I’ve always been a goal oriented person.
I learnt how to decide what to focus on, and then focus on it so pointedly, blocking out all distractions until the goal had been achieved.
Only to move onto the next goal.
You can read a ton of articles about how positive thinking helps you become more productive, and it’s true — focusing on what you can change and ignoring what you can’t is a great way to make progress without distraction.
It’s why religion works — you just focus on what you can do and ascribe the rest to the hands of someone who has more control than you do, believing fully that this great power has your best interests at heart.
It’s a bit like being a child. A child knows its parents will feed it and take care of it and so it is relatively free to play and discover itself and the world.
But — no one talks about what happens to all the stuff you go on ignoring when you just focus on being positive and productive.
No one talks about all the stuff on the back burner that keeps caking into a cancerous mass. Eventually, you can’t ignore that nasty burning smell anymore and you’re going to have to address it.
But the longer you wait, the more unidentifiable the mass becomes. It becomes fused into one huge lump of problems that you avoided dealing with, that you didn’t address when they happened and now they are just fused into a huge ball of yuck that will kill you if you swallow it whole.
Taking it apart and attempting forensics on it is a long and arduous process with a gamble about what you’ll really find and solve and how it will affect your life.
If you don’t address all that stuff that you’ve been told to ignore, you will self destruct.
If you ignore it hard enough, it might actually become a cancerous growth in your body, and if you ignore it just a little bit, it might become a neurosis that follows you into everything you do.
But you don’t know what you don’t know, and I didn’t know what I’ve been avoiding for so long. I’ve been avoiding feeling sad, lonely, angry, rejected, inadequate, just about anything unpleasant. It’s not that I don’t feel these things from time to time — it’s that I pretend they aren’t there for so long that eventually they become so demanding in their need to be heard that they wash me out completely. Even then, I beat myself up repeatedly, constantly, trying to avoid feeling these things, but it’s like fighting water — no matter how hard you punch, shoot or cut, you will never win.
You just have to give in and let it surround you, let it drown you, let it carry you away.
You just have to remember that everything is temporary, and so even when you think you’re drowning, soon it will be over. And the same way, when you’re flying, soon it will be over.
You don’t need to fight nor flight. You just need to surrender, trust, remember that everything passes, so it’s okay to feel all the shitty painful suffocating parts too.
When you accept everything is temporary, you don’t need to run away from anything. You can let them play out their course.
Will they slow you down? Yes, they probably will. But why are we so obsessed with speeding up in the first place? Why don’t we live in pace with our bodies, why do we allow our desires for speed leave us running all the time?
Allow yourself to feel the sadness, the grief, the loneliness, the fear. And don’t fight it. Don’t ask it to go away. Allow it. Have faith that it plays a role in the distance you’ll travel. The depth of exploration is where the human experience comes alive.
Imagine eating the skin of a peach and never biting down into its juicy centre. Imagine only reading the first five pages of every book. Imagine knowing what your life partner looks like but not knowing who they are inside.
Our goals tend to be about distance, not depth. About speed, not experience. About growth, not grounding.
I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. I was like the fast and the furious all of my young adult life. I did everything I wanted to until I wanted to grow something lasting.
But before I can go deep, I have to clear the backlog of all that I avoided dealing with before. I have to play catch up. I can’t go forward until I do.
So here’s my new goal: to learn to be fully present in every moment, to feel everything good and bad, to not run away from it or ignore it or avoid it, to trust its timing and to humbly accept its presence in my life.
Have an experience that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this, please like or share it so others can enjoy it too. Thank you!