We hold back for all sorts of reasons.
We think we’re going to be too much.
We’re scared we won’t have enough if we give it all away.
We believe that others will judge us and we’ll look stupid or weird or crazy.
We don’t trust that if we really stopped holding ourselves back that we’d be able to manage just how incredible our lives would be.
These are all ideas and ideas keep us stuck. They hold us back. They run counter to how life actually unfolds.
We have all these ideas of how we think something should be: a career, a date, a vacation, a job, an affair, a friend, a lover . . . and then what happens?
Life does its thing. The career takes a side road, the date stands you up, your vacation gets cancelled, you get fired, the affair leads to heartache, a friend moves to another country, a lover loves someone else.
Having pictures of how we want our lives to be is important. They give us something to work toward and keep our hopes alive of what’s possible. But along the way, things change, experiences transform and reality forces us to look at what’s really happening.
This doesn’t need to be tragic. It only creates suffering when we deny what is because we hold fast to our ideas that it should be something else.
Our point of power in life is created in these moments when we learn to inhabit them and accept them fully. Not fight them, not resist them, not deny them, but instead become present to what they have to show us. What is it we can learn from them? How might they turn us (and the experience) into something even better than our idea of what we thought it should be?
This then becomes a galvanizing, transformational moment. It cultivates qualities within us still needing to be developed: patience or compassion or surrender or equanimity. While at the same time creates alternative possibilities for us that if we but acknowledge and remain open to, can make our lives even more satisfying and exciting than the ideas we had for ourselves.
My dad has this saying. “Man plans. God laughs.”
I didn’t understand it as a kid, but I do now. And it’s a great reminder to let go of holding back and in so doing, discover that the things we desire can come in all sorts of forms, experiences and relationships.
It may not always turn out the way we think it’s going to turn out, but what if that became part of the fun, the excitement, the mystery of simply being here.
It is an adventure, after all. So stop holding back from going on it.