When You're Treading Water
Here's an email I received that I think many of us can relate to:
I truly love life and am so grateful for where I am today and at the same time I feel like I am constantly treading water. After all the positive changes I've contributed to my life I still feel like life is so hard and I can't catch a break and all I do is work and I am so physically tired cannot afford health care and make to much too qualify for assistance, I am mentally and emotionally drained and tired all the time yet continue to think positive and always smile ~~ what to do... Carol, Austin, Tx.
Boy, do I ever know what it feels like to tread water. It sucks, big time.
Carol, I am going to give you some extremely radical advice - stop smiling all the time! Go hit a pillow and cry for a bit.
Don't get me wrong, positive thinking can be very powerful, and we are often in a much more empowered space when we utilize positive thinking, but it's not the be all and end all.
If you are feeling tired, frustrated, stressed out, and overwhelmed, then maybe forcing yourself to always "think positive" is counterproductive. It may end up actually draining you more, because instead of dealing with your feelings of frustration, you are expending a heck of a lot of energy trying to cover them up with a forced smile. This is why I say, give yourself a break - go throw a temper tantrum if you need to, and allow yourself to do it! Don't feel guilty! You don't need to put a good face to the world at all moments in time.
But let's back up for a second and take a look at the bigger picture here. Your life is hard. You're maxed out physically and financially. How on earth do you get out of it?
I'll give you a little hint: It has to do with this little word called Faith.
Now, here's the problem with positive thinking - many people teach that if you just think positively, suddenly the world will be your oyster.
It doesn't really work that way. It does work some of the time for some of the people, but it is not the instant cure-all. And part of the reason for that is that God may have a reason for challenging you right now.
I am going share a very wise quote, from an exceptionally silly movie, Evan Almighty. Imagine God (a god who looks like Morgan Freeman) is actually saying the following to you:
Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?
I will just tell you from personal experience that God has thrown me a lot of lessons in the form of hardship. My big hardship was getting chronic fatigue syndrome at 17, and it has been something I've battled for 20 years. I went on disability at 23. The chronic fatigue syndrome destroyed my fledgling career in the non-profit sector. It destroyed my relationship with my fiance. Then the illness destroyed my finances. I spent most of my so-called "best years," my youth, treading water.
I'd pray and pray for something to save me. First it was dreams of huge success (that I was physically incapable of handling at the time). I prayed for my soulmate. If I could just get married and have a partner to share some of the burdens of life, then everything would be fine! Well, wouldn't you know it, my soulmate had other plans, and he did not rescue me. I watched my entire family - my sister, step-sisters, and every single one of my cousins - get married (and with my mother having had two husbands that's a lot of step-siblings and step-cousins). There they were busy taking romantic trips, buying houses and popping out cute adorable babies, and here I was just trying to scrape up money for rent while being sick and physically exhausted in a deep, horrifying way that no-one who has never had true chronic fatigue syndrome will ever understand. Not fair!
I was alone and tired and frustrated and pissed off and hopeless frequently (and I still have those feelings sometimes today). I felt so completely deprived of things that most people in America seem to take for granted - money, love, career, a healthy youth. I felt like I was starting life from a deficit, a hole I would never climb out of.
Why did I not just shoot myself and end it all? I mean, geez, if you beat your head against a wall enough times, you might as well just bash it in entirely, right?
What happened, and I can't explain how or why, but spirit found me. No, I didn't become a born-again Christian. I just found connection with something greater than myself.
And after doing a lot of meditating, I have figured out that somehow, going through all that, made me the person I am today, which is a much kinder, more compassionate, and hopefully wiser person than I might have been had my life been easy.
Why me and not other people I know? I have no idea, except that's what spirit demanded of me. I was broken, so I could rebuild myself with a greater spirit and a shinier light.
I'm still going through the process today. Life is still tough quite often, and this economy is going to be hard on most of us. What makes it easier is to find some sort of spiritual practice that works for you, and sit your butt down and do it. Daily. Even if it's just 5 minutes for yourself in prayer and meditation.
See if you can't ask God - or your higher self, if that's what you connect with - why you are experiencing what you are experiencing, and is there any positive lesson to learn?
Here's a good exercise to do: Can you find a way to be less resistant to your circumstances?
Can you just relax and allow the struggle to dissipate as you let go of needing things to be better?
Can you say yes to your so-called shitty life?
There's a funny thing I've noticed - almost everyone I've ever met who was an heir living on a trust fund was a basket case and nutjob. Go figure. Getting things handed to you does not make life easier.
I've also noticed, that if I am connected with spirit, and trusting more, that God somehow gives me what I need, even if it's not what I want. Yes, the Rolling Stones were right...
You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find...
YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED!
Even if it's a deep, powerful soul lesson in the form of extreme hardship!
Finally, I don't think God throws us stuff that we are incapable of handling. So go within, connect to your spirit, and find that strength and beauty that's already within you.
Good luck, and keep me posted on your progress!