Sometimes it is good to push ourselves. If we are holding back because of fear, this may be a good time to try and push through. But if we are pushing through stress, bitterness, or resentment for an extended period then it may be time to stop and find another way. Depending on the situation, this may require a change of plan that could be as simple as changing the way we understand something to making major changes in the way we go about our lives. Self-awareness and honesty about what is really going on as well as an honest appraisal of our own faults and limits is required in any situation where we feel as though we are only going uphill. Major life changes can also mean a painful period where we tie up all the loose ends of the old pattern before we adopt the new pattern. It is not always feasible or good to just walk away from something. This is a difficult fact to try and keep going when really what you want to do is run away at speed. We owe it ourselves to ensure that when we want to disentangle ourselves that we try to do it as gracefully as possible. If we do have to cut and run then we should do so with profuse apology making efforts to try and smooth the path as much as we can. This is particularly difficult if we have felt like the injured party in a situation but even if others involved have not behaved in the best manner, we should always try to behave in the best manner. We will not feel good about ourselves if we sink to a level below what we would desire of others.
We also need to be aware that once we announce the fact that we are going to change things that there will potentially be negative feeling from those who will be affected by our decision to change direction. This is only natural and we should try to empathise as much as possible. However, this also means that things are likely to get worse before they get better. If we are certain that a path is not good for us (and if so probably not good for everyone else either) then we cannot let the fear of others’ reactions hold us back. It is important that we practice both virtue and humility but also that we are true to what we think is right. We have a responsibility to treat others with respect (even if they have not done the same for us) but we also have to honour our own journey.
It is also important to say that when we honour our own journey we must also respect where it interacts with the journey of others. If we relentlessly seek our own good not caring about what it does to other people this will constitute a failure. How can we truly enjoy and appreciate the situation we find ourselves in if it has come at the cost of misery and heartache for others? One thing that is very certain is that we as creatures tend to be incredibly selfish. This all comes back to our survival tendencies. We must take the higher road as best we can. Balance between generosity and selfishness is a hard balance to create and we will regularly fail in the attempt. The important thing when we fail is first to actually notice when we have failed and then practise virtue and humility in admitting and trying to make up for our mistakes. This is also incredibly hard but we have to do it.
When we are considering whether to stop, we have to think carefully about what it means for us and for those around us. Generally we can’t just stop and hope for the best. We need to give ourselves time and be patient as we work through all the potential issues around our decision. Taking a bit of time to do this need not take a huge amount of time (nor should it) and we should actively set aside time to consider our problem and the possible options. Make a decision and then give yourself a day or two to live as if you have made that decision and see how it feels and how it affects you. Take some time to choose silence and try to quieten the mind of the usual noise as this will give you a better chance of making a good decision. Take care of yourself with particular care during these times – eat healthy food, get some fresh air and move around outside a bit. Life is tricky so you need to prepare. We are also not machines.
Writing is another good way to get your thoughts in order. One practise that I have used that helps me a lot in difficult times I learned from a book given to me by a friend called “The Artist’s Way”. It’s called morning pages. Sit down for an allotted time every morning and spill your guts onto the page. Everything that is worrying you, everything that is passing through the grey matter should be written down on the page. It’s very cathartic to do a daily brain dump. It does require commitment but it’s highly effective.
When we take care of ourselves, we are best placed then to help take care of everyone else around us. Life is a dance but somewhere along the way we have forgotten the steps. Reconnect with your dance in the silence then listen for the music.