It was late Thursday night and I was on my way home from teaching three back-to-back yoga classes. I’d had an incredibly challenging week. It was one of those weeks where I believed “everything was going wrong.” Normally, just as I do on my mat, I try not to judge things as good or bad, because I find that when I judge, I suffer.
Accept it or change it
If I simply accept the situation or change it if I’m unhappy, I find peace with reality and save myself from tons of stress and pain. This trying week, however, was a different story. As a person who plans and takes steps toward a brighter future, I like to see things “going according to plan” and when they don’t, I struggle with the ability to go with the flow. I’m constantly caught between the place of acceptance and finding every reason to beat myself up, or somehow blaming myself for things out of my control “going wrong.”
I expect too much of others and myself. Because I’m a reliable person, I expect others to be reliable as well. Greeted with unreliable and seemingly frustrating people this week, I had a difficult time going with the flow of my reality, and every second, wanted something different than the outcome I was getting. I also began to take personally the behavior of others, questioning myself, and making their problems mine. “What is wrong with me?” or “What can I do differently?” “Why?” this or “Why?” that; I was totally obsessing about things completely out of my control.
As I looked back on the week, exhausted and ready to crash, I realized that if I simply softened my expectations, I would relieve this tremendous suffering I felt. Making my way down the road, I gently replayed my week “going wrong” and softened around the desire for each experience to be different. I fully released my plans and told myself that the universe probably knows what it is doing by now. I decided to have faith in something bigger and trust it would all work out. I found compassion for the past difficult days and for myself, allowing and accepting things exactly as they were.
We always get exactly what we need for growth
Though it may not make sense or be clear at the time, I’ve learned that we have experiences that we need most for our own personal growth. The universe is preparing lessons for us at every twist and turn. I know that whatever experience I’m having, it’s happening—whether I like it or not. So, the more I can soften and surrender the way I think it “should” be, and accept it as it is, the less suffering I feel.
Continuing to reflect on this, I began to think about the darkness that had been brewing inside all week. I reflected on the fact that I was exhausted and sick, once again spreading myself too thin. The last thing I needed was to put myself down and feel guilty or frustrated for the way other people behaved.
I ultimately softened around all the emotions and turmoil within, softened around all of the resistance, negativity and expectations I had for things to turn out differently. I embraced my reality just as it was and allowed the week to have unfolded exactly as it did, without judging it as a terrible week or believing that I hated it. I began to realize that in times I believed it was terrible, or that I was terrible, I was separated from source. I was so profoundly disconnected from the divine and got myself wrapped up in a spiral of negativity and self-loathing. I realized quickly that this would benefit no one and knew I needed to re-connect.
Just then, I found compassion for the sadness, the resistance; all that was in the here and now. I gave myself such space to feel everything and began to breathe a little deeper. With each breath, I grew more alive, more connected and more compassionate. I compassionately saw myself as a human being, trying to do my best with what I have in this mad, mad world. I compassionately saw myself connected to the universe, part of the whole; interconnected and instrumental.
In finding this compassion, I began to see each situation and person that disappointed me during the past week as part of that same whole, embracing myself and others as imperfect and as perfect as we all are. I began to see each person, including myself, as divine, as part of the interconnected web of life. I wanted to feel that intrinsic goodness, which we all have, within me and to connect, feel and see it in everyone around me. I started to breathe deeper and feel more relief.
The next moment, holding in my heart the divine and the goodness within others and myself, I came around the bend on the highway and saw a billboard before me that read, “Nothing Else Will Do.” I laughed out loud and smiled, as I felt my pain completely melt away. I took a deep breath and continued my journey home with a sense of freedom. I had surrendered my week to the past, let my judgments silence and found an opportunity for growth from my pain. I drove home with ease, a smile and a shift in perspective. Nothing else will do.