Earlier in the summer, I found out I had been pretty close to having something that I have always wanted for my life with all my heart. And I think that slowly, without me even being aware of it, the pain of knowing that I could have had something I want so wholly -- and losing it -- swallowed up my even wanting it anymore. So I came to the place, subconsciously, where I didn't even want to want it anymore. I don't even want to hope for it anymore. And this had to have spilled over into all areas of my life. I subconsciously decided that it's better to not want at all than to hurt when you don't get it.
And so it makes sense that I have been terribly confused, stuck, and unsure over the past few months. I have been completely unclear about what decisions to make for my life; I haven't really felt like my life has been my own. I feel like I've been on autopilot. How can I move forward in any area of my life if I am disconnected from what I want?
But, finally, this loss that I encountered actually took me to one of the most freeing realizations I've ever had. And it has changed the way I am now going forward.
Here's the deal. I've always been a spiritual person; heck, I've devoted my adult life to it. I've believed, learned, and taught that spiritually, when something we want isn't coming into our lives, it's because of something we need to work on about ourselves, it's because we need to trust the higher plan, that things happen for a reason, the time's not right, and so forth. But honestly, I don't think it's healthy for me to believe that anymore. I can't believe anymore that somehow it's my fault that it isn't coming in, or that I should keep waiting for it, assuming it's going to happen "when the time is right." Guess what? Maybe it will never happen, and I have to accept that. I'm not saying don't take responsibility for your life and yourself, but I do think that sometimes things that we want for our lives just don't happen for us, no matter how much responsibility we take or how much we work on ourselves... sometimes, things just aren't in the cards for us.
Off the bat, this may sound like a bummer; but, it's so not. Honestly, coming to terms with this has made me feel freer than I ever have! I have spent so much of my adult life being focused on wanting (needing) my life to look a certain way, that I stopped actually living my life. Coming to the place of acceptance has allowed me to, first of all, realize I was previously operating from a predominantly fear-based place, and has also encouraged me to engage in my life in a whole different way now.
Since the summer, as I said, I have been feeling stuck and unsure. I have been unsure about what I want to do next career-wise, what my next project or move is. I have been completely unclear about how to move forward with acting. I've had some romantic question marks (which I have since become clear on, phew!!) But it's been uncomfortable and frustrating to not know in any of these arenas. So, I felt like I had to do something! And guess what I did? Tried to force things. Force outcomes and answers based on what I think they're supposed to be or what they're supposed to look like. Because I haven't known what I want next for my career, or what I'm supposed to do next to get to act more, or what the truth about certain relationships were, I have felt the need to try to push to make something happen. Umm... bad idea. Spiritual teacher Rav Berg sums it up best, "Forcing anything generally just generates more chaos."
Here's the lesson I've learned: when you have no clue what you want, do nothing. This doesn't mean treat people badly, or let other people treat you badly. This doesn't mean don't work or don't do what's in front of you. It simply means -- stop trying to make anything happen. You're actually not in control of most things -- you can't control timing, or how something will turn out. You can't control another person's feelings, actions, or decisions. But, you can focus on what you can control -- which is: your environment, how you spend your time, the people you choose to spend your time with, how you allow people to treat you, and where you invest your energy. Simply focus on enjoying your life in the present moment. You won't know what you want until you actually know what you want. Once you are clear what want, then it's time to do something. But until then, it's okay to be in that uncomfortable space of the question mark.
I actually got to experience and validate this whole theory in action. Sometimes when I act, I have a bad habit of scrunching up my forehead. It looks weird and not normal. I have never known why I do it when I do. Until, in working a scene the other day, the director asked me the age-old thespian question, (insert pretentious British accent here): "What do you want?" I thought about what my character wanted in the scene and became clear on her intention, and the scene just flowed through me organically and unfolded in a really beautiful way. The director turned to me and said, "See, when you know what you want, you relax your forehead, and the scene just flows. There's no forcing."
Once I knew what I wanted, I could just drop it into my heart and let it go, knowing that intention was there driving the scene. When I didn't know what I wanted in the scene, when it was unclear, I tried to force emotion, I tried to make the scene go a certain way instead of letting it just unfold. Just like I do in life. And so until I do know what I want, I have to do nothing. It's only when I try to control how I think the scene -- aka, life -- is supposed to go that I "scrunch up my forehead" and try to force an outcome. And, bam, that's how I've been operating in life.
The truth is that if we try to force a situation to look a certain way or to fit in a certain time frame, we will never actually know if it would happen naturally anyways. In the forcing you actually lose it. When you let it be what it's going to be, you can see the truth. And when you see the truth is actually when it becomes clear what you want. This doesn't mean don't have boundaries or set limits; always listen to, and stay true to, what feels good to you, what feels right to you, and what honors you... but only once you are clear on what you want from the situation, then you can take action.
So my practice now is to let go of what I have always clung to as wanting for my life. I think hanging on so tightly to it has been detrimental. I've come to the place of acceptance and realization (after a lot of sadness, grieving, and anger, don't get me wrong!) that perhaps it's just not going to happen for me; I can't believe or hope anymore that it is -- and it's not because of anything I've done wrong. Some people get certain things in their lives and some people don't... and it has nothing to do with a higher plan or someone being a good person or not. Knowing that is an odd freedom, an odd sense of relief. This kind of thinking puts us in a place of power. We are no longer "victims" to the higher plan, helplessly and painfully waiting for it to bring us what we want one day, or beating ourselves up and constantly blaming ourselves when it's not happening. Now, we have the power to choose to live our lives in each present moment. We have the power to choose to do nothing until we know what to do.