This morning I watched someone get very upset about something that, as far as I could see, wasn’t happening at all. I observed his – in my eyes – unnecessary distress and thought it really looks odd to see someone reacting so strongly to a stimulus that was clearly inside him rather than outside. I mean I felt everything was fine but he was fighting hard against something.
Then I thought, “Oh. Is that what it looks like when I do that?”
It gave me some perspective on how silly most of our troubles are, how much we create them – mostly by resisting things.
You know that expression, “What you resist persists”? Well I find that to be enormously true. Carl Jung says it thus, “You can only let something go if you first accept it.”
Take a moment if you need to wrap your mind around that.
To let something go you have to let it be there? Isn’t that an odd thing? Basically it means if you want it to go away you need to stop fighting it. As long as you fight it, you keep it there. How can it move on if you are busy with it?
Learning to release resistance is one of life’s keys to good and easy living – and if you want a good place to practice this important life skill, just sign up for parenting. Whew. How often each day do you have to adjust yourself to the way things are going when you had prepared for them to go another way?
There’s a Yiddish expression, “Man plans, God laughs.” In parenting the joke on us begins with conception – planned or unplanned it’s all a big gamble, no control there at all – and continues non-stop through pregnancy, birth, early parenting, adolescence… and on and on. No control whatsoever. Before having children I had some sort of illusion of control. I plan something and I do it pretty much the way I planned it. Then I had kids and now I make plans almost as a joke. I’ve learned to make an approximate plan. “Right, we’ll aim to go there, at about 9 or 9.30, depending on how the morning goes and we may or may not take the tadpole nets with us, we’ll see if his cold is better. We can try to stay for a couple of hours, depending on if they get bored or are having a good time. Then we can maybe get to meet Joe and them for lunch if the kids aren’t worn out or grumpy. Ok? Great! That’s our plan!”
And that plan actually reassures me!
It’s such a gift to get to practice this letting go thing. Thank you children. Still, learning to release resistance and shift to the flexible planning technique takes a few years – and possibly a number of children – before it feels comfortable enough to not be in a constant state of panic. Remember saying this, “I WILL still be someone who comes on time. I WILL still have whole conversations with my friends. I WILL still go out in the evenings… “? New parents walk around with panicked, exhausted expressions on their faces as they watch their plans sprint off around the corner without them, again. It ain’t easy.
When things aren’t going the way we think they should, we fight it. We fight it hard. This is obviously not only true for parenting. Basically we resist and resist and resist because whatever is going on doesn’t fit in with our picture of how it should be.
It only makes things worse though doesn’t it? Resistance is futile (for you Trekkies out there). Anyone who has tried to unswervingly stick to their plans regardless of life’s curveballs knows how stressful and pointless it is. But have no fear, help is at hand. When we enforce our way instead of letting go and seeing where the flow is, our master teachers assist us in realising the futility of our approach with their excellent methods; they start to be unhappy, whine, act out, hit their siblings… Resist that!! Let’s see you!
But when we release our resistance… ah well, then magic begins to happen, things begin to flow, hearts begin to lighten and life with the kids even starts to become fun.
So try it out. When you are feeling stressed or upset in any way say things like “I release the resistance, I let go my resistance. I let it go. It doesn’t have to go a certain way, let me flow with what works for now…” Say it as many times as you need to in order to relax your grip on how you think it should be. Stop being the bad cop with yourself and start to let yourself find the fun in the way that it is.
Relaaaax… let it gooooo…….