The Road To Change: The Guilt Bypass
The iron ball of expectation that I wrote about in my last post was holding me back more than I even realised. I needed to describe it like that, to give it shape so that I could start moving past it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when there seem to be an incredible amount of things that need to be done and health isn’t playing along. It’s easy to not do anything because we can’t do everything.
Easy in the present, however, doing nothing rarely creates an easy future.
I need to extend myself into that realm of difficult that lies just past comfortable on the road to change.
I have learned a lot of coping skills over the years I have spent living with chronic pain. However, I have not learned all the coping skills. Challenges still knock me about on a regular basis. Setbacks still get me down. Upset and Anger still creep into my life despite my understanding that they never really need to be there.
They never really are there, you see. They’re just perceptions, like everything else. The most wonderful human magic that I know of is the ability to completely change our mood, outlook and even limitations by changing our views about them.
The how is the difficult part.
You know how, sometimes, messages seem to arrive in just the right way, through just the right vessel, at just the right time that we need them? Almost as if they couldn’t have existed until we were ready to receive them?
When I first read The Joy Of Living by Yongey Mingur Rinpoche, I felt like that. I babbled about it a little during a YouTube video back in 2010. The style of writing, the content, the perspectives that I hadn’t considered (on just about everything) resonated in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. I came away from the first reading feeling like this smiley monk was the wisest person on the planet.
Several times, I re-read the book, in parts and as a whole. There were so many things to work on, approaches to remember, sparks of wisdom to chase. That little book contained more psychologically helpful information than any textbook that I’d ever read that had a Western perspective on the mind and body.
I purchased Joyful Wisdom, the follow up book, a couple of years ago. I even read it and thought it as clever, if not quite as inspirational as The Joy Of Living. I was quite wrong. The book doesn’t lack helpful insight, I just wasn’t ready for that level of psychological development back then.
Recently, I realised that I was not coping. I was feeling upset and angry and I needed to focus on calming my mind and body before life spiralled completely out of my grasp. Some of this was being influenced by the physical and emotional challenges of taking on Scenar treatments (which is like a whole lot of new stuff going on in my body aside from just pain) and some by the limited scope of what I had learned to cope with. I’d learned to live with a lot, to not be rattled by a lot of things, but I still have perceived limits. I needed to step up my game in order to get through bigger and more rewarding challenges.
So, I went back to the wisdom of my favourite monk. I picked up Joyful Wisdom once more and settled into a hot bath. I began to read. Then I began to gape a little. Then, I sort of looked around the room like I was being watched.
Because, the first few pages described exactly what I was feeling. In terms of having learnt to cope somewhat, learnt to know my mind somewhat, learnt to moderate my emotions somewhat…but still coming up short when faced with some challenges. The book welcomed me and my insecurities. “This is where you’re at?” it said, “Well, you’ve come to the right book. I have much to tell you, young grasshopper”.
(There is little distinction in my mind between Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Mr Miyagi. It’s a wise teacher thing, not a race thing.)
At 80 pages into a re-read, I am experiencing the thrill of realisation that I felt during The Joy Of Living. I’m ready for this book now. I’m ready for these lessons. I need them.
I recognise thoughts as thoughts and feelings as the products of thoughts, however I need to go further into my beliefs, preconceptions and perspectives in order to break through to a point of control, rather than just understanding.
Parts of me are still holding me back. That’s how I ended up shackled to an iron ball and trying desperately to fly away, without wings or Astro Boy boots. That’s how I ended up too confused to even blog most of the time. I almost forgot how much this writing helps me to sort through my head for weak spots and ways to deal.
I felt guilty about putting time into a blog post, instead of whatever responsibility I felt that I should be working on. Yet, I wasn’t quite capable of those other tasks and so, a lot of the time, I ended up doing nothing but get anxious and frustrated. Who knows? If I’d written through my feelings, I might have been able to move on to other things with a clear head.
We live and we learn, we do.
I will not let guilt stop me from writing anymore. I will continue to do what I can do, when I can do it. I will continue to foster space in which I can grow and expand the scope of the things that I can do. I will not feel guilty because I feel like I should be replying to people or writing something on a bigger scale than a personal blog post.
Guilt is a hindrance. I am choosing to believe that it’s OK to focus on me and what I need to do for a while, rather than the things that I’d like to do for other people.
I promise, it doesn’t mean that I love you any less.
Love & Boundaries,