eventually define as “love” from our parents. This comes in the form of both how they treat us, how they treat others, and how they treat themselves. They, in essence, mold into our brains and hearts what it looks like and feels like to be “loved” and we carry this message of love with us in our brains and hearts for the rest of our lives. If the message we carry is good, we may end up having positive experiences. If it isn’t, we end up having less than positive experiences.
Naturally, as we live our lives, those we “love” and are loved by tend to slowly edit in our brains how we define “love”. Perhaps someone comes along and shows us a much better version of love and we take that and run with it. There are cases when someone comes along and shows us a very painful version of love and we take that.  Naturally, who we choose to love becomes a very big decision. Who shall we open our hearts to? It is this person who will forever mold us and change us for the better or worse…
In their book, A General Theory of Love, Lewis, Amini, and Lannon state,

“In a relationship, one mind revises the other; one heart changes its partner. This astounding legacy of our combined status as mammals and neural beings is limbic revision: the power to remodel the emotional parts of the people we love, as our Attractors [coteries of ingrained information patterns] activate certain limbic pathways, and the brain’s inexorable memory mechanism reinforces them.
Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.”
Without balance, we will either overthink, not think at all, or overly rely on an emotionally unstable box of scattered and conflicting dramas to lead us to “the right person.” We can’t use just our intelligence in choosing a partner, yet we can’t just go with our feelings. It requires careful balance and a serious level of self-honesty, investigating our deepest selves: Who am I? What do I believe? Why do I believe that? What do I want, and WHY do I want that?

Sadly, most people will choose misery with a partner their limbic brain recognizes as familiar, over the less dramatic pleasure of a ‘nice’ relationship because the latter is unfamiliar.

I personally believe that neither is wrong nor right. In the end, it rteally depends on what is going to get you where you want to go. Where do you want to go in this one precious life?

For me, I’d rather pursue the latter. The healthy relationship, the loving, supportive relationship. What does this look like? I haven’t got a clue, but I do know what unhealthy feels like.

And if our limbic system is simply a collection of the familiar, then perhaps the real goal here is to simply disallow the unhealthy by walking away from it entirely, and surrounding myself with healthy relationships. Through this, slowly, the unhealthy images are replaced via prolonged contact with a caring, wise, responsive people.  Over time, we develop new neural connections in our brain, not just changing the limbic system, but our neocortex as well.

So what does a “healthy” relationship look like? It looks like love. It feels like love. But what is “real” love when we haven’t experienced it before?
When we are truly loved we feel good about ourselves.  When the presence of someone awakens the feeling of being happy with WHO YOU ARE, leading you to be happy with who you are becoming, is probably the direction you’d want to go.

How do you feel in the presence of your loved one? This will determine the degree to which you flourish.

In the words of Dr. Seuss, “You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

You are SO VERY worthy of love

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Recently someone told me, “how could anyone love you now?” He was referencing the fact that I have two kids and have divorced twice. 

Those words sat with me for a few weeks. Maybe he’s right. Who could possibly love someone like me? 

For weeks I deeply and genuinely considered accepting that fact. For weeks I was ready to accept that I was not put on this earth to be truly loved by a man. I figured maybe my life purpose was to do great things alone, and that was completely fine. After all, I love myself! I really love who I am, where I am in life, and what I’ve accomplished. So what if no man could ever love me. Yeah, the thought made me feel a little lonely, but nevertheless I’d be fine. After all I’ve gone through, maybe I was being selfish or stupid to think life would be a little bit better, and definitely a lot more fun with a life partner…  Maybe that’s the price I have to pay for all of my mistakes. I can accept that. Life is still pretty awesome.

And then it finally hit me: What he told me is not true. Maybe what he told me was actually something he was feeling about himself.

The Truth

The truth is there is a little (and sometimes BIG) part of EVERYONE that feels unlovable or unworthy. 

You giving your body and heart to someone who is incapable of love doesn’t make you unlovable. You mistakenly trusting people who have bad (or ZERO) good intentions toward you does NOT make you unlovable. 

Does it make you naive? Perhaps.

Does it mean you suck at picking potential partners? Possibly, but that can be fixed.

Does it mean you made a few mistakes? Yeah, it does.

But it does NOT make you unlovable, and it definitely does NOT make you unworthy. And THAT’S where the difference lies. 

Truly loving another person is hard, and the reason is because love takes tremendous courage. Love requires an open heart and mind, faith, patience, and a commitment to go back again and again to acting in a loving way, BEING LOVING, even when we don’t want to or feel like it. Even when shit gets a little scare and we aren’t sure. It means forgiving when we feel we’ve been wronged. It means fully owning and being accountable for our part of the problem. REAL LOVE is so, so very hard to actually do. 

And the truth is that sometimes it takes quite a bit of having your heart broken, crushed into tiny pieces even, to fully grasp the awesomeness of this REAL LOVE, to genuinely appreciate what it means to LOVE and BE LOVED. The truth is that not a lot of people are ready or willing to experience REAL LOVE, at least not yet. 

But you do. You get it. 

And that’s why you continue to love. 

So if you are reading this and have ever felt the way I did, please don’t believe it any longer. Don’t let those thoughts seep any further under your skin. Don’t let them anywhere near your heart, because it isn’t true. You are lovable. You are worthy. You are SO VERY worthy of love, because THAT IS WHO YOU ARE

Where does the power to do what is right come from?

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What is it that drives us to make a choice to follow one path or another? To commit to one thing but not another? We certainly don’t know what we are actually signing up for when we make that choice. Emotions change. Life changes. People change. Perhaps what we are going off of is an innate desire to find or feel purpose in our life.

We are born with some deep ingrained intention (which could be also seen as a “purpose”; i.e., “why am I here?”), which is likely developed by either what is fed to us as children, something we create on our own, or a mixture of the two. In most cases we don’t fully understand this “purpose” or “intention” until we’re older (some never understanding or even contemplating it).

Nevertheless our actions are guided by these, whether they be conscious or subconscious. But somehow, in our darkest moments, our intentions/innate and individually defined purpose(s) sneaks back into our mind and reminds us who we are, and to hold strong and move forward, or else we will be violating our ‘agreement’ to our purpose in life. It serves as a motivation in life and an internal compass when we’ve lost our way. Some people refer to it as our “internal GPS”.

And that’s where struggle and suffering comes in. That’s where maturity comes in. Until we see life as it really is (shit doesn’t always work out in our favor, things don’t go according to plan, and sometimes we gotta jump ship and give up), BOTH the great and the devastatingly disappointing pieces of life must be accepted, or we won’t be able to fully mature. And when things go south, there’s that miraculous reappearance of our “internal GPS”. As humans we are constantly going off course from our “path”. Did you know planes are off course 90% of the time?! They just keep correcting according to the GPS. And so do humans. We just don’t realize we have this internal GPS that’s guiding us.  Those who are more aware and in tune with their internal GPS tend to self-correct frequently and very quickly. Those who are not as aware tend to take a bit more time (and unfortunately some end up crashing, having to put themselves back together and trying over again).

Getting in touch with our internal GPS is risky, scary, and quite challenging. It means sacrificing temporary moments of pleasure or pleasantness for a longer, and much more delayed gratification. And in that time of sacrifice, we know nothing. Will it work out? Will we fail? Will our partner cheat on us, or lie to us, or die on us? Is this a good investment? Will I lose my job? Will I get cancer? We never know. One thing we have to remember is that our purpose is never fulfilled. Goals can be fulfilled, but our purpose isn’t. Because that is our lifeline. If I were to tell you my intention is “to be the best version of myself” in all times, I could also tell you that I fail majority of the time, and that I can’t say “I did it!” 6 months down the road, or even 20 years down the road. It’s a constant battle that guides me, my choices, and how I life my life daily.

Why bother!?
That’s where faith comes in. Following our internal GPS requires devotion; not to a person or thing, or even an idea, but to something bigger than ourselves. A faith that when we continue to follow our path, we will find what we are looking for. And this is the beauty of life. Balancing our reality of being human with our hopes, dreams, and desire to fulfill our “purpose” while we are alive here on Earth. We balance it all, taking care of ourselves along the way. Balance…

Letting Go

letting go

It is extremely challenging to remember in times of strife to “let go”. It’s difficult because oftentimes we don’t catch ourselves in the moment trying to control things. Leaving our lives and will to an unknown (some call it a higher purpose or “god”) can feel like throwing away or abandoning all our hopes and dreams. But by practicing the art of letting go, we later learn that rather than destroying our identity or what we believe is important to us, letting go is more like simply letting go of our attachment to the outcomes. We still have dreams. We still ambitions. We still have desires. And we should.

But after a while, we come to understand that the process of “letting go” isn’t something we just “do.” It’s something we experience and apply daily in all aspects of our life. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. It can’t be rushed, pushed, or forced. But it can, for certain, begin, after we take that first step. And then the second. And then the third. And keep walking forward. Step by step. Day by day. We move forward courageously as we are not used to letting go of our perceived control over life.

It meant trusting. Just like knowing the feeling of warmth by experiencing cold, we must learn trust by experiencing deceit. Sometimes life’s greatest blessings are life’s toughest lessons and without them we would not be where we are, who we are, or have what we have.

“Letting go” to me, meant trusting that life isn’t happening to me, but for me, and that it’s ok to let go of the desire to only feel “warm”, and just allow it to be cold sometimes.

We come to trust and believe in something bigger than ourselves and that whatever that is, it knows exactly what we need in order to get to where we need to be, and we acknowledge and accept that even though sometimes we think we know better, the fact is that we don’t. We make mistakes. We are all human.

We come to understand that our strongest moments are not when we are fighting against that which simply is, but when we learn to find peace in the midst of it all. Looking back, we see courage and resiliency.

When we are able to find peace in the moment, it gives us clarity into the situation, the people we are dealing with, and who we are and how we want to respond. It gives us strength to hold off on impulsive reactions that we may later regret, and guides us into making decisions we know we can live with. Sometimes “to let go” is something big like entirely letting go of the situation or relationship, and sometimes it is simply putting ourselves in a “time out” while we calm down and open ourselves up to a higher power or “divine guidance” or “intuition” or whatever you want to call it.

When we are able to calm our mind, body, and spirit, it helps us “see” what is going on without any of our default filters (e.g., anger, sadness, insecurity, etc.). By letting go of our need to control things and people, we find something we never expected: that we are in good hands- always have been and always will be. We are surrounded by supporting, loving people. We have the tools and resources we need to get through this.

We reconnect with ourselves and our heart. We come to understand that our heart, like any muscle, can only get stronger through exercise. It is normal to find ourselves tired of exercising our minds, hearts, and bodies, because it requires quite a bit of effort, consciousness/mindfulness, and a little bit of being uncomfortable. It’s ok to rest sometimes. But exercise, we know, is the only way to get the results we want (a better body, a better mind, or a better heart). So we bravely continue exercising our heart, which can sometimes feel like tension. We know tension all the time is not good, but no tension at all is also bad for us. In order to have strong hearts and minds and bodies, a good balance is all we need. When we start to understand that (and don’t let ourselves fall into one extreme or another) in a sense we are beginning the process of “letting go.”

When we let go, we find a sense of calmness, which in turn makes us better prepared to make decisions that will positively help us through sticky spots, rather than “shoot from the hip”. When we make well-informed and aware decisions, disappointments affect our inner peace much less. But when we get ourselves to this place of calm, we begin to truly feel like the captain of our own ship again.

Holding Space for Love

space for love

There is nothing more easy than to lean in to our partner during our moments of joy and bask in the glorious feelings of LOVE. But in a moment of conflict, we are left feeling distant, disconnected, disappointed, and often bitter. To be able to lean into those moments is a skill that takes practice, but the result is a strengthening of our own personal resiliency, the resiliency of our relationship, and an increase in our understanding of real LOVE, and an increase in our capacity to love deeper.

To run away from that precious moment is to run away from an opportunity to exercise our heart muscles and learn how to love better.

What if in those moments, with all the strength and courage we can manage to muster, we lean in and BE loving instead of pull back? What does LOVE look and feel like in those moments?

In those moments, treat the conflict as an opportunity to open space in our heart to really hold our loved one in all their entirety, allowing them to be with us in all of their flaws, mistakes, and disappointing behavior. Rather than punish them for disappointing us, and rather than try to “fix” them, or change them, or prove our point, or make them wrong and us right, what if we just opened our heart up a little more and allowed our Love to simply be who they are in that moment?

To be vulnerable in front of our Love in that moment, we fear we will be hurt. We put our guard up and get on the defensive. We justify our behavior or belief and make them wrong and ourselves right. We demand they see things our way. Yet ironically our loved one is deeply desiring, “if only my partner could see things my way…”

What if instead of armoring up to defend ourselves, our opinions, or our desired outcome, we spent all that energy remembering the Love we have for this person? In that moment of remembering Love, our hearts and minds open, and often open just enough to allow our Loved one to also feel safe enough to put their shield down as well. That is when the magic happens.

What we often mistakenly believe in those moments (and what crushes our opportunity to lean in to Love) is that just because we open our hearts and mind and lean in toward our loved one, doesn’t mean we can’t still acknowledge our own pain and disappointment in our loved one’s behavior. We blindly think that if we let our partner be right, then it will mean we are wrong or that our pain is not real or justified. We can still be justified and feel the very real pain we are feeling, and STILL respond in a loving way that brings us together rather than pull us apart.

We want to trust that our loves will not disappoint us, but the fact is we can only trust that our partners will always show up exactly as who they are: both wonderful and flawed. This is the nature and beauty of having someone share their life with us. We too bring both our wonderful and flawed selves to the relationship.

If you are so blessed to have someone choose to share their life with you, cherish it.