Beginning today I have made a commitment to land on the page five mornings a week for at least two hours. This morning I’m at the tail end of a cold that developed after an extended trip to Florida. Five days in the senior living center and two rides on that packed, germ-ridden flying machine. Not to mention, traveling without my usual arsenal of nutrient rich food. I didn’t stand a chance against the eau d’virus my husband was wearing when he dropped me off at the airport.
Now here I am, one week later, carrying a new determination to write on a daily basis before my work day begins. Before I start looking for distractions or allowing them in, before the socially acceptable morning phone time, and most importantly, before my mind is awake enough to sabotage my efforts.
As long as we’re on the topic, let’s talk about commitments. It conjures up lots of deep questions and ties a thread through my work this past week.
Recently I have been flooded with desperate cries for help from my dear clients who are feeling that someone else’s decision to change a commitment is unbearably upsetting. They feel betrayed, abandoned and rejected. This is mostly because matters of the heart are rarely dealt with rationally. The one who has the change of heart often acts out their need without proper communication, leaving the one who is not interested in change feeling shocked and betrayed.
We’ve all been there. I personally have tremendous compassion for anyone who is thrown into a state of unwelcome change, large or small.We know that it is our daily challenge to learn how to go with the flow. However, when someone else decides to change their commitment to us all bets are off. Our inner 3 year old flares up and a major tantrum ensues. The choice can be as large as ending a marriage or as small as communicating less or maybe even as heinous as leaving the dishes in the sink.
I focus on the brokenhearted folks on my couch and I listen to their thoughts and feelings. I teach them to offer love and acceptance to the part of them that is in need of extra care. Depending on the degree of change in their lives and the degree of reaction to that change, this phase can take minutes to months on end. Meanwhile, I gently mention that this unwanted shift may be the opportunity of a lifetime. They rarely buy it but I’m relentless. Then, slowly and gently, I mention that the opportunity I’m speaking about is to wake up to the possibility of making a new commitment. The best, most important, most powerful commitment of all. A commitment to yourself. Yes, to yourself, I say. They say, who is that? I say, therein lies the problem. Now we can get to work.
If we are honest, very honest with ourselves, we can hear the inner mumblings of our deepest truth. When we learn how to listen to this intuition we have the option of following it or not. When we follow it and commit to it, the entire universe is behind us. When we don’t, we’re left to our own devices and I know for myself, my own devices are more like vices than I might want to admit. If we live in a state in which we either don’t know or don’t listen to our intuition, we are betraying ourselves. I believe that this is both the most common and the most destructive form of betrayal. I also believe that it’s a process we all participate in to some degree or another. It’s like falling asleep on the job. It feels like a part of us, or maybe our whole self, becomes filled with an underlying, persistent ache that needs to be anesthetized. We employ our vices to do the numbing work. We use substances, food and unhealthy behaviors of all sorts, as well as patterns of thought. These habits set in so deeply that they can become unconscious. Then there we are, sort of living and sort of not. You know what I mean.
We can play this out as individuals or as couples or even as families. If everyone agrees to a vow of avoiding change at all costs then this unconscious state may last a lifetime. Ironically, those of us who are very fortunate are awakened by unwanted changes. If we embrace them as opportunities to commit to ourselves like never before, then we enter a supportive path that will lead us to shine much brighter, live more fully, and most importantly, give of ourselves with bigger and much more loving hearts.
Committing to my persistent urge to write has lead me to complete this piece. I’m hoping it is useful to you. I will continue to commit to my own navigating inner voice, scary as it may be. I know it’s not easy but I hope that you will too. We can do it together.