Painting by Adam Scythe
The older I become, the more I learn to accept the darker parts of life. When I was younger, I thought the goal was to eliminate everything negative. To get rid of life's bumps and make everything nice and smooth.
I see a lot of people who struggle with life because of this reason. I'm still one of those people. I always will be, probably.
We want all our days to be good days. That is the standard. We are addicted to joy.
Joy is great, don't get me wrong. It's a natural part of life. But so is sorrow. Whatever shape it might take in one's life. This sorrow is what most of us have such a hard time accepting. We hide it like a secret we should be ashamed of and check if our mask of joy is still on straight.
It's not acceptable to be anything other than joyful. We cannot accept it in ourselves, so we avoid it in others.
This is a never-ending struggle with our own existence. Because there will be bad days. On the good ones, our guard is down, because "everything is as it should be". But the bad days we have to resist, we have to fight.
Keeping up this resistance and the carrying that mask of perfection on our faces is incredibly exhausting. And it creates even more sorrow. Because we are sad about our sadness, we are scared of our fear. We multiply our pain.
What happens if we accept that we don't need to be anything other than we are? That we don't need to control our feelings all the time? That we can just sit in peace and be unapologetically ourselves?
Feelings are just feelings. Thoughts are just thoughts. They are just there. If we don't take them so seriously, and we don't want to control them all the time, we might even be able to smile to them. Because actually, they don't mean that much.
Feelings and thoughts are much like spoiled children. They often throw a tantrum and demand our attention. You can't reason with a child. You can't give in to them and let them control you, because that will just make the child even more spoiled and demanding. My mom always ignored me when I was throwing tantrums. It worked great, let me tell you. If no one's listening, there's no use in shouting.
If we don't take them too seriously, feelings and thoughts can't control us.
We can practice allowing ourselves to be however we are in the moment. Everything changes all the time anyway, so nothing lasts for long. Don't make the mistake of thinking that negative feelings last forever--they don't. They will pass. Just like the positive ones pass. Then they come again.
When we let go of trying to control everything about ourselves and make everything "bad" into a "good" something awesome happens. Without resistance, nothing feels as horrible. We might just be able to accept ourselves as we are. Feelings and all.
“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” - Pema Chödrön