Losing My Balance

How did I lose my balance? I know all about spiritual detachment. I practice it in my life regularly. So what happened?  I preach the theory of investing 100% and letting go of the results,  so how come I still felt like I failed?

I think failure was inevitable.

What I keep learning, is that learning happens in phases.  It isn’t because I’m stupid. It’s isn’t because “It’s the same lesson so why didn’t I get it the first (or hundredth) time?”

I went on a date once with Glenn. He brought me a huge bag of fresh picked oranges.  He said, “Laura, do you know that if you take two different oranges off the same tree and taste one slice from each of the two different oranges and pay attention, they each taste slightly different.”  We each peeled an orange and traded a slice from our orange. It was true!

Phases sometimes look similar and repetitive, but if you pay close attention, there’s something new and slightly different  though similar.

I worked on a fundraising project for a charity hospital in India. I was so pleased with how I did and so disappointed with the response. There was no immediate financial commitment from anyone who attended. I worked so hard. I gave it my all. It’s such an important cause. I communicated it brilliantly. I was so prepared, I was thorough. Why such disappointing results? What did I do wrong? Why did I feel like I put my whole self into it and even though I get it intellectually to detach and let go of the results, why did I still feel like hiding my head in the sand?

I spent the next 3 days recovering. I could barely move. It wasn’t just physical exhaustion, it was emotional. I needed to cocoon into a little ball. I rented movies and watched them in bed and sighed a lot. It was great!

As time went by, and to my surprise, I learned donations were slowly coming in! As I learned the details, I had to stop myself from an old repetitive thinking pattern: “Yes, but it’s not enough.”  The “it’s not enough” theme is an old friend, a core belief throughout my life. When I hear it repeatedly replaying in my mind, I know I’m not in present time, I’m back in my history. So why does my mind tend toward the negative when it seems like there isn’t enough? Hmmmm….again some reflecting here brought  another level of understanding.

My father died when I was ten years old. As a young girl there wasn’t enough, on many levels. There was not enough food, not enough attention, not enough money. My mother was always working to support her three children. On Sunday nights she’d cook a big pot of bean and vegetable soup and tell us, “This is it for the week.” What did that mean when mom said, “This is it for the week?” Are we going to starve? That won’t be enough!

Fear takes us out of the present moment. It blinds us from seeing what surrounds us. That was the part mom didn’t explain. We continued for some time in this state. Then I reached 11 years old. One day I was climbing the stairs to our third floor in the apartment building when I ran into my neighbor struggling to carry her toddler in his stroller down the apartment building staircase. I offered to help her. Necessity, the mother of invention, struck. I ever so politely asked her in my most grown up voice, “Do you ever need a baby sitter?” When she replied “Yes” my heart just about jumped out of my chest with excitement. With the baby sitting money my sister and I bought White Castle hamburgers from the fast food joint on the corner of our street…a kids meal from heaven! Resiliency. I discovered strength and resiliency within when there wasn’t enough! I learned to be resourceful.

I’ve come to conclude, there’s a natural learning curve. Fear is a necessity, an important right of passage in order to grow. Fear is not there to immobilize us, it’s there to motivate us. Many of us when faced with fear do an awkward and unproductive dance. We turn back, take an alternate route, shift to blaming or complaining. We focus on imagined consequences of our feared failure rather than the options of where it could lead us if we walk toward and through it. Fear is often coupled with shame. Shame is often coupled with the fight, flight or freeze response. It feels like you’re going to die if someone sees your shame! Better to run, or pick a fight or emotionally disconnect then let someone see this level of your vulnerability!

To mobilize fear requires permission to feel vulnerable. It’s often necessary and important to contract, curl up and re-charge without self reprimand. No matter ‘how evolved’ I become, I allow myself to reach out for support and assistance when I’m ready and as needed. I walk toward my fear. I have learned to embrace my so-called failures. I wait patiently for resiliency to re-emerge. It takes time for impact to settle. I honor the timing of my inner contraction to turn around into a natural expansion. When I do this, I bring with me authenticity, depth and truth and, yes, balance.

And if I can do it, you can do it.

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Laura Fine Laura L. Fine, Founder of Lionheart Institute