Life, as it is, appears in front of us moment to moment. We all have trouble accepting reality. We enjoy parts of life and hate other parts. We grieve and are afraid and angry. We overflow with joy and wonder. The experiences of life are rich and nuanced. We can influence some things and most things are out of our control.
Like a two year old, at times we mightily resist reality by throwing an internal tantrum. Like a more mature adult, we cultivate the capacity to stay present with reality as it is. Some things we are able to let in and experience as they go by. Others are more difficult because they trigger a nervous system response. We cling to what we want and reject what we don’t.
In an attempt to get some ground under our feet, we develop a fundamental resistance to life as it actually is. We can’t win when we argue with reality. It takes a lot of energy to maintain denial or block awareness of what is. When we have trouble accepting what is actually here, we find a way to avoid and disconnect to minimize being hurt. This is a pattern we can change.
If my partner would stop drinking, I would be okay.
We should respect each other and get along. I am shocked at how some people think. We need to fix this!
Children are going to bed hungry. We should do something!
People should mask at school. How can I send my kids into this danger?
It is true that fixing our everyday life and outside world would resolve many of our frustrations and fears because it would calm our nervous system. It is also true that inner acceptance of reality will give us space to see what we have stored inside and to resolve our fears.
Practice with ordinary circumstances that cause a reaction, like getting angry when someone ahead of us is driving slower than the speed limit. What are the thoughts in your mind? What tools can you use in that moment to come back into a calmer more regulated nervous system? When someone is driving too fast, there is a danger. When someone is driving slower, we are more likely to be annoyed than afraid. Someone isn’t doing what we think they should. We can’t make them change. We are going to have a response to feeling powerless, so it gives us an opportunity to inquire into that. We can take the opportunity to be kind and not shame ourselves. We can change the experience by changing our response.
What are some of the downsides of resisting reality? We can’t effectively protect ourselves from what we can’t allow ourselves to see. We know the truth on some level and live with a pervasive feeling of dread and anxiety about the future. We lose authentic connection when we manipulate others to please us. We disconnect from ourselves and others and can’t fully engage in life, Suppression and resistance saps energy we could use for living fully.
Take a few deep breaths and let your body relax. We are more than any of the experiences in our life. We are the experiencer of what is happening.
I continue to strengthen my willingness to surrender to the reality of the moment.