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The Wheel Keeps Turning
If you have not read the first three parts of this challenge I encourage you to do so, they can be found in posts 1, 2, and 3. Here’s the thing about life, just when you have it all figured out it turns up something new, or something old. This challenge series ends here, with building connection, but but it never really ends. We have spent the last few weeks attempting to become more mindful of the relationship we have with the stuff in our lives, and that won’t end here.
Waking up and paying attention is just the first step. From here we have to stay awake, we have to continue to pay attention, we have to continue to think and act and ponder. We have to be intentional about building connection in our lives with people, causes, and traditions we care about. It won’t happen on it’s own, we have to build it.
In the coming weeks you may want to walk through these challenge posts again in other areas of your life. Maybe it’s time to clear out the attic, or the garage. Maybe you’ve really had a breakthrough and want to get rid of that storage unit and all the bagged inside it. Each space is likely to have it’s own challenges and hangups. So go slowly, don’t rush. There is no need to finish tomorrow. You may find that you hold on to stuff in all areas of your life for the same reason. You might find in one place all sorts of new and strange things bubble to the surface.
It goes without saying that in our world stuff will continue to come into your life. And it is almost certain that you’ll need to redo this process on a semi regular basis. But if we become more intentional about how things enter our lives the need to remove it will become less. We can, through hard work, become more careful about what we acquire, we can become more aware of our impulses and direct them into more healthy avenues.
Forgive yourself when you fail
What is virtually guaranteed, because you and I are human, is that we’re going to fail. We are going to fall down and find ourselves if not
back in the same place, at least one that feels pretty close to it. And that is ok. Beating ourselves up because we are flawed, finite human beings doesn’t help anything; it tends to make things worse. So be your own best friend and ally: forgive yourself when you fail. When the stuff creeps in and you find yourself numbing with stuff, or falling back on old habits, take a deep breath and refuse to pass judgement. Forgive yourself, it’s the best gift you can give.
And then start over, right where you are. Go back to your journal and work out what’s going on, go talk to your therapist, call up your girlfriend and talk it out, sit down with your lover and have a good frustrated cry. Make friends with the broken and painful parts of your life, it’s the only way to get them back along the path to healing and wellness. Know that this will happen, and know that it’s OK. It is all a chance for us to love ourselves, learn more about ourselves, and practice forgiveness. A wise man once said that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And what usually gets forgotten in that phrase is that we have to love ourselves if it’s to mean anything. If you hate yourself then you won’t be much good at loving others.
So forgive yourself, and start over. There’s no failure in that, so long as we get back up and get going again then we’re still on the right track.
Keep learning, keep moving forward
Every single time we encounter a setback, or open a new box full of stuff (literal or metaphorical) we’re given a new chance to learn. We never finish learning so long as we’re alive. So set a date with yourself for six months in the future, or three months, whatever feels right. Sit down and see what you’ve learned by living with this exercise for that time. Take the opportunity to find out more, do some reading, talk with friends. Try building connection with like minded folks and supporting one another going forward. We are always learning but we can do it the hard way or the “easy” way.
Put another way: we can be intentional about our learning, or we can keep walking into walls in the dark and learning where they are by our bruises. I would rather spend some time finding a lantern, and a guide, and avoiding quite so many bumps and bruises along the way. In my challenge I discovered that some, but not all, of my extra crap was standing in for closeness with people I loved. I could judge myself for that, or feel hopeless. Or I can set about learning how to better stay connected to the people in my life. I can acknowledge an area of my life that I’m not an expert at (hah!) and go find people who are to learn from.
What about you? What will you take away and what do you hope to keep going from this challenge? Let’s support one another as we keep going forward.