HOW TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE OF LIFE

10/18/2019

I am in BALI! 

It’s paradise here and I couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to travel the way I have and I am not going to lie, my transition here was… let’s just say, challenging.  Like, from the get go: I missed my flight. I was supposed to leave the night before and didn’t realize I got the dates wrong. I received a “no show” text when I woke up the morning after my scheduled flight.  I was bummed. I had to pay a change fee, a fee to reissue the ticket and the difference in airfare. Considering I fancy myself an optimist, I looked for the silver lining… I was like “Oh, I am supposed to meet someone special on this new flight.”  Then that someone special was not on my new flight. Bummer. Still trying to stay positive, I endured twenty nine hours of travel including two nail-biting hours in video-game-level traffic, anxious to rest in my Airbnb. When I arrived at the villa, I realized I left my new Airpods at the airport, and then the air conditioning in the new apartment was broken. 

Wait, there is more! (Because everyone loves hearing others complain about travel, right?)

The light in the bathroom was burnt out, and the main shower head was broken. I was so jet lagged I felt like I couldn’t string together a coherent sentence, let alone make sense of these disturbances. The next morning, still in a state of jet lagary (it is like being “hangry” but for rest) I realized that three of my things broke in transit, too. Then a necklace that was my Mom’s shattered and as if the silver beads knew they were being chased, they rolled quickly to every corner of the bedroom. Shortly thereafter, I sat down at my computer and a lizard crapped on my hand. Was that before or after I felt feverish and had diarrhea? I can’t remember. 

WHAT IS GOING ON?!

I started to step back and assess my vibes. 

Of course, I understand I’m very blessed to just be in Bali, but why was I experiencing so many micro-hurdles? Was I attracting them to me? What did I do or feel to invite all of this?  Everything in our reality is an outward expression of something within us. I live by this truth, thanks to a powerful awakening in 2015, and yet when the outside of me is nothing but madness and chaos, understanding you’re the cause of your pain can lead to an endless loop of self judgement! Among other things, I was mad at myself for not just enjoying everything, being grateful and dismissing the minor roadblocks. It’s hard to be kind to yourself when you think you’re the one to blame! Eeeks! There has to be a better way…

THE CHINESE FINGER TRAP

I like to say that life is like a Chinese Finger Trap. Do you remember those? A Chinese finger trap is a gag toy used to play a practical joke on unsuspecting children and adults. The finger trap is a simple puzzle that traps the victim’s finger (often the index finger) in both ends of a small cylinder woven from bamboo. The initial reaction of the victim is to pull their fingers outward but this only tightens the trap. The way to get out of the trap is to push both ends toward the middle which softens the opening and frees the fingers. 

The reality is… life is full of riddles. We get sick, we lose things, stuff breaks, we go bankrupt and people die, sadly. Maybe when things go all wonky, it isn’t an expression of our frustrations, sadness and discontent, (as “Law of Attraction” enthusiasts sometimes believe) but rather the extent to which we reject these emotions and it’s that rejection that perpetuates a continuous series of hardship. Can we find a way to live harmoniously with misfortune? I think so. 

HOW I SOLVED THE PUZZLE 

The truth is, my internal rumblings of unrest started way before Bali and I was not accepting what was arising within me. I was self critical and then on top of that, I was critical of the self criticism.  I had been feeling unsettled and unsure about my next steps in life and I wasn’t letting myself to really feel the turmoil that was arising. 

I was judging my inner turmoil.  Can you relate? Who doesn’t do that?

Then, my friend Gilly reminded me about “radical acceptance” and it clicked!  I wasn’t radically accepting myself and where I was at. I felt like I was in a fun house and the only thing I could hear was my own voice screaming half-incoherent, unkind directions about how I get out. I started to realize that the missed flight wasn’t the first experience eliciting frustration, it was just yet another experience showing me that I had this self-rejecting, other-rejecting certainty about how things are “supposed to be.” Instead of just feeling frustrated and sad, I was judging the feelings and in turn repressing their full expression. In other words, I wasn’t “radically accepting” what was coming up within me. As my genius friend Dr. Kelly Brogan says in her new book, Own Your Self,  “Through spiritual bypassing, many on the paths of self development and metaphysical exploration ignore and dismiss the role of painful emotions in the complete human experience.”  Accepting myself in those moments of despair felt radical because I was then sending a message that it was OK to have feelings of extraordinary discomfort.  And that is just it!  As backwards, and inside out as it sounds, when we accept that we are frustrated, or sad, or hurt, and just let ourselves be, we soften, which in turn loosens the grip that the experience has on us. Chinese finger trap puzzle – solved! 

As I was writing this piece, while still in Bali, I also came across the book To Be Human, in a coffee shop and I opened to a page where Krishna Murti eloquently articulates the trappings of keeping oneself under the critical eye by saying, 

“When…the observer, the entity, and the thing called dislike are the same, there is complete immobility, which is not “staticism” but complete motionlessness, therefore complete silence. Time is movement, time as thought achieving a result, comes totally to an end, therefore action is instantaneous. So the mind has laid the foundation and is free from disorder.”  

In other words, when we reflect on ourselves, the very act alone causes a separation, and we move out of the present moment and away from the magic of now

HOW TO ACCEPT YOURSELF 

WITH WHATEVER ARISES

  1. Name the emotion. If you are feeling frustrated, angry or sad, say to yourself, “I am feeling frustrated (angry and sad).” Then think about where it is in your body. Breathe. 
  2. Tell yourself that it is OK that you are having this emotion. Many of us were told to “stop crying” as kids or were shut down when we expressed, so we have learned to hide our feelings. This  – here and now – is a reprogramming: Tell yourself it is OK to feel intense feelings. 
  3. Drop the story. Don’t focus on the details of what happened and steer away from blaming others. Rather than be wrapped up in the past, just explain to yourself why it is okay that you feel whatever you are feeling. For example, if you keep running into roadblocks, or you feel rejected by someone, or feel like you are not living up to expectations you have of yourself, explain to yourself that OF COURSE you are going to feel feelings associated with challenging experiences. This is understandable. We all want to feel safe, cared for and loved. 
  4. Take yourself off the hook, and stop getting mad at yourself!  Tell yourself that you did nothing wrong.  We can’t do anything wrong, even though you may have been taught something very different, there is no wrong way. Everything is exactly as it should be. Always. 

When we don’t allow ourselves to feel feelings, situations in our lives come back to evoke the feeling that needs to be expressed. Very likely the feelings you’re having are coming up with intensity because they didn’t get fully expressed when you were a child, or you’re carrying this oppression from another lifetime. Get it out now! Stop judging yourself! Or, as I said to a client recently during a healing, “raising your vibration” doesn’t happen when you force yourself to be happy, it comes with loving yourself, even when you are not happy. The experiences of life are not the problem, it is the judgement about how we think we should be experiencing the experience that keeps us stuck.  

Everything in our lives is

reflective of the degree

to which we commit

to SELF LOVE, everything.

This is where healing

starts, and confusion ends.

As soon as I allowed myself to show up as exactly who I am (which included a melt-down, freak out about aging!) everything started to fall into place. Radical self acceptance shifted me and as a result, Bali started to reflect back to me my full spectrum, which had come to include grace, forgiveness and love. 

(And… now, I’m back in the “Miracle Zone”! See Instagram post for more on that…)

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Leave a Comment

  • Carolinne Griffin

    Ah, the joys of travel! It brings everything to the service. Great work. Thank you for the golden nuggets of truth-telling. x

  • Mekea Grace Duffy

    Sometimes it strikes me funny how challenging it is to accept ourselves. REALLY doing so is radical. A key to discovery, joy and love yet we inadvertently get in our own way. Thank you for illustrating this journey–a good reminder of how simple/complex we are.

  • Virginie

    J’adore!!! Bravo and thank you beautiful for sharing this wonderful reflection.. you are my mirror 😉 nice to see it from the other side of it!! Now I can see better

    • admin_tahra

      Oh so glad it resonated with you… that’s the idea right? We are so similar. xxx