“Pain in this life is not avoidable, but the pain we create avoiding pain is avoidable.” - R.D. Laing
We finally have reached our holiday break from school. I have been looking forward to time with the kids, and nothing to do and nowhere to go. I had all of these plans to relax and take a break from the constant running around. And yet, I find myself unable to sit, and do the things I say I love to do. It’s almost as if I miss the chaos of running around everywhere. But I don’t. What gives?
There was a time years ago that I used to feed off a constant need for chaos. Yet, if you would have asked me back then, I would have defiantly denied such a fact. Ironically, I thought that was the last thing I needed, because it was bringing so much pain. I wanted to get away from the chaos. Then everything would be better.
Yet, I would keep doing the same actions that resulted in the same outcome. I never changed who I surrounded myself with, where I hung out, how I spent my time or even my thought patterns. So, how could I possibly expect to not keep ending up in the same messes?
It is a cycle, hard to break.
We are very habitual creatures. We can easily get into ruts, into habits, without any awareness. There are thousands of books, gurus and all sorts of resources promising to have the secret to breaking a habit and freeing us from the parts of us that give us the most challenge.
However, more often than not, we end up right back where we started, except more frustrated and disappointed. How does the chaos, the insanity, keep finding us?
In reality, often without knowing it, we are the ones finding the chaos.
I have developed the awareness over the years that I can’t simply stop something and expect an immediate change. My body and brain resist. A lot. So, instead, I have to replace it with the same determination and frequency that I practiced what I so desire to remove.
And going back to the times in my life that I have felt in a deep rut, I had to replace whatever person, place or thing that I felt was causing so much grief, with something else. I had to find new confidants, new social outings, and new activities. Sometimes it wasn’t always a perfect fit, but it kept me from the truly unhealthy chaos from which I desperately needed to be removed.
We have to ask ourselves what underlying purpose is the chaos serving for us? What does it give us?
There is always a fair amount of conscious effort and awareness that goes into changing our behavior to start experiencing different outcomes. Often we have to address difficult truths. We may have to face the uncomfortable reality of the chaos we do have, and what it does for us. If it didn’t bring us something, do something for us, we would have no interest in it to begin with.
And because of this benefit, no matter how destructive, we have to understand we can’t simply take it away without replacing it with something else that is a healthier way to get what we get from the chaos we seek to remove. The gap needs to be filled, and if we don’t consciously decide with what we fill our time, our thoughts, our energy, it will be decided for us, most likely with the known. We do what we know, and until we change what we know (our known), we don’t do any differently.
And although the ruts aren’t the same or as deep as they were for me back then, I need to apply the same to my life now. I still have a need to constantly be on the go, volunteering, doing something. I feel a gap in my productivity, my worth - in myself - if I am not constantly creating, doing, going. There is a part of me that is lost as to my next step because my kids are entering a different stage. It hurts, it’s scary and I don’t have to address it when I’m constantly on the run. I’m relying on the craziness of kids, family, work and home to make me feel whole. And yet, I feel so drained at the end of it all.
Something is not working.
I need to slowly start replacing some of the crazy-making with things that are soul-feeding. No one can make these decisions for me, and this is where I need to listen for that inner voice that knows just what to release; what component of life just isn’t working. I need to face the difficult truths, and it is then that I can break through my need for the chaos.
And slowly but surely, I can replace what is chaotic with what brings calm. Sitting, breathing – these are still action words. They are still things I can be doing, and yet, nevertheless be encompassed by stillness. For me, this is the path forward; the path to the next right thing. It is the direction to getting one step closer to being content in any moment with myself, and with life, just as it is. (One step closer on what I am realizing is a very long journey…)