‘What if I told you it was all going to work out. Would you believe me?’
I asked a friend this question today and he said, ‘Um yes, I guess I would. But what about…?’
And that’s where the problem lies doesn’t it. Someone in the know can tell you that something is going to work out and you’ll still want to know, how? How can it work out? How will I get there?
Often we’ll feel in our gut that’s it’s going to be okay. Lord knows my intuition has given me some very clear indications that things are going to work out just fine. My guides have shown me the things I most desire will come to pass. I’ve even had psychic friends say, ‘Lucy, yes, it’s going to work out. You don’t need to worry about that, just keep moving forward.’
But even with all those signs and confirmations from within myself and from others, do I trust that it’s going to work out?
Um no. Because I want to know the how. As a result, I don’t give myself a lot of peace. In fact, I get very little peace at all.
I think most of us have been brought up to ask the ‘how’. We want to know what the process will be to reach our destination. It’s part of the Western way. The idea of trusting that we’re taken care of and we should just focus on the now is foreign to many of us. And that’s because we’ve been taught to rely so much on our reasoning and our minds, not our intuition or inner guidance.
Does this help us to find inner peace? I’d have to say from my experience, definitely not. My need to know the ‘how’ often plays a wonderful role in tying me up in knots. It obstructs my progress and blocks me into a corner where I kick my heels in frustration because a large part of me wants a plan. I want to know ‘how’.
Yet, when I just trust that it’s going to be okay, things work and feel very differently. For example, when I simply ask myself in any given moment, ‘What is the next thing I need to do to draw X, Y or Z towards me?’ The answer always comes (if I quiet my mind long enough to hear it). I don’t have to force anything.
And once I stop trying to control the outcome or timing of something, my inner peace returns too. Once I let go of the ‘how’ I feel more balanced and I know that I’m moving in the right direction.
Learning to let go of the ‘how’ is one of my greatest lessons and I’m still learning it. But when I stop trying to see how I’ll reach my destination, the Universe steps up to help me get there. The timing may not be what I’d like and the path may twist and turn more than I ‘think’ is necessary or helpful, but it will always take me where I need to go.
Not long after I moved into my first house as a newly-single person, I bought a metal sculpture of a naked woman, reclining backwards, holding a candle aloft.
These days the sculpture has migrated from my lounge-room to the deck and, although it looks a little worse for wear, it still attracts interest from my visitors.
Often they are intrigued. ‘Why do you like that?’ they ask. ‘What’s that about?’
My answer is always the same, ‘She symbolises how I wish to live my life. Naked, open to the world and lighting my own way.’
Now don’t misunderstand me. You won’t see me strolling through my local streets without clothes on anytime soon. It’s more of a metaphor.
The nakedness and openness speak to my desire to live openly, without barriers and from the heart. I wish to live as I truly am, not as others or society expects me to be.
I wish to light my own way by knowing I always have the strength and light within me to keep moving forward because I trust my own judgement and intuition. It’s not about turning away from the assistance of others. Instead it’s about knowing that my light comes from within me and I can re-light my own candle whenever I choose. I do not have to wait for someone else to light it for me.
When life gets difficult, as it does for all of us, it can be easy to put up barriers between ourselves and others, close down our hearts and let our light go out. It can be easy to lose faith that we have the strength and inner guidance to find our way forward, to take the next step, to just keep going.
But in those moments I will glimpse the naked lady and I’m reminded of my capacity to find my way. Like me, she has some age spots (in her case, rust) showing up here and there, and she has weathered a few storms. She has matured a little more and, in my more fanciful moments, I imagine she has, like me, relaxed into her own (metal) skin over the years.
Yet in spite of all the bumps, rust, storms and challenges of living exposed to the elements, she is still there naked, open to the world and lighting her own way. She is still there inspiring me to do the same
Over the past ten years I’ve noticed a trend that doesn’t seem to be diminishing and it’s played on my mind. I’ve tried to twist my perspective this way and that and I still haven’t come up with a definitive answer.
So today I thought I’d write about it and see if you had thoughts to share on the matter.
As a divorced woman in my 40s I’ve watched the relationships of numerous friends and acquaintances break-up. And it’s what has happened next that has me most perplexed.
Invariably the men move on to other relationships quickly while the women generally spend more time in recovery before even dipping their toe in the water again. Most men seem to barely draw breath before launching into something new. They can be emerging from a 10-year relationship or an intense affair and just a few weeks later they’re out there again, ready to repeat the experience. And they do. Within a very short space of time (often weeks or months) they’ll be ensconced in another relationship.
Most women on the other hand seem to take time for more self-reflection. They allow themselves the space to heal and are, often, not the least bit interested in trying on someone new until they’ve sorted through the mess of the old.
When I see this happening time and time again, I find it a little disconcerting.
Is it that men simply don’t need to process what went wrong? Do they truly have the capacity to just compartmentalise their past, stick it in a box and get on with it? Or are women just more inclined to navel-gaze and mull things over for extended periods of time?
As a woman, I can’t claim to know what goes on inside a man’s head when it comes to these things. However I can’t help but think it’s not a healthy pattern to simply go from one relationship into the next without giving yourself the space to think about what went wrong. I also wonder why many men appear to find this type of self-contemplation so hard to do.
Is it that men can’t be alone? Or are they conditioned through our culture and societal expectations that they must have a partner to be considered successful? And so their first thought is they must find someone new and simply forget what came before – they just have to ‘get on with it’ because there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea’.
Now, I’m not advocating that humans are meant to live without companionship. As a wise man once told me, ‘No one really wants to be alone and if they say otherwise they are lying.’ Relationships with other human beings with the accompaniments of companionship, acceptance and physical touch are a vital part of our existence. And like all human beings, I desire that for myself too.
But surely there is more room for the self-awareness that comes from being alone, outside a relationship. And why do most women seem more willing to have that experience and to grant themselves the space to do so?
Are women more adaptable? Can they more easily fill their own inner well? Have many men not been taught how to do this and instead look to have it filled by women?
One of my male friends would tell me it’s all about the male ‘lizard brain’ that is purely motivated by sex and not much else. But I know many women who also value sex highly as a vital way to connect with their partners, so it can’t all be about that.
Like I said at the start of this post, I don’t have an answer to all this. But I do question the behaviour when I see it time and time again. I also know that those emotions that have been shoveled under the carpet will eventually re-surface in a not-so-healthy way in a later relationship and the new partner will have to deal with the male’s unresolved issues from the past.
And, as a woman who’s been on the receiving end of that experience, I have to tell you it’s no fun.
When I was in my 20s I loathed self-help books. I thought they were a waste of time and, I’m ashamed to say, I would disparage them frequently. I couldn’t understand what possible good they could do. To me they were a sign of weakness and shouldn’t people be able bot get it together on their own?
So imagine my chagrin when someone said my blogs had a great self-help quality to them.
Oh the irony.
I’m in my 40s now and can shake my head at my youthful ignorance about self-help. Honestly, in my 20s I could definitely have used a lot of help. But I was too scared to open that box. I wanted to be strong not weak.
I was a young and very opinionated woman who frequently struggled with anxiety and a poor sense of self. And for some reason, although I sought the advice of psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical professionals, I never once picked up a book where someone like me had written about their own experiences.
A book or two like that would’ve helped me a lot.
Another person recently asked why I thought I was qualified to help and advise people. It was an odd question and delivered in a way that was designed to challenge me a little.
I reflected for a moment and said, ‘It’s not about advising people. For me it’s about sharing my experiences and ideas, and if they can help someone else feel better about their life or see another way forward, then I’ve done what I needed to do.’
While I believe there is lots of good advice and wonderfully ‘formally qualified’ people out there doing great work, some of the best help I’ve received has come from listening to and reading about the struggles of others. I can relate to them and glean insights born of their experiences. And through those stories I find a better way to negotiate the struggles in my own life
I’m not interested in telling people what to do. After all, who wants to listen to someone pointing the finger and saying, ‘This is the right way to live and you must do this!’ (not me!)
I’d much rather learn from the experiences of others and perhaps, through sharing my own, others will also gain something useful.
But the telling of stories to help others isn’t just about writers like me. It’s also about every single person we meet. Every one of us has challenges that sometimes leave us feeling alone. Too often we keep our pain and struggles hidden within us. We are ashamed or scared that others will laugh at or dismiss our experiences. But what if, through the very act of sharing our story, we could heal ourselves and heal the other person too.
Every time I write about something that has caused me pain, the very act of sharing it helps me to move forward. And I believe it also helps others at the same time.
So maybe, just maybe, we could try to share our stories more often. And in doing so, we could help us all find an easier way to live
I saw a great movie this morning that reminded me of the things that make life worth living. It was called, ‘This is where I leave you’ and was about a family (with the usual share of dysfunctions) who came together to mourn the loss of their father.
Dysfunctionality aside, it was about the choices we make in life and whether they lead to happiness or not; the trade-offs we make because we have this idea of what we think life should be like…but never quite is.
So often we plan ahead with this picture in our minds of how life should turn out, but it rarely ever ends that way. Sometimes we get disappointed about that. We think it should look like the picture and feel short-changed and frustrated if it doesn’t.
But what if that picture you have in your head is completely wrong? What if your life is meant to be so much more complicated, complex and truly wonderful than you could ever imagine?
It is the unexpected in my life that has led me to the most wonderful places – an unexpectedly and forced decision to leave a job opens the door to a new world of opportunity; a chance meeting that leads to a strong friendship; a book or an unplanned conversation that shows me a completely different way to live or think.
The unexpected is what creation is made of. And the illusion we give ourselves that our lives will proceed according to some plan we’ve made up is just that, an illusion built on expectations that are often not in our best interests anyway.
So be open to the unexpected. After all, as one character said in the movie today, ‘Anything can happen. Anything can happen all the time.’ So plan for the ‘anything’. Welcome it with open arms. Sometimes it may jolt your world, make you uncomfortable and yes, it may be painful. But the unexpected has magic in it too and we all need more of that.