Tag Archives: gratitude

Lean into the suck. Embrace the s—t.

I live my life (mostly) trying to find my light and ease. To look for what’s working and what’s good. To bounce off of my struggles and soothe my heart.

I live that way. I write about it. I teach it.

Then there are times the only thing – or best thing – that has eased and soothed my heart and soul has been to lean into the suck. To acknowledge it and admit it.

Years ago I was in a very difficult place, struggling with a physical ailment that was knocking me to my knees. Over and over again. But I fought to find the good in it. I fought to stay positive at all times, to see what was right in my stinking situation.

Until a friend asked me how I was doing (as she drove me to our joint destination, as I could no longer drive due to my physical condition). I gave her all my platitudes. I pointed out all I was learning and how I was growing. I shared the rosy side of what was going on.

“But doesn’t it suck?” she asked me. “Why don’t you just admit it sucks?”

“Oh Lin,” I said. “It sucks. It sucks so, so much.” With that admission, my pained lessened a bit.

I’ve learned that while – for me at least – it is a best practice to find lightness and positivity, there comes a time when admitting my struggle and pain releases a bit of my struggle and pain. Perhaps because it takes so much energy to “be positive” when I feel anything but positive. Perhaps because my trying to be optimistic is lying about how I actually feel, and this self-dishonestly hurts. And hurts me.

There are times – for me at least – to lean into the suck.

There are also times to embrace my s—t. it is what it is. I am who and how I am. I may be on a lifelong journey to be my best self and to live my best life, but when I admit my foibles – when I own and even welcome my blemishes, faults, and the yucky parts of my personality and behavior – I again free myself.

I can still put too much pressure on myself to be my best self. I can still get lost in trying too hard and needing to be too perfect. I can still want to walk away from my humanness and, I guess, be without fault.

None of those habits work, and faultless isn’t true. Or possible.

When I can, instead, be human, I’m human. I’m real, and I’m happier.

When I can lean into the suck and embrace my s—t, when I can stop putting so much energy behind being perfect or fighting the truth of how awful I feel in the moment or trying so hard to reach some ideal that I learned (or made up) all those years ago, I am somehow more at peace. With less suck and less s—t.

Go figure.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Tim Graf on Unsplash

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Here’s the deal. It’s a daily practice.

There’s a reason they (whoever “they” are) call yoga a practice. It’s not (supposed to be) a destination. It’s not (supposed to be) an end point you’re aiming for. It’s not (supposed to be) something to check off your to-do list or to “win” at.

It’s a practice. Day by day. Being where you are in the moment and playing with the poses one more time to see what they bring you now. And now. And now.

Most days my yoga practice is different from other days. Sometimes poses are un-understandably easy. Sometimes they’re un-understandably difficult, or near impossible.

It’s a practice.

The same, I’m learning more and more, is true of my practices of meditation, finding joy, gratitude, allowing peace and ease, soothing my heart and soul…all of them.

They are all practices.

They are practices that may come easier some days than others or may seem like they have more and better “results” some days than others. They are practices that feel awkward at first – like the first time you stand in mountain pose…and stand…and stand – but that get more comfortable as time goes on. Or at least more doable.

I’ve told many of my clients recently that meditation becomes more effortless the more you practice. It’s funny that a practice that is mostly about doing nothing and sitting still seems to require so much effort at first. But as I practice and practice, I’m more able to be with my feelings as they come up or to watch my thoughts rather than get lost in my thoughts. I’m more able to let things be. I’m more able to catch myself in moments when I’m not meditating and notice my weird thoughts, accept my weird thoughts, and find something less weird or self-lambasting to think about.

I practice and my muscles grow stronger. Even if they’re muscles for not doing something. Even if they’re muscles for letting go and letting be.

It’s a daily practice. I need to remember to sit in quiet each day (or almost each day). I need to remember to first go to self-compassion…or at least second or third. I need to remember to actively look for things that will thrill my heart or ease my troubled soul.

The more I practice this, the more I intentionally build more muscles of self-care and self-love, the bigger my muscles get and the easier they become to tap into when I need them most.

I’m fueling new thought-patterns and building new muscles. It’s a daily practice to do that. A daily practice that I’m lucky – and grateful – to be able to do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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I distract myself

The other day a dear friend asked me what I did when I was upset at something, or someone. When my anger or sadness was taking over every minute. How did I handle it to stay calm and okay?

I paused before answering. (Did I mention we were running, and I always have to pause to get enough breath to answer?) “I look at what’s good,” I told her.

“Oh,” she replied. “Do you mean you look to see all you have, and how many awful things could be true for you that aren’t, and you realize you should be grateful rather than upset?”

“No,” I answered (again after trying to catch my breath). “I look for things that feel good right now. I distract myself like I would a toddler.” Another pause.

“I notice the trees against the sky.” (As I’ve written here often.) “The sound of seagulls.” (I was just in Portland, Maine.) “I hug my kid.” (Or anyone who will let me.)

I distract myself.

I no longer believe in covering up or denying my feelings, and I certainly no longer believe in beating myself up because I’m sad or angry or struggling. I’ve learned to allow those feelings to be – and to be part of me. (The anger was the hardest one to accept. I had learned real well not to get angry.)

But I’ve also learned that “I’m more than my feelings,” and “Feelings, not facts.” I’ve learned that I don’t have to stay in my anger or hurt or pain any longer than I want to. And I’ve learned that the best way to lighten my load is to lighten my load. 🙂 To look for situations or experiences or sensations that will ease my heart or relax my body.

To distract myself.

I’ve learned that if I look up – literally and metaphorically – I can usually find something to smile about. I’ve learned (and I teach) that when I smile, my brain somehow thinks I’m happy. I wouldn’t be smiling if I wasn’t happy – I’m not that crazy – so I must be happy. I use this to my greatest advantage.

It’s not that I have no right to complain because other people have it worse than me. My pain still hurts. It’s not that I shouldn’t feel pain, and I need to shut it down right away. Sometimes feeling – and leaning into – my pain and suffering is what I really need. It’s not that I need to be stronger, or better, or more resilient. I am (quite) strong enough, good enough, and resilient enough. And sometimes things just hurt. Or suck.

But I can lift myself out of my pain and suffering when I’m ready to be lifted out of my pain and suffering. And sometimes it’s as easy as just distracting myself.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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