This isn’t going to be full of a bunch of sweet quotations and 10 steps for how to think like a champion. Because this is not that.
If you’re going through something that feels like it just might kill you, or has already killed off parts of you, this is for you.
I see you here in this tough place, this place that is your life right now. I see that this is HOW your life is right now, messy, complicated, tedious, exhausting. I see that you have not had a real smile or a real laugh in longer than you can remember. I see you in so much pain. I see you wondering if you will ever be okay again.
I see you here. You are not invisible. You are not forgotten.
I see you here.
And I’m certain that you wish you were somewhere else.
And you TRY to be somewhere else, don’t you? Because you know all of the ways to numb, to check-out, to avoid, to pretend. I know those ways too.
This is really so hard, isn’t it?
I know you wish you were not going through what you are going through, but you are. You wish you were somewhere else, doing something else. Just about anything else. This is not the place that you ever would have chosen to be.
And it doesn’t matter how you got here – you are here.
You are here, in this place, going through something you definitely don’t want to be going through.
…and this place…
this PLACE you’re in…
is exactly that, A PLACE.
It is not WHO YOU ARE … it is WHERE YOU ARE.
…and it’s true that sometimes this fire you’re in is so hot that it feels like WHO you are and WHERE you are are getting melted into one big heavy chunk of lead….and you can’t tell one from the other.
…and it makes your life feel like it’s too heavy to move and that you may not ever get out of here, it’s just too heavy to move.
But the truth is. This is WHERE you are…not WHO YOU ARE.
So…now that we’ve got that straight…
Let yourself get angry for a minute, or sad, or however you are really feeling. This has been so hard! You get to feel however you feel.
Take a deep breath and sit for a moment and just think about where you’re at and what it’s been like for you, what it is like for you now, and what it takes to just get through the day.
What has it been like for you. It’s been hard, hasn’t it?
I get it. And it’s really great that I get it…but YOU NEED TO GET IT. You need to allow yourself to tell yourself how hard this has been. And also tell yourself what a big task you’ve accomplished to make it through this far. I know it’s scary to think about feeling it, admitting it, putting it to words….sometimes we think if we don’t admit it, maybe it won’t be true.
You might even think that if you finally admit it, that it will start a fire inside of you that will burn you alive. And if you admit to others, it might catch them on fire too.
But there’s magic in saying it, feeling it and admitting it. What you’re really doing when you allow yourself to tell the truth about what this has been like for you, is you are draining it of it’s paralyzing poison.
So…just take a moment and tell yourself how hard this has been…
…and then I promise we will move on…. Ready, set, go….close your eyes and tell yourself.
This has been so hard. So hard that you didn’t think you’d make it – and maybe you still don’t know how you will ever keep going.
Give yourself a pat on the back. This really has been so hard.
Now, friend, let’s take a step forward.
I just want to share something that I’ve learned with you.
In this place of WHERE YOU ARE, and not WHO YOU ARE,
WHERE you are
can actually MAKE YOU MORE of
WHO YOU ARE…..
Ok…take another deep breath. Don’t get mad yet! Don’t roll your eyes yet! This really isn’t going to be a bunch of avoidant and bypassing platitudes about thinking positive and counting your blessings. I know this time in your life seems so much bigger and more of a disaster than those things could ever handle…even if those things have worked for you in the past.
This is a tough time. This is a time that feels like it might just break you. Some days it feels like THIS IS IT, doesn’t it? It feels like the year that IS finally going to break you.
But just hear me out.
Where you are REALLY CAN make you more of who you are.
IT ALREADY IS.
WHERE YOU ARE IS ALREADY MAKING YOU MORE OF WHO YOU ARE.
NO matter where you are.
No matter how you got there.
Here’s what’s true about that… it is almost always at least partially in your control how you grow from what you’re going through, how you transform inside of where you are….
It’s also true that not making the choice to try to steer how it will happen, as much as you can, can put you on some detours to some OTHER places that you don’t want to be….
BUT EVEN THEN, those will still just be places.
Those will still be WHERE YOU ARE and not WHO YOU ARE.
You will never find yourself in a place that does not have the potential to grow you.
I know some of you want to punch me in the throat right now. Saying something so flippant while you’re suffering to get through the day. Just stay with me, okay? And please just know that I do know what it’s like to want to punch someone in the throat when they’re telling me that I’m going to grow so much from this hell I’m walking through.
Often when I’m speaking or teaching, one of the first questions I will ask everyone is…
“Who here is an expert at something that you never signed up to learn and never really wanted to learn?”
Just about everyone raises their hand, breathing dramatic sighs of exhaustion or maybe relief as they think about what it took to become an expert at whatever life handed them, or is still handing them.
And that is the gift of going through things that we don’t want to go through. That is the gift of climbing mountains that we never wanted to climb. That is the gift of swimming deep and stormy waters that we never wanted to be in. We become experts. We become warriors. We become teachers.
But let’s not talk about that now… let’s talk about what it’s like when you’re there, going through what you don’t want to be going through. Let’s talk about some of the ways we can take another breath.
And I’m going to assume that you’re there right now, or you’re trying to help someone who is there right now, or you just got out of being there. Otherwise you probably wouldn’t be here, reading this. And… if you’re in the fortunate place of being between life lessons, I bow to you. I celebrate you for making it to the other side of where you were. Make sure you make the most of this rest time because as you know, there’s probably another new lesson right around the corner. Before you know it, you’ll be in a situation you wish you weren’t in, and you’ll find yourself having to figure it out – and then… you’ll find yourself growing through it.
I want to give you some ideas to take some of the weight off of this time in your life, I want to help you find some joy and some peace, but I want you to really listen first, okay?
JUST GETTING THROUGH THIS TIME IN YOUR LIFE IS A MASSIVE TASK. It is something to congratulate yourself for. Please don’t put too much pressure on yourself right now to do more than just get through the day as well as you can. Know that everything you’re doing each day to get through, is enough. It is okay. It is good. You are good.
But let’s also ask the question…how do you get through this time in your life and have it grow you and not kill you?
Well, first…you’ve got to see what a big deal it is that you just took another breath. Your first job is to breathe. Literally. And your job is to see how important that job is right now. Your job is to see that even breathing is hard. WANTING to breathe is hard. Your job is first to breathe, and second to want to breathe. Your most important job is to just take another breath. And that is no small thing. It takes a LOT of work. Pat yourself on the back and just focus on taking the next breath. I am so grateful that you are alive and breathing in this place. Good job.
And now I will tell you the best way I know to grow through what you are going through. In the simplest terms….it is to choose light. What do I mean by that? Well, first you have to remind yourself about what light is and even more importantly, what darkness is. Because sometimes it feels like the darkness will swallow you up, doesn’t it? But it’s a trick. Because darkness is nothing more than an area where there is no light. Darkness is literally a lack of light.
So when times are tough and everything feels dark, it’s miraculous how introducing even the tiniest spark of light will change everything.
So what brings “light” into life? Well, for me, it is the true things. The sure things. And sometimes those seem really few and far between. Sometimes the only thing that feels like a sure thing is that the sun will rise and it will be in the sky all day, and then it will set. But there are other sure things. If you can look around and name the sure things, somehow this illuminates your path a little. Things as simple as…trees are alive, babies are beautiful, I hear my breath going in and out, grass is green, roses smell good…
I know it sounds too simple to make a difference, but every true thing – every sure thing brings another spark of light. And when life feels wobbly, the true things give us something solid to hold on to while we are figuring out what else is a sure thing.
And it’s okay that some things aren’t sure things. It’s okay that some things were true once and aren’t true anymore. Everything alive is always on its way to becoming something else. This is true for you, too. Many of the things that used to be true about you have changed, and now new things are true about you. YOU GET TO CHANGE. YOU GET TO GROW. YOU GET TO BECOME even more of who you are.
So, while you’re figuring out what is true about life, what is true about you, what is a sure thing – it’s also okay to rest in soft glow of almost-darkness as tiny sparks of truth illuminate this new place you are in. The lack of light isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes that’s where you will get the deepest rest. Just know that it won’t swallow you up. You can choose little sparks of light, one after another, until it’s bright and vivid again. As soon as you’re ready. I’ve found that music, dancing, creating, connecting, learning and laughing will light a place up in no time – but not unless I’m ready for it. When you’re going through hard things, sometimes a dim light is better for a while until you get stronger. And this is all okay.
I have just one more thing to say about what you’re going through right now. When you’re up at 3am, and you think no one knows you are up worrying and thinking and suffering – and you don’t know how you are going to make it….just know there are lots of us. You are not alone. I am going to start thinking of you at 3am and sending you love. So now you know for sure that you are not alone. And, if you’re reading this now, maybe you could commit to thinking of the others up in the middle of night trying to figure out how they’ll get through tomorrow. If we all did this, we’d all know that we are not alone.
You are growing through this.
You are learning through this.
You are becoming more of who you are through this.
You are going to get to the other side of this, and I am certain that you will emerge with a bright lantern in your hand and a willing resolve to go and light the paths of others just enough so that they can see their own ability to light their path.
You are going to be okay.
I love you,