Photo by Simón Pais-Thomas
Editor’s Note: I have only one word to summarize how I felt after editing this story from Kate: Wow. Don’t miss this powerful piece. And help me welcome Kate to the TSN family.
By Kate Swoboda
“The problem is not that there are problems.
The problem is expecting otherwise and
thinking that having problems is a problem.”
Confession: Lately, for the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been capital-U, “Unhappy.”
Plain. Simple. Unhappy.
Revolutionary insight? This does not need “fixing.”
It’s interesting to notice all the impulses to resist the Unhappy in life, as if the human experience were destined to be one devoid of suffering.
The messages are all around us that if we’re unhappy, we’re “doing it wrong.” So quick! Go buy something, do something different, take some kind of action, to make it all better.
Nope–I’m hunkered down with it, now. Unhappy and I are hanging out, chilling like a villain, asking what’s the haps with the craps.
The thing is, there hasn’t been anything too complex or complicated about this installment of Unhappy. It hasn’t been due to a core wound. There’s no darkness to ferret out. I even know what triggered Unhappy:
1) A running injury that forced me to be essentially immobile for several weeks has been a real challenge. I’ve been missing my exercise-induced serotonin boost.
2) Knowing that I need to back off of working quite so much, yet feeling the ever-common fear of “If I slacken the reigns and don’t work as hard, all the work that I have done will be for naught.”
These could best be summarized as:
Even simpler? Insisting on control = Unhappy.
It occurred to me that there might be a gift in all of this for others–the gift of exposure and vulnerability.
Here’s the thing: I’ve had more than a few experiences where, when I “out” myself as imperfect, the response to that is for someone else to use that to feel smug, better-than me, or more put-together.
Perhaps they even tell others that “Kate isn’t really who you think she is” because they’ve been privy to my struggles or they’ve seen some inconsistency show up between my vision for my life and my actions on a particular day.
This is exactly why we tend not to get vulnerable and why we hesitate to claim or accept our imperfections. We’re afraid of this response.
When I’ve had this experience of someone mis-interpreting (or outright mis-using) my transparent admissions that Yeah, I still experience fear, or Yeah, sometimes I don’t feel enough, or Yeah, I get frustrated when my business doesn’t perform the way I want it to, I have a few choices.
YOU have a few choices:
You can run back into yourself and hide, duly chastened and embarrassed, and go back to the exhausting role of “I’ve got it all together.”
You can take a deep breath, and sink even more deeply into whatever your truth is in that moment, even if your truth is that you’re not on-point.
The Most Powerful Parts of Us
The most powerful part of who I am, and of who you are, is actually not the part where I’m “put-together.”
The most powerful part of who we are is where we accept that within us which is “falling apart.” Being no-bullshit honest about being an imperfectly perfect human being creates such an enormous expanse of freedom.
That level of honesty is core-shaking. It’s freedom from the Stories about ourselves and freedom from what others think.
It’s the space where compassion begins when others judge, for the empty endeavor of using someone else’s low to fuel their own artificial high.
Your truth–even if it’s a miserable one–becomes powerful when you embrace it. Own it fully.
The great paradox is that when we embrace the things that are difficult, the things that are difficult have the space for actual change [Click Here to Tweet this].
Note: You can’t “pretend embrace.” I can’t make this declarative statement about embracing my Unhappy to manipulate my way out of the Unhappy, to fast track my way to some other feeling state. I can just keep coming back to any place where I notice myself not wanting to accept it, and breathing with that, and being with that.
When something is ready to transform, it transforms.
Last Stop: Your Job
It’s my job to own where I’m at, and to accept where I’m at. It’s other people’s jobs to own where they are at, and to accept where they are at.
So really–It’s actually not anyone else’s job to accept you, so that you can be okay with you.
Translation: It doesn’t do much good to try and wait for everyone else to be okay with our truth before we’ll expose our truth. Waiting for that moment keeps you trapped in the hell of caring about what other people think.
Waiting for other people to approve, first, is a form of wanting other people to create safety for you, but only you create safety in your life. Safety starts and ends within you.
That’s why I’m willing to expose myself, to share honestly that in this moment, as of writing this, the Unhappy has been at times a background buzz, and at times akin to despair.
Don’t know where it will be in five minutes, don’t know where it will be in five days–but this is where I am, right now.
I stand before you, open and vulnerable, yet grounded in my truth. It’s the safest place to be.
Today’s Tweetable: When we embrace the things that are difficult, the things that are difficult have the space for actual change. ←Click to tweet.
About the Author:
Kate Swoboda is a life coach, speaker and writer who specializes in courage. You can learn more about her at YourCourageousLife.com, where she writes about courageous living, integrity, and ferocious love. Life Coaches can check out her resources for business and leveraging your practice over at YourCourageousBlueprint.com
Related Articles on Imperfect:
- Finding Beauty in the Imperfections
- The Illusion of Control
- What I Learned About Fear – Reflections on Colorado Theater Shooting
- How to Change Your Life
- How to Ignite Personal Change
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