Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Letting go of needing things to turn out 'right'

Over the last few months my partner and I have been going through what most people would call a 'rocky patch'. We've become really reactive to each other and have both said and done many hurtful things. Things are definitely not 'right' between us. There's a lot of resentment and anger and we're finding it hard to forgive.

Because I'm the sort of person who likes things to be just so, I'm having a hard time accepting this 'not rightness'. I feel that I need to do something to change the situation, or to change him, or to change myself. I struggle with this feeling of uncertainty and transition and I feel that if I can't make things 'right', right now, then I might as well give up, run away.

But what I'm realising is that it is often in these times of chaos, or pain and disillusionment, that real transformation occurs. As Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön advises, when things fall apart, when we cannot get a handle on anything anymore, when we lose all control, then an opportunity is created to reconstruct things in a new way.

It's the same when our plans don't turn out the way we want them to. Here we can either struggle and moan, fixating on our idea of how things 'should' be, or we can let go and allow this new set of circumstances to reveal itself to us. Perhaps it is life's gift; even if it is a challenge it could still provide an opportunity for us to look at ourselves differently, to expand our idea of ourselves or the world around us. It's all about perspective, of acknowledging that just because life doesn't feel 'right' (according to our limited idea of what right is) doesn't mean that life isn't in fact perfect as it is. 

Life's perfection is chaotic and it's just this quality that makes it so magically synchronistic and replete with potential. We can never predict or control it, and if we try that's when things start to go wrong. When we resist life it starts to become deformed, things don't flow so smoothly anymore, the wheels and cogs of life become snagged on our rigidity, our refusal to surrender to it's infinite possibilities. 

Learning to let go of the need for things to turn out 'right' seems at first like a hard task. But if we look at it another way we can see that holding on takes a lot of energy. Letting go just means relaxing, falling back into the arms of life, trusting that all will be well. When we see it in this way letting go becomes a simpler way of living. We don't have to worry so much anymore. As Eckhart Tolle advises, we can simply 'allow things to be as they are'. This is true freedom.

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