Trusting the Process

Have you ever been traveling to a new destination, guided solely by the navigation device either installed in your vehicle or on your Smartphone?

Recently, I was traveling in a different area of the county, and was using the Smartphone application, Waze, for directions and navigation.  When I set out on my trip, I had a vague idea of where I was going, or least I thought I knew where I was going.  Then the Waze instructed me to turn down an unfamiliar road, and I found myself cruising through a residential neighbor. 

As the anxious feelings arouse within me, I checked the Waze to ensure that I had correctly input my destination address.  I had.  Since I was on a tight schedule, there wasn’t time to double-back to the route I thought I should take.  Instead, I would have to trust.  To trust this app on my Smartphone.  To trust the satellites off which the app was basing my location and the location of my destination.  I would have to trust that I would arrive on-time, as expected. 

The anxiety subsided when I finally observed a street sign indicating that I was head in the right direction, and shortly thereafter arrived without incident.  The Waze was right, and the lesson about trust was obvious.

We trust chairs every time we sit on them.  Without hesitation, we trust that automatic doors will open upon our approach.  Yet, when it comes to our own thoughts and feelings, we hesitate.  We question whether we “should” feel the way that we feel.  We doubt whether our opinions and voices matter.  Like the Waze experience, life is a process that we must learn to trust.

That is not to say that we walk blindly through life without regard for outcomes.  Trusting the process is acknowledging that life is full of lessons to be learned and experiences to be had.  Our emotions are never wrong, they just are. 

Our emotions communicate, validate and motivate.  In fact, Dr. Marsha Linehan identifies the functions of emotions, and in the theory behind Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, she encourages us to approach our emotions with friendly curiosity.  Recognizing and embracing our emotions for what they are; indicators.  Sending and receiving information from and to the world around us.  Emotions are also motivational.  According to dynamic psychotherapy, all emotions can be placed into two categories, activating or inhibitory.  Activating emotions motivate us to approach, engage and become open and willing.  Whereas inhibitory emotions prompt us to withdrawal, resist and protect.  Both have equally important functions.  Viewed from these perspectives, emotions can guide us through life, validating our very existence.

Trusting our emotions is like trusting the Waze app.  While there was clear uncertainty as to whether the app would effectively guide me to my desired destination, there was a willingness to see it through.  However, if the Waze instructed me to turn the wrong way down a one way street, or drive through a “DO NOT ENTER” barrier, I could draw on other resources to make a safer decision.  If our emotions are to be considered indicators, we must be equally mindful that those same emotions do not become dictators.  Thrusting us into behaviors and situations that can be harmful and ineffective, because no matter how intense the emotion; feelings are not facts. 

Next time a feeling wells up in you, rather than immediately attempting to numb it, escape it, or suppress it, what if we invited it in with friendly curiosity to determine what it wants to tell us.  Trusting the process of learning about ourselves and the world around us.

Be well my friends, and live present

Dirt

Have you ever planted a seed in the dirt?  Maybe you were hoping to grow some fresh basil or a rose bush. Whatever the desired outcome, a small seed was planted with high hopes that it would be transformed into something different. 

Once the seed is planted, our job becomes one marked by waiting.  It is true that we need to water the seed and expose it to the necessary sunlight. Most of all, we wait.  If we had the time and inclination to watch the seed as it progressed through its growth cycle, we might see an interesting sight.  Just before the seedling brings to life the fruit or vegetation that was planted, a little dirt comes up.

The dirt is being pushed out of the way in order to make room for the new growth that is to come. 

Life is a lot like that seedling.  When we make life changes, we are in essence planting a seed. Hopefully we are planting that seed in fertile ground, which in life could mean making changes that are supported by our environment and the people with whom we surround ourselves.  However, there are also those times when we know certain changes will grow us and transform us.  Yet, life has a different idea in mind.

That’s dirt. 

Change is difficult for a multitude of reasons. One of which is the inherent loss associated with every change.  Rick Warren is famously quoted as saying; “There is no growth, without change. There is no change, without loss. There is no loss, without pain. There is no pain, without fear”.  The second half of that quote asserts that habits, even when they are unhelpful, are likened to a worn out shoe.  The shoe, like old habits, may no longer be serving its intended purpose, yet remains comfortable and familiar and all the more difficult to leave behind. 

Discomfort precipitates change, and gives hope that with the newness will come comfort.  Instead what we get is …. dirt.  Our changes may be thwarted by environmental factors, or the people in our lives may begin to pushing back because our change forces them to change as well. Either way, the dirt we experience is merely making way for the transformation that is sure to come. 

When we plant seeds, let us be prepared for the dirt that comes with growth and let us be clothed in patience.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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“Life is a journey, not a destination”

This quote has been used to encourage many who either find themselves in the midst of a struggle, or are merely struggling to wait patiently to obtain what life has for them.  The question, however, is whether it is true? Is life about the journey?

When I hear the word “journey”, I liken it to an adventure.  With an adventure being chalked full of excitement, curiosity and even a twinge of fear.  Throughout all the twist and turns that an adventure is sure to bring, it typically has a happy ending.  Consider for a moment the adventure that young Dorothy Gale embarked on in her quest to find the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. In the 1939 film, viewers meet Dorothy after she has had an unfortunate run-in with a contentious neighbor, Mrs. Gulch.  Dorothy is upset by the distressing encounter, setting in to motion a series of events that lands her, quite literally, in a strange place, far from home and all alone.

Dorothy’s journey, like many others, originated from a place of distress and ended with the experience of joy and gratitude.  While The Wizard of Oz is a fictional story, it depicts a theme that can commonly be witness in everyday life circumstances. 

As humans, we tend to do what is working for us, until it isn’t.  Then we seek out change.  Whether the change we seek is prompted by our favorite jeans fitting too tightly or feeling deeply alone in a relationship with a spouse. Discomfort often precipitates change.  In fact, we embark on journeys when we become dissatisfied with our current position or situation, and go in search of something new or better.

Ironically, in the quest to find “better”, we also find ourselves facing new obstacles and challenges that stretch us to tap into resources we did not know we had.  Many of those resources can be found within.  Yet, some resources present themselves in the form of a person who travels alongside us on our journey.  These “allies” that we meet along the way are not required to join us.  However their mere presence can make all the difference when facing the road ahead.

Considering the allies in your life, ask yourself whether you have learned more, grown more and gained more along your journey having a trusted ally by your side.   What valuable experiences and lessons have you picked up along the way, even if you have yet to reach your destination?  Because, let’s face it, the “destination” is really the start of a NEW journey.

Be Well my friends, and Live Loved