Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better. –Steve Maraboli
You want something that doesn’t want you. You hold tightly to it to ensure it doesn’t get away, but instead you find yourself falling behind and frustrated, empty handed and sometimes broken hearted. As opportunities, jobs, and love escape us, in the process of letting go we often get stuck.
Many people told me that my broken foot was a sign I needed to slow down. After 3 months of solitude, I found that was not the case. I don’t know all the reasons why it had to happen, and I may never know. But I discovered some of the places where I was holding on that I needed to release.
Pleasing people. Yes, I am a people pleaser. My Strength Finder test showed I was a “Woo” person. I love to make people happy and as needed I can smooze and caress egos like there’s no tomorrow. I can also compromise my desires and needs in order to put others in front of myself, for the ultimate purpose of being liked and desired. Social media is extremely helpful in exacerbating this problem. I learned how to grow my Instagram account using a variety of hashtags, gaining followers rather than friends and growing a “brand” that I haven’t even clearly defined to the public. I realized I had been marketing myself and adapting pieces of my identity to promote the best version of myself.
Self-judgement. Being alone with yourself for extended periods of time is even more difficult when you don’t really like hanging out with yourself. Thankfully last year my time traveling taught me some of the joys of solitude and being alone. It’s more fun to be alone on a bus, winding along a dirt road throught the mountains overlooking the Chicamocha Canyon. But sometimes you don’t get that luxury. Sometimes there is a lot of crying and self-pity. It’s pretty unattractive; hence why I hibernated for a while. But when the gross parts of yourself surface and all that’s there is you, you can self-medicate or you can give yourself the medicine you actually need by getting to know your shit. Some of it is old and smelly and you’ve got to take the time to recognize why it’s still lingering before you can let it go.
Unforgiveness. The places where I still feel shame are the ones that hold on the tightest. I feel shame wrapped around circumstances where others caused me harm because of the guilt of allowing the events to happen. That’s a big one. When you forgive, you are able to look at the past with compassion and love, understanding that your suffering and the suffering of others created the whole situation. You can show empathy, even for yourself and even for the worst wrongs. Forgiveness is freedom and it’s also a concious decision to move forward and embrace the present. Every time the past dragged me backwards, I took the time to grieve, release and forgive. It’s a process and your ability to forgive may change day to day, but as Jack Kornfield says, “To the extent that I am able to forgive…” In the same way that we can healthily give from what we have, we forgive within our capacity today. Forgiveness is like mindfulness, and if we can practice it daily, we are offering kindness and love to ourselves and the world around us. That’s a kind of a big deal.
These are just some of the lovely topics that came up for me in my solitude. And when I finally emerged, two-footed and prancing, I discovered that the place I felt the most at home, at peace and safe, was with myself. Showing kindness to myself during this time meant acknowledging my value, even though I couldn’t give back in a way that proved my worth. Proving my worth in the past meant making lots of money, volunteering, making others feel good and operating on full speed to perfection. Nourishing myself through reading good books like Women Who Run With The Wolves and learning how to practice and teach restorative yoga… learning about the body and addressing my issues so that I can let them go. I couldn’t move forward, but when I prayed I had the sense that there was nothing to move toward. It wasn’t ready for me yet. Or maybe I wasn’t ready for it.