Let's face it, things are not going as well as many of us would like right now in our country. Whatever "side" you fall on, whatever your beliefs, it's hard to deny that the struggles we face feel yucky. (Or maybe you don't feel that way at all, and in this case, you aren't paying attention. And that's certainly a thing that happens as well.)
The fact remains that issues are complicated and we aren't all that comfortable with sitting with layers. Black and white thinking is easier for us. But the world doesn't work that way. And neither do people. Sometimes more than one answer can actually be true. Which leaves us with the "stuck feeling" that we may be experiencing right now. Or maybe that is just me, and I can reframe:
I feel stuck right now.
It reminds me of taking both my LCSW and LICSW licensing exams. Those were really hard, as they were each very long, and extremely high stakes tests, the outcome of which had a direct impact on my future plans. However, they also followed three years of grad school where I only engaged in paper writing (fun) and presentations (less fun, but totally manageable). Anyway, allow me to elaborate on the idea that these exams feel a lot like the challenges of society right now.
Many questions on these licensing exams involved a potentially real scenario, with many unique elements, needs and options for supporting the individual, people or situation. Often each answer provided was 'right'. Meaning that one could reasonably justify any of the possible courses of action to help aid the situation. However, only one of the choices was considered the best thing to do, or alternatively (depending on what the question asked), the first thing to do.
As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (yes, I passed), I feel this way a lot. Society and culture is not not black and white. People's lives are not black and white. Problems people face are not black and white. Solutions are not black and white. There is not a clear linear process, as so much depends on other variables, and sometimes we just... falter. Or new environmental circumstances arise that can cause dramatic shift to our perspective or to the path itself.
Our internal worlds can be very messy places to live. Our outer world is messy too.
If we can all agree in the truth of this last statement then I propose we can come to an agreement on something with the potential to be profoundly helpful:
We control whether or not we allow ourselves to suffer.
We have the ability to choose whether or not we linger in our attachment to pain. We can be aware of our pain, and we have a choice in how we respond to that pain. The difference between pain and suffering may seem simplistic or maybe even a bit "out there", but I promise if you marinate in this concept and really practice noticing your own life, things will change.
Consider committing to cultivating a practice of mindful awareness. All that is necessary is just noticing without judgment what our thoughts are, how we feel about these thoughts and then how we behave.
Just becoming aware of the intersectional relationship between thoughts, feelings and actions allows us a to experience a special kind of freedom. It doesn't mean we always enjoy the thoughts, feelings and actions we engage in, but it invites us to take a closer look at what is holding us back and sit with it. Decide what to do next with more intention, less attachment and far less suffering.
Give it a thought, see how it feels, notice what happens next.
Let's keep on this path...!
More insights to come, up next: The role of *connection* in enhancing this...