There’s a military saying, “Embrace the suck.”
It’s a very Buddhist concept. When we deny what reality is giving us, we create suffering. So life is a dance between minimizing expectations and surrendering to what our lives actually reveal to us.
By embracing our lives totally (even the stuff that “sucks”), we get through it. The Armed Forces have no other choice. If they’re out in the Iraqi desert or in the mountains of Afghanistan, the only way they’re going to get through those challenging experiences is by embracing it.
But for us with our modern conveniences and propensity for denial, we can distract ourselves, numb ourselves, fool ourselves over and over to avoid, disconnect, ignore, postpone, procrastinate, and put our heads in the sand when we don’t want to look at what is.
And that’s ironic since the denial of something simply extends its presence.
So even though “the suck” sucks, the prolonging of it makes it even suckier. For longer.
So why do we do it?
The neuroplasticity of our brains fires neurons that support the habit. In the long run we’d be much happier, expressive and creative if we rebooted our neural wiring and developed a different habit. But in the short-term, we’re willing to sacrifice our long-term goals and possibilities because the moment would require us to let go of habits that keep us stuck. The alternative is the unknown which is scarier than “the suck” so we just reboot the old neural wiring.
The poet, David Whyte, says: “Anything or anyone that does not bring you fully alive is too small for you.”
If we can identify how we play too small and find the corresponding habit that keeps us stuck there, we can change the neural wiring to create something much more beneficial for us.
A lot of the things that make us feel as if we’re not fully alive are self-imposed paradigms and dialogues we have with ourselves. We might say things that are unkind to ourselves and we don’t agree with, but we say them anyway. Simply because they’re habituated.
Or we might be playing too small by the actions we take (or don’t take).
We might watch too much porn. Spend too much time on the phone. Drink too much. Want to stop smoking. We might have a friend who’s hurt us and we’ve not shared how we feel. We might be dating someone who’s cheating on us and we know it but we stay in the relationship, hoping it will get better.
Prolongs “the suck.”
What if this week, you wrote down 5 things that don’t make you fully alive? Examine why they are at play in your life. What could you do to make changes to eliminate them?
Eliminating them requires awareness of that which often “sucks.” Then, no longer avoiding it, we embrace the sucky quality to get to the other side. Transformation.
You can do it. If it’s not making you fully alive, you’ve outgrown the need (or pay-off) of this thing anyway.
Be brave. Have faith. Move on to the next level of your growth without looking back and feel fully, inspiringly, dynamically alive. It’s how you were meant to feel.
You just forgot because you got used to “the suck.”