That which we run from – chases us.
Uncomfortable situations, tasks, conversations and emotions are often avoided. We either run away from them, or wish they will go away. If nothing else, we hope that they may magically resolve on their own, as with time – most things tend to sort themselves out. Right? Not necessarily true in all cases.
If we can find the courage to dive deeply into exactly that which we wish to avoid – we find that it soon loses its sting. We are amazingly adaptable beings and if we give our self the chance, our reactions can soon be moderated by facing the challenge squarely in the eye. But when ignored, threats to our comfort zone actually turn into limiting walls which prevent us from achieving our full potential.
A simple example is the amount of energy that gets trapped by guilt caused by procrastination. This blog post started as a consequence of noticing how much ease and freedom I am experiencing from having gotten around to preparing my tax returns. Despite being well qualified and adept in financial matters, that is still one of my least favourite tasks. As I now sit back in satisfaction, having faced what I had been avoiding (for weeks) – I am reminded of the many different contexts in which I have noticed this message. Here are some diverse examples:
- If you have ever gone swimming in cold waters, you will agree that it is far easier to plunge in, rather than testing the temperature with your toes.
- In an autobiography of a forensic doctor, he mentions how the best way to deal with the stench of dead bodies is not to cover your nose, but instead, to take a deep whiff of the odour! Apparently, the smell sense desensitizes after receiving this initial, powerful odour and he found he could then continue to work without distraction.
- A less dramatic and more graded treatment commonly used to treat phobias (in cognitive behavioural therapy) is systematic desensitization or exposure therapy. Herein, the person is gradually exposed to increasing levels of what he or she fears in a safe and controlled manner. A substantial proportion of persons respond to this line of treatment.
- NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) uses a process to release strong emotions or beliefs, in which the person is asked to assume the ‘Cook’s Hook-up’ position and is then given the command to “Feel it as strongly as you can, as clearly as you can, until you just can’t feel it anymore”. While having the person dive deeply into the feeling, this statement and position enable release.
- In an inspiring book “I’d rather laugh: How to be happy even when life has other plans”, Linda Richman suggests throwing yourself a “Pity Party”. She describes how she sat in Shiva (mourning) for twice the traditional period when her young son died. She did not feel she had gone through all her emotions. Linda’s idea of a “pity party” is to stay in bed, stay miserable, watch sad movies, cry and so forth – until you just can’t do it anymore. And after a point, you cannot. Once she had acknowledged and lived her grief fully, she could recover. But how many of us have that much faith in our own resilience? To accept and allow what we are feeling so thoroughly – that we can finally arrive at a subsequent peace?
- The Buddhist practice of Tonglen advises us to “Breath in Pain, Breathe out Joy”. Pema Chodron’s site explains this beautifully. My own experience and understanding of this practise has deepened over the years and I find Tonglen to be a wonderful way of dealing with any worry.
- Personally, I believe that one of the significant contributors to the efficacy of tools like EFT, TAT and dynamind is the fact that they allow the feelings and situation to be described as it is. You do not have to jump into any positive statements that you do not believe, but can fully express everything – just the way it is in the moment. This provides an immense freedom from feelings that have been denied or suppressed up to this point.
- The fundamental fear of death can be a significant influence on the choices we make. It is not uncommon for persons who have had to face this fear due to illness, accident or some form of Near Death Experience, to celebrate life far more fully than before.
To conclude, perhaps the most direct route to inner peace is found by braving our way through the storms, rather than trying to navigate around them.
After all, the rainbow comes after the rains.