There are days when life feels like more of a struggle. When I’m tired and stressed, or sick, or an event has shaken me, my path seems more difficult.
At those times, it’s very tempting to compare my circumstances with other people’s. When I do that, my inner dragon—that negative inner voice—looks for a way that I (or someone close to me) have fallen short.
The theme of my inner dragon is that I “should be” further along—in my writing, in my business, in my painting, in my life.
It’s a painful distraction from what I’m afraid might be even more painful: deeper inner assessment, and facing the action I need to take next.
Thankfully, sometimes my inner guide—that wise inner voice—injects compassion. Ironically, it’s empathy that allows me to look dispassionately at the harder stuff, and it’s usually not as bad as I was afraid it would be.
Self-compassion allows me to see that the “shoulds”—real or imagined—are in the past. Now, they’re simply knowledge that helps me take the next step. If I need to do something differently, I re-prioritize and get back to my creative practice.
When outer circumstances hinder my progress, self-compassion allows me to acknowledge that I don’t have control, so I can let go of the struggle. I know I will get back to my practice when I’m able.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
But what do you do when it’s not easy?
What do you do when your inner guide is on vacation?
When my inner guide is under a beach umbrella reading a good book, my inner dragon goes through a list of things that I “should” have done differently. To make it worse, I usually mingle that list with things that I think other people “should” have done differently.
Ugh! It’s kind of like an obsessive tape (record, DVD, MP3) playing in my mind.
When my fire-breathing inner dragon is scorching my soul, I try to remember to stop, drop, and roll.
Stop the negative tape! If you keep going over the same thoughts again and again, you won’t get anywhere.
Needless struggle—focusing on the negative and worrying about the future—is a waste of your spirit. It ties up your energy in what you don’t want to happen. And it keeps you from discovering deeper insight into the situation.
Life is not about being “better” (or “worse”) than someone else; it’s about being who you are. It’s about accepting that life is a journey, that spiritual growth involves trying and failing, over and over, until you succeed.
And then you start the process all over again with something else.
Drop the Drama
Drama—unnecessary guilt or blame—does nothing to help the situation. You may have no outward control, but you are always free to choose your inner response.
Energy is the currency of the spirit. It allows us to create in this world. You are creating all the time, whether you realize it or not. Whatever result you want in the outer world needs to happen inwardly first.
If you focus your energy on struggle, or worry, or how things are not going your way, what are you creating? What do you want to create?
Just as the energy of the sun helps bring forth a tree from an acorn, your energy helps you create an outcome, through the focus of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Your values and beliefs are the energy behind your efforts. Listen to your deeper values.
Roll with It
Let go of your attachment to the immediate outcome. Of course, you care, but worrying about it keeps you stuck. It ties up your energy and focus.
Stay open and curious. Consider that there are bigger forces at work.
When you step back to look at the larger picture, it helps you see the context. Sometimes, there’s a difference between what you want to happen, and what needs to happen for your growth.
You are on a journey, with lots of twists and turns. Some events seem like setbacks at first, but in retrospect, you realize they were essential.
When all else fails, call your inner guide—and your compassion—home by practicing gratitude.
You have real blessings in your life. When you take the time to notice and appreciate them, your heart softens. And when your heart is less constricted, your mind is free to see what’s possible.
When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, gratitude is the attitude to set you free.
What are you grateful for?