Like most of us, I struggle with taking too much on, over committing, moving too fast, doing too much and working too hard.
Shortly after my family made a cross-country move, this pattern took its toll.
I had a total meltdown.
In the middle of the night I woke up with intense stomach cramps. The next morning, things got worse: it was hard to catch my breath and I thought I might pass out. I called my husband from the bathroom floor and told him he needed to come home immediately. I needed help.
I was scared and worried about my health. I was distraught about why this had happened in the first place. I knew I didn’t want to feel this way.
In the process of healing the lingering anxiety, I learned some things about listening to my own inner guidance and letting go of struggle that I’d like to share with you:
1) We have to give voice to our pain in order to heal.
“Truth cleanses the wound. It is only by giving voice to our tender pain, that we find our way back to beauty.”
I adore this quote by Mark Nepo. It was uncomfortable and even embarrassing to face my fears and acknowledge my role in my own suffering. But until we illuminate and expose our fears, they will keep holding us hostage. Our fears must be addressed in order to break the pattern and allow the healing. Facing the truth cleanses the wound.
2) Guidance resides within us.
We all get lost from time to time. We get out of alignment. We feel disconnected, we get stressed out, overbooked, do too much and forget to tune in and listen to the wisdom of our own soul.
Honestly, it’s usually only after the crisis passes that we understand the importance of opening, seeking alignment and tuning inward. That is what a crisis is—an opportunity to reconnect and go inward so that we can realign. And when we do, we remember that we have our own compass which can guide us back to centre and support us in finding the path.
This wisdom speaks to us in many forms—our intuition, a quiet knowing, a calm voice that speaks with us, a feeling of love, a gut feeling. We just need to listen. In listening we open up to the real truth that we are part of a larger loving energy. Realizing this gave me confidence and motivation to tuning in.
3) Happiness is the path.
The Buddha said, “There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.”
After my meltdown, I wrote this quote on a post it and stuck it in my closet so I could read it each morning. I needed to remember that I was not going to end up at happiness after a long hard battle or journey. Happiness was going to be found with each step along the way.
We all get caught up chasing things, projects, people, or circumstances that we think will make us happy. “I’ll relax once I do [insert activity].” or “I will finally enjoy my life after I [insert accomplishment.]” It never works. There is no end. We never get it all done. There is always the next thing to go after.
The true work worth pursuing is making happiness and joy the path.
4) Surrender doesn’t mean giving up.
Life will inevitably present hard times, detours and more. Regardless of what is happening in our life, we get to choose how we react, how we feel and how we hold it all.
Realizing that I had a choice in the midst of surrendering and letting go was a powerful learning.
When we choose to surrender the need to control it all—it doesn’t mean we are passively waiting for life to happen to us as we sit by helplessly. We aren’t giving up. Instead we are showing up completely. We can open ourselves up to co-create with the universal forces. We can take inspired action. We are open to possibility. We choose how we write our story.
I am proud to be where I am and know that my own story of anxiety is not one of failure, but one of learning how to live more intentionally.
*This blog was originally published on Elephant Journal.