As some of you know, I have lived a pretty secluded life over the past few years. House on the Swedish countryside, no internet at home, limited cell phone use, long distances to my friends and not very travel-friendly (or super travel-friendly, depending on how you look at it – pretty much every outing was a trip in its own rights).
I am grateful for the experience. It taught me to appreciate and value things I didn’t use to pay much attention to – or that I even used to avoid. Being close to nature. Being alone with myself without any distractions. Stillness, both on the outside and within me.
On my good days, I could appreciate the gift that this period of my life was, even then. On my bad days, I hated that I didn’t have a choice.
If I allowed myself to give up my resistance and surrender to what it was I would have wanted to distract myself from, I always came out on the other side being thankful for it. I don’t know if I’d had the strength to make myself do that if I’d had a choice.
More often than not I was glad to have an excuse to switch my phone off and not be available all all the time. I found that I am not as adverse to being outdoors as I thought I was, moreover: I discovered the deep feeling of connection to all living things that you only experience when you find yourself fully immersed in the beauty of nature. There’s no cell phone plan for that.
Having gone through those experiences, especially through my own resistance, I can see how I benefit from them now that I am in a different place, where I suddenly do have all those choices I wanted so badly back then.
I can actually feel the need to go outside and find a place where I feel close to nature because I know now that these are places where I connect with myself. I can feel the need to turn my computer and phone off at a certain point during the day. I am not afraid anymore of missing out if I’m not connected to social media 24/7. I understand now that when the feeling arises that I am losing touch with myself, the answer is never to be found outside of myself, in distraction. I always find it by turning inwards, towards whatever shape that feeling comes in. It may be triggered by my mind getting hung up on something someone said, or something I read somewhere that struck a chord.
Therefore I continue to be grateful for knowing the place where the lack of choices forced me to turn to the only thing that was left: facing myself. Now that I am in a place again where I have many options, this makes it easy for me to choose.
Facing ourselves, tackling that resistance even when we technically don’t have to, when we could distract ourselves, is always worth it. For all the things we try to avoid seeing in and about ourselves lead to great treasures.
How to deal with conflicting emotions
Recently, I have been through quite a few emotional roller coasters. Since my intuition and I have become pretty good friends, I was able to accept this state even when I didn’t understand what triggered this process at first. Nevertheless, my mind wanted to know. It always does. Here’s the answer I’ve come up with, and what I’ve found to be a good way to deal with conflicting feelings.
The major change in my life has been that I have made some decisions that broke my routine. Well, actually, there hasn’t been much of a routine, that’s the thing: I ended my life as I knew it, and after a period of regrouping I am now at the point where something else is starting to fill the space. Since I have been making a conscious effort to shape this new life, of course, the new that is coming or about to enter means a great deal to me! Somehow I just hadn’t factored in that that is enough to trigger all kinds of emotions.
I finally realized that there is nothing „wrong“ about this process, there is no mistake. Whenever I am engaging in something I care about, I always have seemingly conflicting emotions. I am never only overjoyed. I am never only terrified. As long as I am not indifferent, there is always both – excitement and anticipation at the prospect of change, but also fear and anxiety over the possibility that things might not turn out the way I wish for.
I wrote „seemingly conflicting“ because I believe that those emotions are not in fact conflicting. They are two sides of the same coin. Whenever I feel like there is something to win, naturally part of me is afraid of not winning = losing. I have done enough things I didn’t really care about either way, so that I can confirm that that is the best recipe for complete loss of energy. So that is not the alternative I am planning on applying.
Then what to do without becoming the figurative stoic that says „I knew I had fathered a mortal“ when confronted with the death of his son? Because I definitely don’t want that kind of indifference, either.
Here’s what I’ve found works for me:
1. Accepting that I have feelings and ideas about how I should feel. On everything! It appears to come with the being human gig. It’s only when I step into that trap where I try to deny or fight my feelings that things get ugly, and they end up controlling me.
2. Therefore, the number one priority is to allow all my thoughts and feelings to be heard. I make a point to check how it would make me feel if I listened to any of them. For instance, when the prospect of doing something makes me really happy, but there are some concerns, I accept the concerns but go ahead anyway. Either with a plan on how to tackle the concerns or with the confidence that any problems will be resolved if the need arises. They’re probably not even actual „dangers“ but just my fear’s way of saying „Don’t go there!“.
However, when I realize that the thought of not doing something I had set my mind to actually fills me with relief, and the reasons for doing it are mainly ideas of of what I am „supposed to be doing“, it’s safe to say that it’s a good idea to lay low. Maybe it’s not the right timing, or maybe I the underlying idea of why I should be doing this is misguided. This is the part where it’s helpful to trust that gut instinct, even when I can’t see all the whys at that time.
I believe that I came here into this life with a plan, where the most important milestones are already decided upon. Our ego is a lot less in control than it likes to make us believe. When I look back at my life, I was hardly ever aware of the significance of the events that really shaped its course. The things that seemed important, which I worked myself up over, turned out not to be. The things that were, were never entirely up to me. In fact, I could even „mess them up“ and „somehow“ they worked out anyway – because that was the way things were needed to be for me to stay on my path.
3. The real challenge then is to achieve that balance where I accept that I have feelings but where I also trust that they are not the complete picture. Yes, of course achieving certain goals makes me happy. And yes, sometimes I experience loss and it feels awful. But the thing is, that is not the totality of life, there is a happiness that is not tied to any achievements or fulfillment of desires – or loss thereof.
This moment right now is something I’ve once longed for: having alone time, being able to use my cell phone and my computer at home (long story, another time). And it’s also something I’ve once been afraid of because I got here losing things and people on the way.
There is nothing wrong with having goals and desires, in fact I am only now beginning to (re-)discover their importance. The happiest life is the one where we can gracefully combine the two: setting goals, acknowledging our heart’s desires, and setting out to achieve them with the confidence that we in fact already have everything we need to be happy right here and now. Anything we set out to do is all about experiencing a variation of happiness, not earning the right to be happy if we achieve a certain goal.
Everything we need along the way will be provided for. No feelings (our own or others‘), mistakes or accidents can jeopardize what is truly meant to be ours. Detours are part of the road, getting lost is, too. Whichever path we choose, it will lead us closer to home – our true self.