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When it seems things are falling apart

The Weekly Seeker #9

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There can be periods in our lives – days, weeks, months, sometimes even years – where it seems things are falling apart.

Where things are moving in directions we don’t like.

Where no matter what we try or how much effort we put in, there’s just one crisis after another.

Maybe you get sick. (Once or multiple times.)

Or someone you love gets sick, or leaves, or dies.

Maybe you lose something (or have to let go of something) that was a huge part of your identity – a house, career, friendship, a particular lifestyle.

Maybe your crises come in smaller doses – you twist an ankle, you drop hot coffee on yourself, your dishwasher or fridge or water heater malfunctions unexpectedly, you get a flat tire on the way home from work (after a looong day).

For me, December (my birthday month, no less!) has been a month of continuous crises, one after the other: I got an eye infection in my right eye, then it jumped to the left eye, then it came back to the right (this included two eye doctor visits and antibiotics and a lot of stress).

Then, my website crashed and I had to find a new web developer after my former one (who’d been with me for 5 years) suddenly vanished.

And some other unpleasant things on top of that. I won’t bore you.

The point is that when we’re faced with a seemingly endless onslaught of crises, problems, unexpected malfunctions, sickness, things going wrong… it can be exhausting.

A period like this tests our stamina, our resilience, our capacity to remain present.

A period of multiple crises (or one BIG crisis moment) challenges our ability and willingness to experience whatever is happening in the present moment.

We want to run away from it. Make it stop. Find someone or something that can magically drop from the sky and make all the wrongness and unpleasantness go away.

But what if these moments of crisis are – as they say in the spiritual community – not happening TO us, but happening FOR us?

(Trust me, I hate having to explore that question in the midst of something really uncomfortable… and yet I always come back to the recognition that it’s the only way forward. The only way to make some sense of things, and start to feel more empowered again – like at least I have some choice in deciding how to look at things.)

An eye infection, how is that happening FOR me (and not to me)? Perhaps it was a message about slowing down, about closing my eyes and going within, about not forgetting to take some time for myself before jumping into all my big plans for 2024.

A website crash, how is that happening FOR me (and not to me)? As my wise friend Rachel said, this was about taking back full autonomy and ownership over my website… which previously I had left in the hands of another person.

Now, changing our perception doesn’t mean we should try to avoid the natural feelings and sensations that arise in response to a crisis – of course we will feel threatened, scared, anxious, stressed, agitated. These are normal physiological reactions.

What we’re concerned with here is what comes after that initial reaction to the crisis… how do we choose to see what’s happening? How do we choose to help ourselves move through it?

The next time something unpleasant happens in your life, ask yourself: what’s the potential growth here? Or, how can I use this to get better at staying present with myself, even in the midst of discomfort?

If I can do it, you can do it.

With lots of love and wishing you happy + peaceful holidays,
Josephine

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