Updated: Nov 11, 2022
°16 octobre 2022, There's no black or white in our direct emotional experience
When it comes to raising the question of how we feel about something we'll tend to jump into black and white thinking. It's as if there's a clear good or bad in our emotional reaction to different life-events. Either we feel good and then it was a good decision/event or we feel bad, and then it was a bad one.
If only life were that simple.
Moving abroad has been a great teacher in accepting that there's no such thing as a good or a bad when it comes to major life-events and how we feel about them. The bigger the event, the more's at stake and therefore the bigger the complexity it will bring about. We all know the phrase, "you choose, you lose". And that's exactly it, there's always a trade-off. There's an inevitable shadow side to each and every one of our choices. It's exactly in denying this -unfavourable- fact that we'll get trapped.
Subconscious choices, in the sense of denying the costs they will bring about - will lead to unexpected emotional turmoil afterwards. There's an expiration date to our denial, as there's -in the end- no escape from our own internal experiences.
I committed to the choice to live abroad, yet that doesn't mean it's easy and only has benefits. This choice, however fulfilling it might be, gives me a heartache at the same time. It's especially when saying goodbye again -after visits of friends and family- that it hits me. They're going back home and I'm not going to be there.
It's confusing, to say the least, to feel these conflicting desires within. A part of me wants to be with my family, present in sharing life's daily joys and challenges. Yet another needs to explore, be free, travel & grow through the experience of -exactly- this separation of my own upbringing and culture.
It seems as if there's an internal war between my own needs and wants. A battle of core-values, all equally important, all striving to be seen and fulfilled.
Arriving alone at the airport last week, after saying goodbye to my family, is when I most noticeably felt the strange experience of sadness, accompanying joy. Feeling the pull of my new home, the joy of living in a softer climate, close by the ocean, exploring this new beautiful territory - yet at the same time, feeling like a 7-year old who's lost her parents in the supermarket.
What would've happened in the past, is I would've resisted to feel the pain and I would've told myself to grow up, and stop complaining. And then, after I'd run out of willpower, the sadness and fear would've completely overwhelmed me. The boomerang effect of oppression.
This time I felt an increased awareness, an ability to recognize and hold space for all of it. There was an ability to comfort myself, like a mother comforts her child or like a friend comforts another friend in need. A kind presence who simply accepted all of it, none of the experiences had to be pushed out nor did I feel the need to dwell in them. To be fair, it wasn't only spiritual enlightening, there was also the comfort of a chocolate chip cookie. I'm only human, and after all -now I understand why- an airport if full of - ridiculously overpriced - sweets.
It's exactly in this space of being fully present that we can notice the impermanent nature, not only of every experience within but also of everything happening around us. There's different phases in life where we can and must make our choices. There's no way not to choose, because each day you don't choose to make a change, you're choosing for the status quo. Which can be a fine choice in itself, though recognize it for what it is: also a choice. Don't be the passive passenger of your own life, that's far more dangerous than owning a choice and owning its consequences, however challenging those might be.
It's in the practice of introspection and meditation that we learn to really listen, to really see with a clear eye all that is happening within. All that is truely at play. We need to learn to see where we're conditioned, what we've been taught to think and believe, therefore -seemingly- want. It's not something with an end-point, it's an ongoing process and there's no one to tell us what's right or what's wrong. This might just be the thing in life that teaches us most that we should therefore value the investment much more than the result.
As the result is, as I mentioned, not only impermanent - but also imperfect - by nature. We make a choice, we alter our life-direction and a part of us shines its light, while another will - at least for a while - be put in the shade. It will get less light, yet also - just like a plant - require less water. In this way we can learn to trust that it's okay, our inner desires won't die because of the shade. They'll get their turn in the end, aslong as you keep on making the investment of conscious decisionmaking.
I can definitely recognize that sometimes it's a good thing to simplify things, though when it comes to ourselves and our true desires we shouldn't. We shouldn't make it into an either/or question.
What if we're all of those things in one body? What if we're full of internal friction? What if external disputes are merely a projection of our own internal oppression?
"We are the ultimate oppressors of our own happiness."
-The motivation manifesto, Brendon Bruchard
Well, if you ask me, managing these strong internal forces requires psychological flexibility, which we build throughout the life long practice of learning to fully observe what is. Learning to be fully present with these - seemingly - opposite parts of ours. Creating more space for them to co-exist.
It's in that full presence, that we can experience that those opposite forces actually aren't so unable to live with each other. We can choose one, without betraying the other, as there's an infinite amount of choices to be made. It's in the replacement of one simple word: 'or'. It's in letting go the idea we're defined by 'either/or' and in embracing the experience that we are actually always 'and'.
We can be happy and sad at the same time. Terrified and excited. Wanting to run and still ever curious to discover what's going on.
In each and every moment you can learn to connect to your most urgent need & look for a way to meet it. Fully accepting the trade-off, the parts of you that will stand in the shadow aslong as the sun is shining it's light in one direction. Those parts won't mind, once they realize that their day is yet to come, the earth revolves around the sun -day by day- and so all parts will get there time to shine.
The impermance of everything, often a curse, eventually turns out to be a blessing in disguise.
Go shine your light,
and embrace your darkness.
As both are equally beautiful,
in their co-existence.