MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “acceptance”

Prove me wrong

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There are times you wish you were wrong. That the risk you took – seldom without overthinking – would pay off. That the impulsive leap you made would result in you landing softly somewhere. That what you feared would be the worst outcome would not be realised.

But overthinkers tend to have all possible scenarios considered. It’s not true, though, that they are shielded from pain because of this. It’s not true that they don’t get hurt because they saw it coming and you’re just proving them right. It’s just as hurtful – even more so – because you so desperately want to be wrong. You want that slight chance of everything defying your fears and turning out so much better. You desire that rarity of a happy ending.

Charles Bukowski had said that “sadness is caused by intelligence; the more you understand certain things, the more you wish you didn’t understand them”.

More often than not we try to escape life to run away from the reality we refuse to accept. We usually know what we ought to do, how we should act, how certain stories of our life will play out. But we obstinately deny it. We have difficulty in acknowledging the facts, because when our emotions are combating our rationale, we are guided by our feelings not our mind. It takes time, but the longer we resist, the harder it gets to let go.

And in the end, we are left with that incessant, perpetuating, yet constantly unanswered question: what if for once things turned out differently, contrary to all odds, to all predictions, to all expectations?

It is what it is

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You know that nothing can kill you more than your own thoughts, right?” He looked at her sharply. Once again she was drowning herself, choking up on makeshift scenarios. He needed to be harsh to snap her out of it.

We make up disasters in our heads, because we build too much expectation and then become devastated when it’s not fulfilled. Just let things be”.

My grandma once said: The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be”.

So live the moments; it’s what composes life and it’s what you will remember”.

They say happiness doubles when shared. But what about sadness? Does that halve in magnitude? Because we tend to keep our misery bottled up, especially when we consider that everyone has problems of their own, many of which are more serious than ours.

But what if we choose to live those fleeting moments – those phantom pleasures that last only a bit – and we keep them to ourselves and only share them with a few close confidants?

What if when we return to reality, they seem like a dream? What if all we have to account for them are the photos we took but never uploaded anywhere? What if the only documented evidence of our fun was how it made us feel? How long will it last? And how will we make it endure for longer?

Why is it that whenever something good arrives, we have an innate fear that it will overturn, and that something bad will come to upset it all? Why do we allow ourselves to fall into that spiralling circle that messes up our minds? What if we just send out the optimism and positiveness we hope to receive; would that make fortune return to us?

Life is what it is. But that’s not always easy to accept. No matter what anyone tells us to do.

The fall of an angel

What is it that I do so wrong?” she asked her godmother with a voice that was drowning out tears.

She didn’t know that somewhere else, he was wondering the same, but chose to keep it for himself, pretending everything was perfectly fine.

The godmother smiled and sighed. It was a question almost everyone had posed at least once in their lifetime. It usually came after a painful experience. When you elevated too high with euphoria and abruptly crashed to the ground, claiming you never saw the collision drawing near. It was after the fall of an angel.

You know, even the devil was once an angel. People don’t show their true face immediately. Some may feign so well that it takes a very long time to see through them – if ever”.

So we should just never trust anyone? Ever?” She sounded so innocent, so naïve.

You should tread cautiously, drawing lessons from your previous experience. But you should not shut down your heart and stop being you”.

There was silence. She was contemplating what that meant and how it could be achieved.

Even angels find their wings too heavy sometimes”, the godmother continued, aware that the angels’ allegory always worked. After all, she was the one who had imbued it on her.

Sometimes we need to fall to be able to look up. To take a wrong turn so that we eventually get to the right place. We need the darkness to see the stars. Just remember the lessons you learn on your journey through life. But most of all, accept that some things just happen because something greater is waiting for you. It wasn’t where you were meant to be. Stop thinking too much about it. You’ll be grateful you moved on later”.

And then she said this that served as a wake-up call:

We consume ourselves where we’re not meant to be and become blind to all that awaits us”.

Chasing a perfect life

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Do you ever wake up after a bad night’s sleep and you’re angry with the world and everything in it? There are certain moments during the day, week or month, when the slightest thing can make us snap and lose control. We need moments to alleviate the tension we’re building up inside by holding everything in so as to be ‘proper’ and sane. Or at least to appear to be calm and, well…’normal’. But what is normal, in a world that so forcefully tries to convince itself it is embracing difference, uniqueness and diversity?

People interpret words and circumstances differently. It is unavoidable. And it all comes down to how each of our minds functions.

We are so used to complaining and moaning about all the problems in our lives, most of which are created by our own negative thoughts. We fear of letting them go, of taking a risk and being happy, because we are unfamiliar with that sentiment. We have clenched such a strong grip on the unpleasantness in our lives that anything else seems too much of a leap into uncertainty.

It’s almost as if we persuade ourselves that this stance of misery is the norm. That this is how it should be and we inflict shame upon ourselves for not being someone else, for not being more or less of what we picture as an ideal, of what society illustrates as how people should be. And that shame brings numbness to every emotion. Because, as we try to block out our feelings of grief and embarrassment and irritation at not being perfect, we also numb those of joy, satisfaction and lightness. We refuse to accept our vulnerability, out of shame, and instead shut ourselves down from the inside, alienating everyone around us in the process.

In searching for meaning and purpose in our lives, we may turn to self-help. We think we can fix ourselves and be happy if we follow certain books of wisdom and guidance on how to live. It’s an industry worth $11 billion, but does it actually help? In her witty, poignant and inspiring book Help Me!, Marianne Power goes through a dozen self-help books in a quest for perfection and happiness. But she also goes through a breakdown – or ‘spiritual awakening’ – as she gets too close with the thoughts in her head. She discovers that humans have an innate need to love, be loved and belong, and rejection hurts because we rely on the approval of the group for our survival since our cave-men days. She notes that self-help creates “unrealistic standards about how great life should be, puts unrealistic pressure on yourself to change, and creates self-obsession”; but the more you try to improve who you are, the more you are aware of the flaws, and the more you chase happiness, the unhappier you become.

In “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle reassures us that we all have a voice in our head, which is usually mean and talks us down. It is one that takes us away from the only thing that is real and will give us peace – being right here, right now. If we can quieten down the voice, we’ll realise we are perfectly happy in this very moment. And like British playwright Dennis Potter said: “We tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense”.

In her very inspiring TED speech, Brené Brown explores the depth and source of human connection, understanding vulnerability, feeling empathy and confronting shame. She explains that we’re all constantly afraid of not being good enough, with the underlying fear that we won’t be loved, and so we strive harder to be perfect. But instead of chasing perfection, she says we should be seeking connection, to empathise and understand each other, to talk honestly and openly about our fears, insecurities and doubts. “Healing comes from sharing your story with someone who is worthy of hearing it”, she states. “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”. And it all centres around this. For shame, is the fear of disconnection, of not being worthy enough; the “gremlin who says you’re not good enough”. But for connection to happen, we need to allow ourselves to truly be seen, to expose ourselves and be vulnerable. Those who achieve this are whole-hearted people, ones who are courageous enough to show their authentic selves (‘courage’, after all, derives from the Latin word ‘cor’=heart), who acknowledge they are imperfect and who demonstrate compassion by being kind to themselves first and then to others.

The path for a whole-hearted living, according to Dr. Brown’s research, is to be willing to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we are. To be willing to plunge into something where there are no guarantees, to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out, to practice gratitude in times of terror, to believe we’re enough, and ultimately to simply stop controlling and predicting life and just…live it. She concludes that “joy comes to us in moments – ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary”.

And like Marianne Power eventually realizes – happiness depends on getting up in the morning and being a decent person. Or like her Irish mother, eloquently put it, just “do no harm”.

In the end, there is a truth that when we stop pursuing happiness and the ‘perfect’ life, we will encounter all that matters and we need.

Staying afloat

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When you fall into a river you’re besieged with an innate instinct for survival and you search for ways to keep afloat and to get out. It’s natural. If you stop trying to swim, you’ll sink, and ultimately drown.

This is somewhat true in how you survive in your daily life as well. In the relationships you build and maintain. What holds you down is what makes you drown. And that can range from the negative thoughts in your head, your problems, your stress, the prejudices you carry around, even past traumatic experiences from failed relationships that have left a bitter aftertaste.

When you exit the river, you’re never the same person as the one who entered. Something has washed over you and infiltrated you even if you can’t see it. You’re changed by every experience you have, every person who walks in – and out – of your life. There is a lesson to be gained from everything. As long as we want to acknowledge it.

Seminars on self-help and self-growth are abundant. This was an excerpt from one of them. She was drawn into it because the metaphor was cunning. But, this was nothing new. Theories are so easy to develop. They’re easy to state, even to ourselves. Acting upon them is what is necessary and means something. And that is the hardest to do. Because accepting reality and that some things just happen, is the most difficult of all.

She would give herself completely in someone she felt was worthwhile. She would fall head over heels from the start. And perhaps that was her mistake. That she would put herself on offer willingly, without being asked. Her friend told her that this made the other person greedy, thus provoking his insatiable attitude. But she would do things because she wanted to and felt pleasure in doing them. Because happiness entails making others smile. Because we love the way we want to be loved. It’s the only way she knew.

But when things snapped in an instant for no rational reason, she was the one left heartbroken, wondering why others don’t treat her the same way she would. Why they wouldn’t run to surprise her and make things right. Why they wouldn’t even call to talk and solve the dispute that so abruptly and harshly erased their laughter.

They say “we accept the love we think we deserve”, but that’s not true. Because we don’t always attract what we want, but rather what we need at certain periods in time. We learn something out of every incident we face, regardless of how good or bad it is. We don’t always end up with what we crave. But sometimes we realise that maybe it’s for the best. Sometimes pain is meant to be felt, so we can appreciate serenity when it finally arrives.

The trouble with overestimation

It was a thunderous and stormy day in August when Sarah decided to de-clutter her closets. In the heart of summer, autumn made its brief appearance that day, reminding her that nothing lasts too long.

It was time to get rid of everything that belonged in the past and had no room in her present or future. It was the only way to look forward.

After all, “life can only be understood looking backwards; but it must be lived forwards” (Soren Kierkegaard).

The truth with disappointment is that you invoke it on yourself by setting too high expectations.

You raise the bar too high hoping and wishing that others will leap up and reach it. You expect too much because you overestimate the potential of others. In your eyes, you see them as the ideal you imagine them to be. You fall in love with the idea of who a person can be, not who they truly are. And therein lies the very problem. Because you fail to see the reality and look pass it to its potential, of what it could be, not what it actually is. And then the difficulties intensify as you refuse to accept things as they are and to come to terms with how others are and act.

We fail to see that not everyone shares our mentality and our behaviour. These are beyond our control when they concern others. We don’t always need to comprehend why, but others may react and act differently than how we would. And that’s OK. Because they are an entirely different human being. But we struggle in accepting that.

And that is our trouble.

We lift others too high in our minds that we are the ones left hurt when they fall. In their head, they were never that high up anyway.

Sarah discovered a small frame she had hidden in one of her boxes. It read “expect nothing, appreciate everything”. And that pretty much summed it all up.

Admitting to the problem

https://img.fotocommunity.com/sehnsucht-nach-meer-e5071e7c-1c5a-4ce7-88e1-8e87a1f6e2ce.jpg?height=400They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. In fact, it is true that more people would learn from them mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. In the same light, in order to begin to find some peace of mind, we need to acknowledge that we have none.

In our modern age, being (too) busy is a problem. But the thing is, we think that it is a privilege, an asset, or even something to be proud of – we actually boast of being busy. Of not having time for anything, not even of living.

We have lost touch of the things that matter. Instead of talking to each other and trying to help one another, to learn from each other and mutually improve, we have become so competitive that what dominates our relationships is hypocrisy and shallowness.

What is more, we don’t know how to relax anymore. We have become so obsessed about constantly having something on our minds and in our hands that we turn into inexplicably nervous freaks when we are faced with “doing nothing”. Keeping calm is not a concept the modern world understands. Yet, we so love to cant about it everywhere, we have drawn numerous gifs and images and posters and anything you can imagine, that begin with “keep calm and…”.

Let’s face it. We have become a troublesome kind. We are so afraid of being left out of pretty much anything that we create trouble where there is none, do things we don’t really want to do, and adopt styles that don’t fit us simply because they are the current trend. In the process, we choose to follow the crowd than stand out in our own unique way. And, like everyone else, we criticise or adore whoever and whatever is ‘in fashion’ at the time.

We don’t think anymore. And that is perhaps the most pitiful and severe problem of us all.

The Archer

https://lh5.ggpht.com/l9mykkNXAk5GQA2yRa3ml5CrenDBghDsjINP5cjEvy0WuPFIb4oJ7ZB1w9MLURSBp-hk=w300The bowstring tore his cheek as the arrow flung to hit the hanging branch. He was trying to outrun the voices behind him, and every few paces he would turn and try to find deterrents to block their way. It was already getting dark and it was easier now to get lost in the woods. That served to his advantage. No-one knew the forest as well as he did. It was his home.

They called him The Archer. All they really knew about him was that whatever he stole, he would replace with something else. So, for example, if he stole a loaf of bread the one day, the next he would repay with a couple of fresh apples. He didn’t want to be considered a thief after all. And he always signed his name with a capital “A”.

But no-one had ever seen him. Despite the fact that he moved among them daily.

His mother was an Amazon, tamed by a Lord. Their marriage was a demonstration of how powerful love could be. But also of how profound. For when she got sick, he drunk his fortune away, and with it his son’s future. The boy was soon orphaned and left to fight for his own survival. All he knew how to do was use a bow better than anyone. He was very young when he was forced to discover the world, and the people of the village looked upon him with a mix of pity and fear. They would give him chores and various errands to run if they had any, but the pay was minimum, if at all, and the boy could not survive on that alone.

No-one seemed to care how he managed or where he lived. That was private business, or what they described as “personal issues”.

So the boy often disappeared as quickly and as easily as he appeared.

But no-one ever associated him with The Archer. He had become a legend, a sort of myth that made the forest and the nearby village an attraction. He became the terrifying story parents threatened their children with to make them behave. He had become a ghost despite still being alive.

He carved his own bows and arrows, made his own home, and by now knew all the places food could be found in plenty. He lived poorly but managed to gain all the necessities life handed abundantly and was satisfied with how well he fared. What he hated was the look in the villagers’ eyes. As The Archer phantom, he saw fear, prejudice, and loathing. So many negative feelings for a being they hardly knew. And as the boy, their eyes reflected sorrow, shame and sometimes compassion. But that is not what he wanted. All he desired was some kindness, someone to invite him into their home and share a warm meal with him. The boy, just like The Archer, simply wanted to be accepted. But in his own eyes, that was the most difficult feat of all.

Words of the wise

roller-coaster“Do you remember what it was like the first time you got on a roller-coaster? The excitement you felt when standing in line, the thrill that engulfed you as you took your seat, the adrenaline rush, the fear and the nausea, and the pleasant relief at the end? Life is like that. Like a roller-coaster. Love is like that too. In time you learn to become stronger and wiser. But that does not mean you stop loving. Or living”.

Grandma May always had a way with words. Her voice was as soothing as a hot cup of chamomile tea. And she always knew exactly what to say at precisely the right moment. Tricia could think of no other person to turn to whenever she needed a word of advice, a shoulder to cry on, or simply a hug.

Ever since she was a young child, she would run to Grandma May whenever she scraped her knees and needed consolation, whenever she would fight with her parents for some reason or other, whenever she felt betrayed by her friends, and, above all, whenever she experienced a heartache. The latter was Grandma May’s specialty. It was not everyone who could mend a broken heart. But Grandma May knew all too well what it felt like, enough to be able to convince even the most heartbroken of creatures that they will survive. She never told Tricia what she herself had gone through in life. Even when she outright asked, Tricia would never get a clear response, only some sort of wise-person talk, like something Yoda from Star Wars would say.

“How can you be so sure that a love like that will come again? What if that was it? If you had your chance and you missed it? Where will I ever find someone who loves me as much? Who will care for me so? Who will I find to match with so perfectly?”

Tricia was firing out questions as if her torso was a machine gun that had been kept silent for too long. Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she lay in Grandma May’s arms and wondered how life can go on after such intense pain.

Grandma May had brought tissues, tea, cookies and a blanket. And she decided to tell her a story.

“A long time ago, when there were enough women and men to form communities, the first heartache appeared. For now, people were free to choose who they wanted their partner to be. When a pair was formed it was usually for life. But on rare occasions, the couple split. They simply decided they could not continue on the same path together because their thoughts were heading on two different trains. I know you’re probably wondering what these prehistoric people were thinking about, but I’ll have you know that ever since our hearts began to beat, our minds began to think. The couple who split up ran to their own families and asked exactly the same questions you do now. It is natural. Everyone does. It is part of the process. The wisest man in the village – he also happened to be the eldest – took each aside on separate occasions and told them this: In our lives, we all must pass through different stages in order to grow. Just as we go through extreme jubilation when we are happy, we also go through severe depression when we are sad. But our minds and bodies have developed their own mechanism to deal with these roller-coasters. It is something you may know as the Kübler-Ross model, or more simply the five stages of grief. It consists of the stages we go through in order to, in a sense, mourn for a period of our lives that has passed. In these five stages we go through denial (refusing to accept that this phase in our lives is over); anger (at everything and everyone for having led to this); bargaining (in an attempt to make things right if something else where to be done or if we tried harder); depression (because you begin to realize that you have to go on alone, no matter how much you may miss your previous life phase); and acceptance (when you truly acknowledge the fact that life goes on and you must rejoice the memories and become stronger through the experience). It is our process for recovering, becoming more resilient and moving one. Above all, however, it takes time. And just like every heartbroken soul that came after this couple, we all survive. It takes time and patience and lots of strength, but it does work. Keep yourself busy – but don’t forget. Learn new things – but don’t regret. Become tougher – but don’t stop being kind. You will get through this. Everyone always does.”

Tricia was watching Grandma May dumbfounded. She had stopped sniffing and sat there mesmerized by her words. She had nothing to say. No words could come forth to be uttered at this moment. Maybe it was better that way.

So, she got up and brought a board game for her to play with wise Grandma May.

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