“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~Eckhart Tolle
Have you ever exacerbated difficult feelings by responding to them with resistance?
Although I made peace with my recent burglary shortly after it happened, I started feeling down and anxious at the end of last week. In retrospect, I think there was a connection between that and the painkillers my doctor prescribed when my surgical site started hurting again.
But I suspect I was also feeling the residual effects of everything that’s happened over these past two months. At the time, I didn’t fully understand my feelings. I just knew I wanted them to pass, especially since I was due to get my boyfriend at the airport.
I felt guilty for greeting him under a dark cloud of sadness, frustrated for not feeling as upbeat as I had earlier in the week, and confused because none of it made sense to me.
There were tears, and self-analysis, and self-judgment, until Saturday morning.
I planned to work at a coffee shop I love to create a more positive state of mind. But when I got there, I couldn’t find a parking spot—despite driving around for 20 minutes.
After that, I drove to the activity center in my apartment community where I knew I’d see some friendly faces, only to find my computer wouldn’t connect to the internet. While I repeatedly tried different approaches to fix the issue, I found myself feeling frustrated.
I screamed internally, “Come on! I just want to get online!”
Then I stopped, took a deep breath, and asked myself, “Is it possible I’m not getting what I want, but I’m getting what I need?”
I’d been trying to analyze, overpower, and outrun my feelings when what I really needed to do was stop—stop trying to understand and fix them, and instead accept and surrender to them.
That might sound like a defeatist choice, since surrendering implies giving it. But I’ve found it’s a lot like those Chinese finger traps: you can’t get out by fighting. The only way to get un-stuck is to relax and release.
It generally works the same with feelings. When we fight them, we give them more power.
It might not always seem like it in the moment, when we’re wading in something uncomfortable and potentially overwhelming, but no feeling lasts forever. Everything fades if we’re willing to let it.
By mid-day Saturday, I felt a lot better. I suspect it was because I stopped feeding into the story of my sadness and instead chose to lean into it.
As ironic as it may seem, sometimes the best way to let go of something difficult is to first choose to embrace it.
Photo by ototadana