Let’s say I have a habit of misplacing my keys. I just carry them around in my pocket when I go out of the house and there isn’t a “home” where they should return to when I come home — I just set them down on whatever surfaces are available, from the kitchen table to the shoe rack. So I spend a lot of time looking for my keys and experience frustration.
The lesson I need to learn here may seem obvious, but I’m so distracted with everything else in life and I don’t stop to think. So I keep creating the situation where misplacement is likely to happen, because I’m not aware of the underlying cause or that there is a lesson to be learned here.
Life is a bit like a patient teacher who keeps reciting the lines you need to memorize. Even if I don’t know that memorizing is the point here, or how memorizing is going to help me. The same lesson, the same opportunities to learn the lesson, will keep showing up, until I learn it.
I believe that many of us develop these habits or patterns. And on the surface it may seem mean and grating, to have to face the same misfortune over and over again. But what may appear as unlucky isn’t luck at all, and the system is built so that there is no advancing unless I really learn the lesson. This school won’t excuse me and allow me to advance to the next grade when I flunk the test. Because it knows that ultimately that will be a disservice.
Now, the key example is a bit obvious, but here’s a real-life one from my life. I keep demanding more activities from my life than I have time for. It’s a bit like having a container but I’m trying to stuff more into it than it can hold. The “stuff” I’m trying to put in do squeeze to some extent, but when I do they are a little worse off, and I don’t really enjoy the experience.
I know in concept that it’s better to do fewer things well. And I keep trying to reduce my “things,” even if I have desires to do some of them. (And others I have to keep even though I don’t want to) But the overall experience has been overwhelming. That state feels normal to me, so in rare occasions when I don’t have an overwhelming amount of things to do, I find more so I can feel normal!
I’ve learned many things in life but this one has been confounding me for years. My studio is a reflection of the same thing, a tiny space with more stuff than I have room for, so it’s a strong pattern that permeates more than one areas of my life. And dealing with it on the surface may help a little but I eventually return to the same pattern.
What I’m learning is that these patterns are rooted deeper in your psyche, and moving stuff around in shallower areas only provide temporary relief, if at all. There is an underlying emotional signature to such patterns and it’s formed an internal block that’s preventing me from changing from the bottom up. My coach Tom Volkar introduced me to Michael Brown’s The Presence Process, which explains how our emotions work. When I have stuck emotions they form a blockage that prevents me from growing in certain areas, which leads to patterns that create more occasions where I have the opportunities to feel those very emotions.
Through The Presence Process I am going through a series of rituals designed to unhinge and feel these emotions, so I finally become capable of learning these lessons. The key is to identify these stuck feelings and feel them unconditionally. You can’t process the feeling and get it unstuck when you face it with resistance, thinking I shouldn’t have to feel this way.
So when unpleasant stuff happens, I get less upset now. I am learning to ask “what’s good about this that I don’t yet see?” And don’t try to find the answer — let the answer come to me. If there are uncomfortable feelings there, it’s more opportunities for me to get unstuck. But even if I don’t get it and feel the feelings then, that’s not a huge problem, either — life will continue bringing up the same opportunity over and over, until I learn it. Anyway I look at it, the system is set up so it’s very difficult to live a life without learning and growing. So it’s best to surrender and soak up the lessons. Resistance is futile.