I’ve been giving a lot of thought about how we can sometimes reserve happiness until later. I find myself doing this and wonder if it’s because of my childlike religious understanding that joy comes after death. Or if it's because of unprocessed disappointment I thought I was just supposed to accept because life isn’t perfect. Or maybe it’s because of the trauma I experienced witnessing my father’s sudden death -- something so final and unexpected that I began to guard myself from life’s turbulence, or so I thought. This safety zone I created for myself over the years actually blocked love. It blocked my capacity to give and receive, though I was later reminded that opening wide to love is my/our truest calling.
I remember talking to my therapist once about love and relationships and she said in response, “You are going to get hurt. That’s a part of love. Your heart will break. But that, too, is love.” I wouldn’t say I thought of love as a “happily ever after” fairytale but I did have this dualistic thinking about love: if it feels good, it won’t hurt; if it hurts, it’s not love. That was my youthful understanding and expectation that extended into adulthood because I never allowed myself to question and redesign my vision, boundaries, and expectations.
The truth is, whether it’s a friendship, familial relationships, or romance – pain will be involved to some degree. We are human. We disappoint one another. We have expectations that make this so. But can we still make room for joy? Can we live enough in the moment to allow ourselves to realize and feel our wholeness?
Take a look at your current life. How happy are you, really? Are you making space to enjoy your life or are you consistently thinking of what’s next, striving to “arrive”? You know what? That won’t bring you happiness. It contracts your heart and limits your foresight. Always wanting more and working harder is a part of the matrix we actually want to escape. It’s a trick of the mind that steals from the spirit.
Here's another question: why are you working so hard to get to what’s next? You might say it is for your family, or to be financially secure, or to prove to yourself and others you can do it. Maybe it’s the rush or the sense of accomplishment. Maybe you are telling yourself you will have time to sleep and rest later.
I wonder if the undue pressure you put on yourself might be because you don’t know how to stop. Or you are afraid to. That’s been my reason, if I’m honest. Beneath it all, there has been fear. Fear of deeply feeling it all. Fear of disappointment in myself and others. Fear of getting too close… Fear of the fantasy not being real. Fear of getting too high that I will eventually have to slide backwards. Fear of endings, unexpended or otherwise.
I had to get real with myself. Feel what was going on beneath the words and actions. What were my triggers and why? And, how do I hold myself and all of my emotions? This has been the lesson and opportunity.
A friend and I were talking recently about how we both had amazing childhoods but somehow, along the way of life, some pain got in and hasn’t made its way out. What I’ve learned is that’s okay. The responsibility we have to ourselves is to not allow the pain to disrupt or delay the goodness that wants to come. That is already here.
Life is full of pain and tragedy. We cannot predict the future. But we can find a balance with preparing for it and being fully open to the now, joy included. Think about it, how do you feel when you are completely in the moment, not thinking about the past or the future, but soaking in what is now? Odds are you feel lighter and happier. Who says that can’t be the majority of your experience?
Does it mean you won't have heartache? No. Illness? No. Grief? No. But what I have learned in each of those states of being is that you can open to what is and surround yourself with your own love and feel all that is Love. There is where you will find peace.
Look, I’m on this journey taking one step at a time. Writing as my guide. And what becomes clearer is that there are sunny days, dreams do come true, love does exist and grows, joy can permeate your being, opportunities do land in your lap, creativity is a healer, prayers are answered with a “yes” in due time. I have a right to receive that unconditional love. Not because I've done anything to deserve it but because Life is set up that way. And it's set up for you that way, too!
Life will never be perfect as long as we have the belief that it should happen on our terms. Life is most beautiful, I believe, when we learn to trust it and ourselves a little more. It’s a process of healing, of expansion, of redefining what works, of flowing, of being, of deeply tapping into Essence, of surrendering it all, and of dancing to each beat.
A creative spirit, coach & corporate professional, Jacinta White shares how she merges, what she calls, "the sacred messiness of life" & her love for all things artsy. Follow for tips, prompts, musings & more!