Friday, August 22, 2014

Struggling not to struggle.........

I always pay close attention to what both myself and others are saying…..the actual words and phrases we are emitting…..for I believe strongly that they are clues not only to what is going on with us but also what to do about it.

Just lately both I and my fellow planetmates seems to be talking a lot about “struggles” and “struggling.”  It is an old familiar line for me.  For much of my life struggling was my default state.  I was always struggling with something or someone or some situation.  It was exhausting and frustrating.

Eventually through a sequence of many small and large events I came to understand that, when I heard the word “struggle” come out of my mouth, it was a huge red flag and a signal that there was something I needed to examine about my own attitude and something I needed to change in my own behavior.

What are you struggling with today?  Is it a situation that isn’t the way you want it to be?  Is it a person who isn’t doing what you think they should be doing?  Is it some fear about something that hasn’t happened yet?  Is it some event in the past that can never change (nothing in the past ever can) but still haunts you?  Do you feel as if there is no solution and no way out of this struggle you are engaged in?

When I examined what was happening to me in my struggles, I discovered some things that have helped me enormously ever since.  I pass them on to you.  Maybe you can add some of your own…..

First, if I am struggling I am engaging with someone or some situation.  Engaging is an action that I am taking.  It may feel as if I am drawn into the issue as if by a magnet but in fact, this is not so.  At some point, I made a decision to engage even if I did it almost automatically because it is what I have always done in similar situations.

If I have made a decision to engage, I can also make a decision not to engage.  Simple huh?  Simple but not easy.  However, awareness is the first step to changed behavior so just by becoming aware that we have done it again and engaged with something that results in a struggle, we have taken the first step towards changing our response next time.

Second, a struggle can only ensue if there are at least two parties taking part in it.  In fact, both sides have to agree to struggle or there cannot be a tussle.  By entering into this contract with the other person or situation we are agreeing to struggle and voila!.......struggle ensues. 

What if we were to not agree to the struggle?  What if we were to see this as a contract to be signed and decide not to sign it, not to be a party to the struggle?  There would be no struggle.

Third, I have noticed that at least for me, struggle comes with a physical manifestation.  When I am struggling, I tend to hold my breath and restrict my breathing.  Struggling take energy and I get breathless when I am struggling, even if it is only in my head. 

If we focus on our breath and take deep breaths, regulating and slowing down our respiratory  and heart rates struggle cannot continue.  Slow, deep breathing relates to peace and calm, not anxiety and struggle.  Using our breathing to detach from the struggle is a practical way to stay out of the storm.

Lastly, struggling can be addictive.  Some folks just seem to have to be always struggling with something.  Do you tend to resolve one struggle only to pick up another one?  How do you feel when you don’t have anything or anyone to struggle with?  Do you feel lost or useless or don’t know what to do?

Any habitual behavior can become an addiction.  We know we have crossed this line when we feel panic or anxiety when the particular thing is not in our lives and we reach instinctively for more.  We cope with addictions by recognizing that we have a problem and replacing the behavior with more healthy actions.

It is not necessary to struggle through life.  Of course we will have challenges and issues to be resolved but engaging them in a wrestling match that ends up with us exhausted and drained is not the way to deal with them.

I’d love to hear how you avoid struggle in your life and how you disengage with issues that are out of your control or may just take time to be resolved.

Let’s all quit engaging and vow to move through life refusing those invitations to struggle.

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