On any given day, I can feel like two very different people.
8:35am: I experience a wave of excitement about life — I feel hopeful and encouraged, like anything is possible!
11:15am: I'm hit with a wave of discouragement — I feel tired, like everyone hates me, and everything feels impossible.
How can these two seemingly opposite experiences happen to the same person, on the same day, in the same morning?
The waves come, and they go.
In the same way that I don't have the slightest understanding about the waves of the ocean (and even less control), I apparently lack the ability to predict, understand, or control the waves inside myself.
For my first 43 years, this has made me feel insane. Maybe you're also thinking I'm insane! :) But my guess is that you may have a similar experience.
I have some good news for both of us:
You are not insane... you are alive.
And here's some even better news: you don't have to control these waves, and you don't have to feel guilty about them.
The waves come, and they go.
These waves are only at the surface of the water. The real you goes much, much deeper.
I'm learning to let the waves come and go. They're going to come and go anyway. So this isn't a matter of me changing or not changing the waves; it's a matter of changing myself, and my relationship to the waves.
I can let the waves come and go. Things don't have to feel "good" all of the time. And I don't have to "suck it up" and push through when things feel "bad." I don't have to control these waves at all.
I also don't have to be controlled by the waves. When a wave of despair comes in, it doesn't mean that I am despair... it is only a part of my whole experience of this moment. When a wave of hope comes in, it doesn't mean that I was not feeling any hope before. This is just the wave which happens to have risen to the surface in this moment. But this one wave does not fully define me.
I can step back and see a bigger picture of myself, which includes these waves of emotions, fears, hopes, doubts, frustrations, and joy, but is not defined fully by them.
I am so much more than just the current wave.
When I allow the waves to come — not trying to stop or control them — and allow them to go — not identifying with them or trying to hold onto them — it is like saying to the waves of my experience, "it is okay for you to be here."
"It is okay for you to feel fear in this moment." "It is okay for you to feel hope in this moment." "It is okay for you to feel anger in this moment."
It is okay for you to be here.
By saying this, we invite our whole self to be here.
The waves are a part of the picture, but you are not only the waves on the surface. You are a deep, deep ocean.
Some waves can feel uncomfortable, unpredictable, uncontrollable. This is how it feels to be alive.
You are alive.
What if when the next wave comes in — one which would normally make you feel only uncomfortable — you simply say, "this is a reminder that I am alive."
So much of the pain we experience in life which we attribute to feelings of fear, doubt, sadness, etc. is not actually due to those feelings, but to our reaction to them. Trying to control the uncontrollable causes pain. Not to mention a complete waste of energy.
That's where our exhaustion comes from. We're not exhausted from feelings of discouragement; we're exhausted from trying not to feel discouragement!
But if these waves are allowed to come, and to go, they get so much softer. Easier. Smaller. They're still there. Still real. But they're no longer overwhelming. They just are. And, in a while, a different wave will come. That's how waves work.
I'm learning that allowing the waves to come and to go is a way to be kind to myself. I'm learning that I can choose to be an accepting, appreciative friend, rather than a harsh judge.
Sometimes we just need to be heard by a loving friend, even if we do seem a little crazy at the moment. That friend can be us.
So when the next wave comes, listen.
When the next wave comes, let it come. And, let it go.
Enjoy the sigh of relief which then comes — not as a result of an undesirable wave going away, but as the result of finally being allowed to be where you are.
Yes. It is okay for you to be here. It is okay to rest.
Two hours ago, I could never have written these words.
If I were to have written anything, it would have been something like, "No one wants to hear this crap. Why do I even try?"
That's okay. Maybe that wasn't the time to write a blog post or make big life-decisions. But it's okay — this wave can be here, free to come and free to go.
Two hours later, for reasons I don't understand, I feel a wave of hope. And I want to write. So here I am, writing.
Two hours from now, who knows?! Am I crazy? Maybe. Maybe I'm learning to better cope with being insane. :)
Or maybe I'm simply learning to better cope with being alive.
To better cooperate with life.
I can't control this wave, and I can't predict whatever wave comes next. I don't have to. I can rest. I can trust.
What a relief.