The Sitting Space is a regular feature in which I share the real-life challenges I’m “sitting” with and the lessons I have learned along the way. I hope it will inspire, enlighten and encourage you.
Do you feel like the second place finisher at the hot dog eating contest?
You shovel it in. You gasp for air. You sweat to the finish. But somehow you never come out on top.
You don’t wanna be that second-place hot dog guy. You make yourself sick–and honestly, we’re all about to hurl with you as we watch.
Did you ever think you may be in the wrong game?
No matter how much you struggle, strive, and sacrifice, it’s never enough.
Fed up yet?
Sometimes you gotta plow head-on into a concrete wall.
I had a meltdown a week or so ago. I’m talking a snot-dripping, ugly-cryin’, oh-my-God, I need to be on meds breakdown.
I was a hot mess–not even lying. But sometimes you have to hit the concrete wall at the end of yourself in order to rise up.
I thought when I hit the bottom, I’d splat like a water balloon during a hot summer water fight. I thought I’d never find myself again. I thought I’d never be able to start over.
I was wrong.
I’m just a control freak. I realized that all my life, I have used fear to beat myself up and hold myself back. I used it like a bludgeon to play whack-a-mole with my confidence and sense of self-worth. You see, I realized that I can control failure. I can’t necessarily control success
What if my efforts are wildly successful? What if I create everything I desire in my life and more happiness than I can imagine? What if my light really is as bright as I wished it were?
If I undermine my confidence and second-guess my capability, if I set the bar too high and make plans that are unattainable, and if I constantly compare myself to others and distract myself from what I should be or could be doing for the world, I can ensure failure.
Even if I have to punish, belittle and demean myself, I am still in control.
But who is this nasty, fear-bound and ruthless ‘I’?
Who is this ‘I’ which I have imagined?
The ego-I is docile, predictable and controllable.
If I give him what he wants–self-importance, or better yet, self-pity through justification, judgment and rationalization–he gives me what I want, which is control. Or the illusion of it.
In reality, it’s nothing more than a padded cell. A cage against which to rage. But sometimes, we’re so caught up in the act of raging that we don’t recognize what’s really going on. We have to hit the bottom.
From the bottom, you have the opportunity to rise again with true power. You have a chance to recognize your strength–and that it doesn’t lie in what other people say or think about you (or even what you say or think about yourself).
So if I’m not in control, can I really trust Life?
Life unfolds as it is meant to.
If you wonder if life should have happened a certain way ask yourself, “well, did it?”
If the answer is yes, then that’s the way it should have been–because it is.
When all thoughts of what should have been
or what could have been
or what might have been are set aside,
all that remains is reality.
Reality is your truest, most honest companion, if you will accept her.
Life always entrusts his unfolding to her. There is nothing that happens without first flowing through her hands. Trust her.
How can I trust Life as it unfolds?
1. Recognize that the alternative is suffering
Anything other than trust of Life in the present moment leads to suffering. Every wish that life would be different than it is, every hope that life will be different tomorrow creates suffering because it is grounded in what you believe is lacking or incomplete.
2. Understand that Life has never let you down, really.
Look back over the years of your life. Whether you’re 29 or 89, Life has never let you down…really. “Oh, but I have disappointments,” you say.
Look carefully. Have your disappointments been with life or with the expectation that it should have been different?
If you find yourself surrounded by It should have been… or It shouldn’t have happened… you have met the disappointment of your thoughts about life.
Life has never failed you. He has always shown up on time–in every moment. He has been present and conscious, even when you have not been. He has always provided everything you needed in the present moment.
The proof that this is true is that you are here. You have survived. You are alive.
You have food. You have shelter. You have breath. Is there anything more that you need–really? In this present moment do you have breath? You can trust life.
But what about the ‘real world’?
What is the real world? Is it not just happening within your own mind? The thoughts to which you have become attached regarding family, career, society–are they not all residents of your own mind?
If they are all beliefs, you may examine them any time you wish. You may determine which serve you. You may also choose to let them go if they no longer serve you.
So remake your ‘real world’.
After I had my meltdown, I recognized that I was okay. I felt lighter. So I decided to play a game with Life. I decided to surrender to whatever Life brought to me in the moment I was in.
When I found myself thinking thoughts like, I need some money to buy a birthday gift, I examined it. It wasn’t true. I didn’t need the money in that moment. I only created worry for myself when I believed that thought.
When the time came to actually purchase the birthday gift, the money was there.
When I had the thought, I need a new job. I don’t know if my freelance work will hold out, I challenged it as well. You know what? It wasn’t true either.
In that moment, I didn’t need a job (because I didn’t have one).
When I surrendered to Life, I suddenly got a phone call from a job I’d applied for several days prior. I had put in my application even though I didn’t feel I was fully qualified for it. I applied as a kind of cosmic, spur-of-the-moment “what the hell?”
I don’t know yet if it is the job for me. But I do know this. If it is, I will have it. And if it is not for me, I’ll know that too because I won’t have it.
My job is to trust.
So do I just sit back and do nothing?
I always feared that if I didn’t attack life like a fat man trying to win a hot-dog eating contest, then I would die with regrets of what I hadn’t accomplished. I’m starting to see that it just might be the opposite.
What if you get to the end of your life, and you have all the hot-dog eating trophies you can handle but you realize you hate hot dogs?
What if you were in the wrong game all along? Now that’s regret!
There is another way. Instead, what if you arrived at the end of your life–whenever that is–having done everything that was set before you in each moment, and having accomplished all that Life brought to you?
What if you worked passionately, loved presently, and lived abundantly?
I would call that a life, well-lived!
(and you didn’t even have to eat one hot dog…unless you want to.)
That’s what’s in my “sitting space”. How about you? Can you relate? What in your sitting space?
Photo Credit: Hot Dogs