“I don’t know,” my friend said, with a sigh. “I just feel so uncomfortable and tired from everything that’s been going on this year. I wonder when we will just be able to get back to living our lives and not having so many challenges all the time?”
I looked at her with an understanding smile. “The way I see it,” I said gently, “we are living a reality we’ve all been creating, collectively, for quite some time. I believe what we are wanting and needing now is a lot of healing and more sustainable ways of living. This calls for what is harming us to come to the surface where it can be addressed and resolved, and this, as we have seen and experienced, is not comfortable.”
I continued, “getting to a place where we can experience what we truly want from life means becoming more comfortable with the discomfort that comes from shedding our old, out-molded and damaging ways. The shadow aspects of ourselves, our systems and the ways in which we have become accustomed to living and doing things are coming up to be highlighted, understood and challenged.”
“I suppose,” my friend replied, sighing again. “I just don’t like things being so difficult and not knowing when it will all begin to show real signs of improvement.”
“I get it,” I said to her, smiling, “and yet, I, personally, find that when the discomfort I’m feeling is for a good reason, like when I’m doing a body detox cleanse or pushing myself through a tough exercise regime, I can look at it differently, and by doing this, I experience it differently.”
My friend looked at me, and I went on.
“What good do you see in your life that has come out of the way things have been this year?”
She studied her coffee cup for a moment and then looked up. “Well, to start, I’ve learned to set better boundaries around my personal time and work responsibilities. I think this has actually made me feel more empowered and much better in my family relationships and asking for support and respect when it comes to what I need.”
“That’s huge!” I responded enthusiastically.
“You know, it is!” she replied with a smile, “and I’m really liking all the time I’ve been able to spend with the boys. They are 12, 15 & 17, and since we haven’t been running in a million separate directions like we used to, we have much more quality time together. We’ve spent most of our weekends doing outdoor activities, and a few weekends ago, I was able to go fishing with them for the first time. I can’t believe I’d never taken the time to do that with them before. It was very relaxing and a lot of fun!”
“I really love that for you and your family,” I said, “and I do believe that the past year has made us all more aware of what truly matters to us. It also has us more mindful of the things we have become so dependent upon. When certain expectations cannot be met and our basic needs are attached to them, we realize how much we have come to rely on these systems, people, situations and things to give us what we need to live and feel connected, secure and even happy.”
“And now that many of those things have become more challenged, we attach and identify our very ability to be comfortable to them,” my friend added, looking like a light bulb had just gone off in her brain.
I smiled at her, nodding, and then added, “we may not be able to reclaim what we had, but we always have the ability to look at what we have now, and plan and work towards what we want in the future. The way I see it, if it’s going away, it’s meant to, and it’s also making room for something even better.”
In the book, The Coddling of the American Mind, authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt make the argument that our culture is creating an environment that is making us less able to handle challenge, and therefore less able to grow and build resiliency. We are becoming increasingly fragile.
With what we have gone through in the past year, we have certainly seen how this time has put a spotlight on American fragility when it comes to our health, finances, governmental systems, education, overall mindset and how we have learned to get along.
As I see it, we have lived in a world, really, that has had us managing our suffering instead of empowering our value.
The age-old paradigm of suffering has us working from a disempowered dynamic, which has us either living from a mentality of victimization or from a position of perpetuating it.
The model of managing suffering creates the need for competition, which breeds an “us vs. them” approach to living and supports the need for polarization and dichotomous thinking. Here, you are either winning or losing, and you’re either “with us or against us.”
Let’s look at this practice and be brutally honest. How far has this really gotten us? I know one thing for sure: it has landed us right here where we are now experiencing all that we are going through.
When we begin to shift to a model of empowering value, we are invited to look through the lens of creator, where we recognize our power to manifest everything we experience. We progress through the process of building awareness of our value to engaging with this value to better develop and understand it, and finally to owning our value, so that we have the confidence, clarity and acceptance of how our value is not only valuable, but meant to be valued.
The model of empowering value takes away any need for competition, as we are all focused on finding just where our own unique value can augment that of the collective whole. We strive to bring the best version of our value forward, and that challenge to grow and develop ourselves becomes our driving force. This paradigm creates a natural necessity for collaboration, advances our understanding of “together we are better,” and has us looking for the win-win solution.
It may sound overly optimistic, and I don’t know what the timeline might be, but I do believe this is the direction in which we are going and precisely why we are experiencing all that we are right now.
The longer we resist and continue to focus on the “oh how awfuls,” the blame/shame game, “us vs them” thinking and being a culture that cannot be uncomfortable, the longer this transition will take and the more uncomfortable this all will get. After all, what we resist persists.
I think we have a lot, still, to go through, and it’s time to adopt a mature perspective and be willing to go through what we need to in order to build resiliency and turn this ship around. The hour is now to stop simply talking the talk and start truly walking the walk. This means living in faith, commitment and dedicated action geared towards creating a legacy that is focused on a better world for everyone.