I am beginning to understand just how tied to outcomes I've been in my life. Previously, I saw myself as balanced in that regard - striving to do what I want and not feeling overly tied to how my choices turned out. Well, new realization: that was BALONEY.
I used to think my slow decision-making process (some might perceive as indecision) was taking the time to tune-in and know what is really right for me - not what other people might want me to do, or what I "should" do, but what I actually want to do. And, to my credit, some of it is. But after a time, when the process starts feeling taxing, it turns out that tuning-in part ends and my busy, worried mind takes over and simply goes into overdrive trying to psyche out what the outcome will be.
But there's no knowing what will be and so the process of trying to "know" in order to make a "right" decision only leads to insecurity.
To thrive, I'm going to have to give up my habit of trying to know what will happen, return to the only thing I can know (what feels right to me and what I want to do right now) and move on. Growth doesn't occur through external control. One plants a seed, waters, and waits. No amount of manipulation will do anything but disturb the natural process and integrity of what is to come.
Freedom doesn't come from doing something in order to secure a certain outcome, nor does it come from trying to escape anything. Freedom is a state of being in which the heart leads, the mind serves, and life naturally unfolds from that point of grace within ourselves in which we, like a seed, are compelled to reach up and out and break new ground. No particular outcome guaranteed - no particular outcome needed.
The other day I received a letter from my publisher letting me know that my book, VIOLET BING AND THE GRAND HOUSE, is going out of print due to decreased sales. And on that day, after reading the letter, I found myself in tears.
VIOLET BING took me about seven years to develop and see to its form as book. And as I wept and felt this sense of complete despair, I realized what a burden I had placed upon the shoulders of one small idea, one little gift I had wanted to give.
Unconsciously, I had held the expectation that the book might dismiss my own doubt about my ability to sustain something and see it flourish. But along with that hope was the anxiety that making this book might actually just affirm my greatest fears about myself: that I simply can't.
So when the letter arrived, all of that craziness came crashing down inside me. On my mind's movie screen I saw failure and then I felt the resulting feelings of taking that blow against myself. I imagined others seeing me and my work this way. And I wept in response. I blamed myself for letting it "die on the vine" and the cruel voice within used it as evidence in its argument for my inability.
I looked at my impending birthday with new, rotten eyes - now seeing it as a foreshadowing of a horrible year to come. And then, because I ultimately know better, I started to let the experience not just break me down, but open me up.
This life is my own. It's my creation - from the moment I cautiously made my first appearance on planet earth onward. It's my work of art and it's made of my choices. Regardless of experiences, achievements, pursuits, accolades or criticisms, the "success" of my life depends upon how I feel about it and myself. Which means it depends upon how I think about it.
Placing this emotional boulder upon the book and myself means that I have been investing my energies in trying to control outcomes in order to feel okay. And the sense of capability, thriving and flourishing that I've so wanted cannot come in that outside-in way.
When we are unkind to ourselves it is brutal and it slows and muddies the waters, bringing us to our knees as we keep fighting to be where we think we need to be, instead of allowing ourselves to flourish where we are and make our decisions free of fear. If we reject ourselves, it is impossible to see the growth, to see ourselves as flourishing and to witness the love that can sustain us and all that we do.
I am learning much here since the day - several years ago- I first showed up as a baby - and I will learn more. Here's to a new day, a new year, and the release of all that burdens our hearts and our heads. Happy Birthday.
From the Inside