She was distraught. You did not have to be Sherlock Holmes to sense it. Scratching around her blue plate with the tines of her fork, it was clear that something was on her mind. Up to this moment, she'd been relishing her butternut ravioli with gusto, savoring every morsel in the candlelight of the celebratory dinner. It was not hard to know this as so, with all her "ooohs and ahhhhs." But then, but then, something came onto her virtual radar screen that stopped her in her tracks, sending her into an unknown labyrinthe. Without the benefit of latitude and longitude, it was not possible to track where she'd gone, even though her body was still in its chair.
You know me. I had to ask. What was it that had interrupted her so abruptly, halting delight that was delighting us all? Calling her back with the question "Where did you go?" she responded, "I can't go on eating like this forever." "Why?" I wondered. A beautiful, statuesque woman with a glorious build, I could not imagine what would be the problem. Then, out it came. "If I let myself keep eating this way, there would be no end to it," she said, with dilating pupils, and a saddened look around her eyes and mouth.
It was then that I recognized a nearly universal syndrome that many of us humanoids schlep around in our invisible backpacks, so loaded with limited beliefs and self-condemning thoughts. The malady is something I'll call joy "abruptis interuptis." You might recognize it, if not in yourself, then at least, in others. The "condition" is known to escalate into a crescendo, reaching its yearly zenith sometime around New Year's Eve. On the stroke of midnight, for those who still make New Year's resolutions, there is the opportunity to transform regret into new promises that we will "do better" this next year. And, even if you don't make resolutions anymore, realizing that the vast majority are abandoned by February, you might recognize the following.
Here's the pattern. There you are humming along in your life, minding your own business. Then, as if from nowhere, some heretofore hidden delight comes into the moment, into the experience before you, and you find yourself captivated. Perhaps it is a special dish or stranger who notices you. Perhaps it is an unanticipated invitation to expand your game. Whatever it is, you find the endorphins surging through your system, pleasure rising with each moment, and maybe even an increased pulse. You are there. You are smack in the middle of full-on joy and freedom. Maybe it lasts a minute, a month, a year. Time varies with the individual. Then, without a warning, another part of you yanks your cord, whispers silently in your ear, "not so fast, buddy. If you keep going this way, this could lead to trouble. Big trouble! Stop while you have a chance! Warning! Warning! What were you thinking? You cannot be trusted. This will run away with you to who-knows-where?"
What's going on here? Very simply put: We do not trust our instincts. We forget we are hard-wired for well-being and success. To justify that such forbidden pleasure cannot be trusted, we revert to episodes in past history where we "blew it." What we do not do is look to the other side of the ledger: those times, big and small, when following our instinct led to amazing demonstrations that our intuition is working on our behalf! Isn't it interesting that we collect evidence to support the fact that we have made bad choices, but do not serve ourselves by jotting down demonstrations of "well-dones" The former, we believe, is "responsible," the latter, we tend to see as arrogant.
If there is one thing I know for certain, it is this. There is a teleological function to the psyche, to that deepest part of the human soul that is always pushing for well-being, if we cultivate a listening heart to what our deepest wisdom is telling us in the silence. It never fails us, if we heed it. This wisdom place does not threaten, does not scare, but conveys the message that we can trust it. It brings a calm, reassuring balm with its message. It tells us to let go our driving, our "efforting," our striving, our endless endeavors to contort ourselves into something we are not. This is the wisdom place that tells us to enjoy the moment, the sweet spots. If we have grown dry, it suggests rest. If we are starving for what nourishes our heart and soul, it says "receive." If we are lost, it says: "Stand still, stand still. Let the forest find you." In its presence, we are never alone, regardless outer conditions. Heeding its guidance demonstrates that our good is seeking us, as surely as we are seeking It.
The moment self-doubt enters, all we need do is return to what I call "the root cellar." (More on this in the next weeks.) For now, let's just think of the R.C. as the place of our innermost center. All we need do is center ourselves and ask for guidance. Sometimes, an answer comes sooner than later. Always, though, it comes in unexpected ways. To name just one: Two weeks ago, while enmeshed in unpacking boxes in our new place, I was battling the demon of "Should we have really moved here?" Downsizing nearly 1,400 square feet, the "letting go" process was getting to me. So, in practicing returning to my center, I asked to be shown some "evidence" that we were in the right place. (We had moved here based on instinct.) Directly after meditating, I decided to find the trash shute, because it beat unpacking another box. As I approached the door to it, a woman walked out of her apartment, and we began to chat. Within five minutes, we realized we were in the presence of an amazing syncronicity. Turns out that Edite was one of my good friends when we graduated from high school together in another town, 47 years ago. Going now by her Latvian name, Edite (I knew her then as Edith), had we not lived on the same floor, had we not bothered to make a connection, I would have missed an amazing "coincidence" and demonstration of the good we are seeking is seeking us.
So, who is the rascal that recoils in fear of "too much good?" Simply put, it is poor old ego, that monkey mind aspect of our beliefs about who we must be in order to be "enough," loved, approved. Probably more effective than any lobbyist, this self-constructed aspect of our belief system can argue us out of crossing the threshold of the most lucrative and deeply satisfying doors, finding ourselves in unknown rooms of experience. No small wonder that as analysts, so often we hear clients report dreams where they found themselves in mansions filled with many rooms and locked doors.
What can we do? Many of us landed on these shores thanks to the courage of those who went before us. I know that my mother, my grandparents must have looked out at the horizon and trusted that more for them awaited than what they could see. Our people took leaps of faith in the direction that promised a better tomorrow, challenging them to let go of the familiar. They set out, left what was no longer current, listened to their own inner GPS and set out. They were not afraid of "too much good." And, when they became afraid, they recalled that the promise awaiting was more compelling than their fears.
Begin now. Record your demonstrations of the good that is seeking you, when you trust your instincts, your intuition.
Your turn. What has been the greatest reward of listening to your instincts, following your intuition? Where would you like to expand this? What have you learned from not trusting them?
For updates, contact me at carabarker.net, or email@example.com. To save time, click on Become a Fan. Stay tuned for upcoming developments with The Love Project, including "Practicing Love." Follow Dr. Cara Barker on www.twitter.com/DrCaraBarker.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more