Challenges: lifting us up or dragging us down?

Today I have so many thoughts in my head, that I would not know where to begin writing or, once I have started, when to stop writing. I am thinking about the concepts of freedom and safety and what they mean to me. I have been thinking about friendships, what I need in a friendship and  what I miss in my friendships. I have been thinking about past hurts, about the mistakes I and others made and about how we now have to live with the consequences. I have been thinking about guilt and about how that (and shame) are two quasi-emotions that I feel a lot of the time. I have been thinking about my life before my parents separated, about our house then, our family then and the amazing dog who at that point was also part of the family. I have been thinking about anxiety, how to cause fear to leave my body, how to be able to relax.

And this multitude of thoughts is only half or maybe a third of all the different trains of thoughts I had today. See why I sometimes feel like I am going crazy a bit? I guess this happens to the best of us some days. Maybe we should call them chaos-days. Days where everything seems to rush at you; all sorts of emotions, all sorts of memories and all sorts of imaginable near futures. And on this chaos-day, in the midst of all these thoughts and this tsunami of emotions, I try to find my balance, to keep my head above the water. Today I heard Liz Gilbert (there she is yet again!) say in one of her podcasts that she has a friend who can spend an entire day swimming out at sea, without any land nearby. Her friend managed this after he started thinking of the water as holding him, supporting him instead of the water trying to drag him down and defeat him. Since he made the shift to really feeling held by the water, he can spend entire days swimming out at sea.

So maybe, just maybe that is what we can do with our monkey-minds too. Everybody has challenges in their life, challenges that we need to face and overcome. Or better said we often want to overcome. For most of us I guess our own challenges seem the most daunting, because they influence our emotions directly. This emotional aspect can make it extremely scary to start dealing with our challenges. Or it makes us angry. Or it frustrates us endlessly. Believe me, I know and I keep struggling with it. However, maybe we can start viewing our challenges differently. Perhaps we can change our perspective. Maybe our challenges are not trying to drag us down. Maybe, they are trying to lift us up. To lift us out of the water so we can breathe. In order to start improving we need  an incentive. What better incentive than the challenges we face? It might seem that the challenges our trying to pull us down and drown us, but it is that exact feeling that allows us to do something, anything to prevent that from happening. Our challenges force us to find ways to overcome them and by doing so they allow us to change and improve ourselves.

This also makes me think of the song ‘The Great Escape’ by the wonderful Pink, where she is talking about how she will not let someone make the great escape. I always interpreted it as her saying that she would not let you sink to the bottom of the sea, where you cannot feel anymore, where you cannot scream anymore and where you try to hide from your troubles. Sometimes this seems tempting, just to hide from it all for a while. But it is also the place where nothing happens and like Pink sings, we need our passions and pains because they will keep us alive.

Can we view ourselves being held by the challenges we face, much like we can view ourselves as being held by the water at open sea? Or is that just wishful thinking and am I forcing some meaning on the things I struggle with? I do not know. Maybe there is no answer. In that case I guess no one will mind if I choose my own truth, my own reality and in that reality challenges are given us to help us swim and give us direction in the wide, open sea of life.

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