I used to worry…a lot!
When things were going badly, my mind would dwell on my troubles, travelling to the land of Worst Case Scenarios. And when things were going well, I’d worry about when the other shoe would drop. I think I did this in an effort to protect myself. If I could imagine the worst case scenario then I would be prepared for when it happened, right? The thing is, most of the time those situations never happened.
That’s not to say I haven’t experienced loss in my life. To be human is to experience loss. Significant, painful, even life-changing losses. It also means to have incredible, joyful and transformative life-changing experiences! The good and the bad, the beautiful and the agonizing. Such is this delicate dance called life.
Quite a long time ago, it dawned on me. I was giving a lot of energy to planning for things that hardly ever happened. Worry was a wasted emotion! My thoughts literally were: “Can I do something about this situation? Yes? Then do it! No? Then surrender it and let it go.”
Whoa, wait a second! Wasn’t surrendering giving up? I wasn’t a giver-upper! Oh, hello Ego-Mind.
The thing is, I had gotten to a point where I could see that worry was taking away my peace of mind. It was creating stress which was impacting my life. I was experiencing insomnia, cynicism, and an inability to allow joy. That didn’t feel good. I didn’t want that. The thing is, it wasn’t the person, situation or thing that was causing my thoughts or feelings, it was my resistance to the person, situation, or thing that caused them. And who was responsible for my thoughts, my feelings? Me!
To surrender means to yield, and I’ve personally expanded that to mean to soften and flow. Surrender isn’t giving up, it’s letting go.
I am not the C.E.O of the Universe. When the proverbial poop hits the fan, I may not be in control of the situation but I can damn well choose how I respond to it. This used to mean going into “high alert”. Doing, doing, doing. Organizing and managing everyone and everything. (Turns out, most people don’t like being told what to do!)
So I started doing something different. I slowed down. I paused. I took my time. Sometimes I even took a time-out! That would often mean allowing myself a little self-care. Going to the gym, going for a run outside, getting a massage or pedicure, or having a coffee and venting session with a friend. Once it meant abruptly leaving my family, driving three hours to go to a small bed and breakfast alone for a couple of days mid-week. I read, journaled, hiked, wandered the small town, cried, enjoyed dinner by myself. I surrendered to whatever came up. And then I came home. Nothing was solved, but I was calmer, less edgy. I felt better and showed up better for my family.
At home, I continued to honour and follow the small knowing voice inside me. I began to check the thoughts that came into my mind and the words that came out of my mouth. I practiced. A lot. Because I needed a lot of practice. My old way of navigating the unexpected wasn’t serving me. Now I was aware. And once you “know” something, you can’t “un-know” it.
So how do I navigate the unexpected? I practice surrendering. I surrender to what is. I surrender to doing something about it if it’s in my ability to do so. If not, I surrender to the knowledge that there is something valuable for me in the situation. I may not like, and I often don’t in the moment, but now I am able to move more quickly from upset, frustration and disappointment to looking for the silver lining. And there always is one.