I’m in a weird space in my life. Things are coming together. Life is changing. But the way it’s changing is offering me a challenge in terms of my perspective. Now remember, perspective is a choice and sometimes it results in a little bit of an internal battle to get to a place where you can be okay. I want to share with you the internal struggle I’m having and what that looks like. I also want to share with you how I duke that out with myself so that I land in a healthy place with it.
My goal when I started this healing journey 9 years ago was to “fix” the financial chaos I had created for myself. As the years have gone by it’s become apparent that we were going to need a new car. All the bills that went to collections still needed to be paid. There were things I needed for myself and so on. My goal was to correct all of that on my own through the work that I’m doing. Yeah, not so much.
The car we’ve had for years has started to have some major issues. While we have managed to stabilize the daily household bills, we don’t have much room for things like car repairs, so I had to ask my family to help cover those costs. It became apparent that if we didn’t put at least a few thousand dollars into the car we would be trying to buy a car we couldn’t afford. Buying a car ourselves wasn’t really an option for us.
My family didn’t want to put a whole bunch of money into a car that wasn’t worth the money being put into it. What it came down to was that they offered to buy us a car. No, I didn’t ask them to do that. I’m not crazy enough to turn that down. I understand why they’d rather do it this way. I’m incredibly grateful for how easy they are making this for me and my family.
I’m a little bit like a toddler that wants her independence. Did you ever have a toddler that wanted their independence? It didn’t matter how they got that shirt on or how long it took them to do it, they were going to do it themselves. That’s me. I’m that person that wants to do it myself. When I can’t, I struggle with my perception, much like I am now.
What has become quickly apparent to me intuitively is that all the problems that I set out to fix are going to be simply taken from me by other people. I don’t actually have to fix anything. It’s all just going to happen around me. The only thing I have to do is not be the train wreck that I was in the past.
My independent streak is grumbling loudly. The goals I had aren’t needed. They were taken away from me, in a good way, but they were taken nonetheless. Some of my purpose, my reason for getting out of bed in the morning, is no longer there. That made me question my work. What’s the point if I don’t actually have to make anything happen or do anything? If I have a material goal and all I have to do is not argue with it and wait for it to show up, then I don’t even need to get out of bed in the morning. What’s the point of working? What’s the point of writing? Why bother?
I can manifest what I want which means I don’t have to struggle with life. I don’t have to fight for anything. I don’t have to argue with anything. That makes my life really easy. Why am I so attached to the struggle of doing it myself? Why am I actually disappointed by the idea of not having to struggle and fight for things?
Struggle offers purpose to us as human beings. When things are too easy it makes us question the point of what we’re doing because the purpose is not to get the thing, the purpose is in the struggle. It’s a skew in human perception that causes pain. I’m suddenly quite aware of this skew in my own perception. Let’s shift it so that we can stop identifying with the struggle.
If the purpose is not the struggle, then what’s the purpose? Joy. Ease. Happiness. Contentedness. Well-being. You know how “they” say life isn’t meant to be hard? It’s not. We just like to make it that way because we find purpose in the struggle. The struggle gives meaning to things. When you fight for something there is meaning in that. There is emotion in that. But why do we need that type of emotion to create purpose? Why isn’t the thing enough? I created the new car. Why do I need the struggle? The car was the goal. I got it. So what’s the problem? The identification with the struggle. The identification with needing to fight for things. The identification with how I thought it should be or how I wanted it to be.
I wanted the money to show up so I could go buy the new car and instead I just got the car. I skipped the middle man (the money) entirely. It works! It gets me to where I want to go but that’s not the whole story because there was something about working for the money, creating financial success, that was important to me. Does getting the car this way mean I can’t have financial success? Of course not. The financial goals can actually stay in place. I don’t have to give those up necessarily. It’s just that the money I make doesn’t have to be used to fix things. It can be used to maintain and improve things. I can create more and more well-being for myself without having to start by fixing things first. I skipped a step or two.
There was an underlying goal and it was that I didn’t want to struggle. I truly wanted it to be easy but my definition of easy wasn’t that somebody else would do it for me, it was that it would be easy for me to do it myself. I suppose when things are just handed to you, that’s as easy as it gets. It’s even easier than my original plan. My original plan still had some struggle in it. First I had to make the money and then I had to fix the problems. Now I don’t have to struggle to make the money and I don’t really have to fix the problems either. I got what I wanted essentially. Life gets to be easy in every sense of the word.
I just wanted to pick the struggle because I had accepted that the struggle was part of the plan. If I was going to struggle then I wanted to be able to choose what the struggle was. But now I get to pick from a new set of options. It’s no longer just a list of struggles. It’s a list of things I want to create for myself. The meaning comes from putting things on that list that matter to me. I can work towards them and not struggle to get them. I don’t have to fight for them either. They will simply show up when they are supposed to.
The work that I do matters because I care about it, not because it pays me well, not because I need it to fix the problems in my life, not because I’m supposed to be doing it, but because I actually want to do it. There will be a natural progression in my work because of my work, not because I’m busy trying to make things happen. All the work I’ve put into figuring out exactly what I wanted things to look like, figuring out what the work I wanted to do was, and understanding how it was meant to show up in the world brought me here. The natural progression in the timeline of my healing journey was that I started with specific goals to fix the struggle, then I moved to figuring out what my work was, and now I’ve moved to having things given to me so that I no longer have to deal with the struggle at all. It all comes down to me being able to manifest the ease that I went looking for in the first place.
Let’s back up because there were some realizations and things that needed to happen for me to create all this. The biggest one that’s coming up is the need to stop defending myself. When I talk about this sometimes it gets misinterpreted as being a doormat for other people. That’s not what we’re talking about. You can stand your ground and not defend yourself at the same time.
When people throw pain you have the ability to be aware of that and then not pick it up and throw it back. That’s how you stop defending yourself. You stand your ground by addressing the underlying concerns that are coming through with the pain. The other person is trying to stop you from going skydiving and so they project all kinds of fear and pain at you. Instead of defending yourself from that pain you simply address the concerns that are mixed in with the pain. You don’t change your choice to go skydiving. You simply make a point of only addressing the concerns that people have.
Is that hard to do? It can be because it’s easy to get tied up in the pain. That’s what most people do. They take on the fear and doubt that people offer instead of recognizing what the underlying concerns are and taking responsibility for those. The pain becomes a distraction from what needs the attention. The pain doesn’t need your attention. It’s more like a mental footnote. You just bookmark it for later because in that moment the underlying concerns are what’s causing the pain. If you can address the concerns the pain should go away by itself.
If you break your arm, pain is a symptom of a broken bone. But if you just treat the pain and you ignore the broken bone, you may find you have a a problem later. The arm may not heal properly. You can’t just treat the pain even though that’s the thing that you’re most aware of. It’s not the most important part of the process though. It just makes itself known in such a way that it’s hard to ignore. The pain of a broken bone is the thing that screams the loudest but it’s not necessarily the thing that needs the most attention. The same is true in your life. The pain that gets thrown around is not usually the most important thing. There is an underlying message in the pain that you have to be willing to look for.
When you decide you want to go skydiving and your friends or family are talking about how the parachute will fail while also telling you stories about death, you can address the parachute concerns and ignore the other bits. Take the focus off the pain or their opinions on your choices. Recognize where your attention needs to go.
When you focus on the pain the conversation quickly becomes an argument. It doesn’t have to be like that if you can ignore the bits that bother you and focus on the actual concerns the other person has. Simply get to a place where you’re not willing to argue anymore. I know that sounds crazy, but when you stop arguing it changes your relationships with people.
I lived in defensive mode for years. I made everything an argument. It just doesn’t have to be like that. You can stand your ground and not argue. You can make your own choices and not argue. You can do your own thing and not argue. You can do everything without arguing with anybody about anything.
How? By no longer needing to defend yourself. The only reason you argue is because you want to defend yourself. The ego gets in the way. It’s the ego that’s arguing with it. It’s the ego that’s trying to protect you. Now remember, the ego isn’t bad. It’s a very useful thing to have while you’re in a human body. It just has some strategies that don’t work so well. The idea is that we can change those. We can give the ego some new strategies that work better.
Honestly, the mind has the same faults and requires the same level of intervention so that it doesn’t create pain unnecessarily either. We need both the mind and the ego to play along so we offer them some new strategies that make things easier. The fun of the mind and the ego is that they are kind of stubborn. Chances are they’ve been running the show for you for a long time. Because they are used to running the show, when you take over, they don’t like it. They are set in their ways of being. So what we’re doing is gently encouraging them to try new things and expand their horizons a little bit. It’s a good thing. It just takes some work.
Once we understand that there are new strategies that we can use and that we don’t need to hog tie our egos or our minds to do it, we can begin to try those new strategies. The ego and the mind do eventually play along. The sort of power struggle that you have early on goes away because the mind and the ego quickly realize that it’s okay and that nothing is going to happen. Once they realize it’s safe and they don’t have to protect you anymore, they chill.
The reason I say that is because I don’t struggle with getting my mind and ego to play along anymore. I can remember at the beginning it was a knock down drag out fight to do what I wanted to do. But now, I pretty much just decide what I’m going to do and do it. I don’t get much push back anymore. The same will be true for you as you move through this process. It gets easier as you go along.
If you’re not defending yourself and you’re not arguing, then what are you doing? That seems to be the million dollar question because what happens is that we like to swing the pendulum violently the other way. If I’m not defending myself then I’m being a doormat. You mean there is no middle ground at all? You’re either all up in your ego with your boundaries and your arguments or you just roll over. That’s all you’ve got? On or off. Nothing else?
I write that somewhat tongue in cheek because that was me. I had stubborn and I had not at all. I had on or off and absolutely nothing in between. That was part of what made me a train wreck on legs. So what was the solution?
I learned that I didn’t need to be stubborn. I learned that I could stand my ground and make choices but at the same time I learned where it made sense to give in. I learned balance. Balance. I learned how to give and take. I learned how to make choices and do things without projecting pain. I learned how to allow other people to make choices and do things regardless of whether they projected pain or not.
Boundaries are actually a very ego-centered construct. They are a self-defense mechanism. What are you protecting yourself from? Now you tell me all about what the other person said and did and how you evicted them from your life temporarily. When we’re not in the extremes of human behavior such as horrific trauma and abuse, the eviction notice is an over-reaction in most cases. The other person’s pain just bothered you when they projected it outward. They triggered you with their pain and your boundary was the reaction. What was the trigger? Why did their pain bother you so much?
I’m not suggesting that you have to like what other people do. I am not suggesting that you stay in life-threatening situations or dangerously abusive relationships. I am simply suggesting that you recognize the pain in other people and you get less bothered by it in your day-to-day experience. What does that mean?
When people become argumentative it’s because they are bothered by something, they are defending something. Without making yourself a victim of it, do you know what they are bothered by? Can you pinpoint what set them off? Regardless of whether or not you can, can you just accept that they are throwing pain without doing anything about it?
You always have a choice of what to do next. You can allow yourself to be bothered by it and defend yourself or start an argument. You can also not be bothered by it and make a conscious choice of how to react that doesn’t offer more pain. In every situation you retain control over yourself and your own choices. When you do things vindictively, that’s a choice. You’re reacting based on the pain you’ve picked up. You can also make a conscious choice to just do the thing anyway. It doesn’t have to be vindictive or come from a place of pain at all. It can simply be that you are retaining your own autonomy and that’s okay too. How the other person interprets that is up to them. So if they see it as vindictive, that’s on them. That’s not yours and it has nothing to do with you.
I can make the same choice from two places - vindictively from pain or consciously while retaining my autonomy. Both result in me making the same choice, but the reason behind the choice is different. That difference is important because ultimately when the other person objects, that energy determines how you react. If you’re being vindictive then you react from there by projecting more pain. If you’re not being vindictive then you can react calmly and simply explain that you understand how they feel but you’re doing the thing anyway. It’s not disrespectful to do the thing anyway. You can respect the pain and still do the thing. The idea that you can’t is the other person making your choice the reason why they stay upset or not. They are putting their feelings under your control. Why are you responsible for how they feel? You’re not. How they feel is up to them. How they react is up to them. What they do is up to them. None of those things should be conditional on your choices.
When two people who are practicing self-mastery are in a relationship of any kind with each other there are no boundaries. There is no arguing. Everybody retains full autonomy and control over themselves. One person makes a choice and the other doesn’t get bothered by it. One person says something that projects pain, the other person doesn’t pick it up. The relationship offers compassion and empathy without any need for control of the other person. They don’t make each other responsible for how they feel, what they think, what they do, or the choices they make.
The relationship is a very neutral space, but it’s also very safe. You know automatically the other person isn’t going to pick anything up, which means you’re free to put the pain out there without worrying about the reaction. You don’t have to be scared of your choices. Then what happens next is called balance. I made the choice this time and next time, I let you decide. I see the pain and I balance that. I see my own stuff and correct it or apologize for it. I’m accountable for me and I own that every single day. I’m able to manage myself fully within the experience of the relationship. That means the other person is free to be exactly who they are without ever worrying about my reaction to them.
The need to argue is the fight for control. I want to control the experience or change it in some way and I can’t. That’s what makes you argue. Now the ego takes it on and makes you a victim of it. Can you see the problem with that now? You don’t need control if you can learn to leave people and their pain where they are. Can you separate yourself from all that drama and just recognize that none of it is yours and you don’t need to control any of it?
You continue to argue with it and that keeps you stuck in it. The fight is really for control. Even the need to be right is an underlying need for control. If I’m right then you’ll do what I’m telling you, you’ll conform. That’s also control. Leaving people where they are means you don’t need to control their experience or make them conform to you in any way. You’re willing to let them be and that’s important because that’s what offers you inner peace. That’s what offers you the ability to be okay in your experience.
Are you arguing with me now? Have you associated this with not caring? Remember that caring is not control and control is not caring. You can absolutely care without ever needing to take control over anything outside of you. You can offer how you feel without making the other person responsible for it. You can state that you don’t like the choice while continuing to own your own feelings. How I feel is not your responsibility. I’m going to share with you how I feel but you’re not responsible for fixing that.