A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive. “I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived.”
How many times have we been in situations where accommodating to a specific flow was something we resisted, making our trek during that experience potentially much more stressful and challenging? This was how I lived life for years; feeling like I was paddling upstream with only one paddle. I so desperately wanted situations to be how I wanted them to be and felt so frustrated if the experience wasn’t within a reach of my expectations. I learned that living life from that place of expectations can be summarized in just one word – CONTROL also known as an illusion thus making one delusional thinking we can gain control.
Growing up in a family impacted by alcoholism left me fighting for control in an attempt to feel in control. The modeling I observed in my family was that you controlled anything and everything that you could or you at least you gave it your all trying to! Needless to say, I learned early on that life was about gaining control. And that became a harsh and painful lesson for me to break because I realized what I truly wanted was to experience those things that mattered to me – serenity and love.
Through doing my own work and being placed in situations that kept reminding me of this lesson, I’ve found ways to let go of the need to be in control. Yet I am aware that attempts to control will be something that I will revisit if I move away from self-awareness and living the steps to go with the flow of life. That stinking thinking that I can possibly control something will rear its ugly head and then my best self is not what others will see.
These past few months my life has been impacted with sudden changes both personally and professionally. Changes that I had no idea were going to happen or what the outcome would end up like. And to top it off, depending on how the situations played out, I could be significantly impacted or not.
As co-workers talked about their anxiety with pending changes at work my thought was “I’m just going to see how it plays out.” Did that come out of MY mouth? Wow! Maybe I have truly grown in this area of trusting the process of life no matter what.
As I was walking through some professional changes, some personal changes manifested. So I decided to take the same stance. In the past I would’ve been consumed with anxiety and stress, trying to figure out how I could “control” the situation. That would’ve been fueled by nonsense chatter in my head, sleepless nights, and energy spent trying to figure out how I could determine the outcome before it was time. Another awareness of something that was different in both of these situations was this sense within that everything was going to be OK no matter what – that I WOULD BE OK! I literally had no idea the impact both situations would have on me but I had this peace inside and that was all I needed.
Life tends to bring us to the lessons we need to learn and all we need to do is be open to the experiences. These past few months have provided opportunities for me to experience a much deeper meaning of “turning it over” to my HP. This is what I call building faith and living with hope!