By now, we’re catching on: a life in crisis can be a fantastic teacher. There’s nothing like a complete reset to wipe you clean, right? As you are dumped on your butt, you have no choice but to look around and reach for solutions. Which is how a lot of lessons get learned.
Yet … at the same time … what if a gentler sort of lesson-learning was available to each of us all the time, every day?
What if you really could look up from whatever is troubling you in the moment, and find the lesson staring back at you? What if your everyday troubles, themselves, were your finest teachers?
Yet, those lessons don’t always just jump up and present themselves in clear and easy terms. Sometimes you have to work for them.
A friend was struggling with a relationship issue in her job as a first responder. It was a beautiful spring day as we walked and talked around Lake Merritt, but she was angry and fed up with her job.
I could hear that an old belief was keeping her stuck, that she couldn’t own her feelings in the workplace. Somehow she thought she had to be a strong, capable, “together” woman all the time, 24.7. When I asked her what she’d say if she could say anything to her crew, she was silent.
Somehow my friend believed that unlike the rest of us, first responders aren’t allowed to have feelings even when they’re not in emergency mode. And yet, as we walked and talked, her emotions were right there.
“What do you need?” I finally asked her.
She paused for a moment and looked out at the lake. “I think I need to be vulnerable at work, and talk about what’s bothering me.”
When we allow them, our emotions can be arbiters of real change in our lives. It’s really very simple, but oh how we try to avoid this simple truth. We don’t want to feel our damn feelings –- and yet, they are the most direct path to the wisdom inherent in each crisis.
This is not to say we have to lash out, pound our fist and raise our voice. We can practice our words ahead of time, and deliver ‘right speech’ as the Buddhists so beautifully put it.
We can also make requests instead of shrill demands … and we can keep on politely making them until our issue is resolved. (And okay, a little more force may need to be used occasionally, but only after all else fails.)
Note: I’m not just talking about anger here. Sometimes what another person needs to hear is that we are scared. Or sad. Or that we simply need a pat on the back and a little support.
Wherever you are today, and whatever is bothering you, allow yourself to surrender to your feelings. Even if they take you to uncomfortable places you assume you’d rather not visit. Your emotions are happening for a reason. And they are simply God’s way of taking you more deeply into life.
There is no good reason to resist, no matter what you were told about your feelings when you were young.
And, as ever, enjoy responsibly!