I stumbled across a quote the other day that challenged me.
“Why don’t we stay in the realm of the answer, rather than always returning to the realm of the problem?”
It’s from Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, which is a challenging book, chock full of challenging quotes, but this one called me out – not called out to me but called me out.
And I say that with some gentleness, rather than scolding.
You see, I’ve discovered a variety of practices that make me feel really good, really centered, really effective. I’ve figured some things out about what my body and spirit need most to do my work in the world. And I do them… until I don’t.
This quote is me – my spiritual practices, my beliefs, my faith, my discipline, my will, my self-compassion, my business, most of my efforts really. All of them I handle with a duck-in/duck-out sort of mentality. I rarely go all in and sustain it.
I duck into meditation and then something interrupts my practice and I forget to keep doing it.
I dip into prayer and then forget to use it when I really want help or guidance.
I cherish my budding faith in the universe when I feel good and deride myself for it when things aren’t going well.
I always return to the realm of the problem.
What makes it so difficult for me to stay in the realm of the answer and what would that look like? My mind offers some very practical explanations for my dip in duck out approach.
You can’t, after all, meditate all day long. You do actually have to DO some things.
Wisdom answers: You can bring your awareness to your breath at any time. You can acknowledge your thoughts as transient and consciously choose and respond to them. You can wish for peace for yourself an others constantly.
My mind: You can’t, after all, pray all day long. You do actually have to DO some things.
Wisdom answers: You can converse with the force that binds us all day long, in snippets or treatises. You can ask for things, help, guidance. You can want and ask for more. You can see any action you take as prayer and proceed as though that is your intention. What would happen to your days if all of your actions were a prayer?
My mind: I’ve got too much to do.
Wisdom answers: When you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, your effectiveness, your efficiency, and your productivity skyrocket. You know this. Is it really the to do list that’s getting you or is that just an excuse?
And that’s when the bird poop really hits the hair, because it’s not about spirituality or personal development or woo woo practices, it’s about self-sabotage and whatever is getting in the way of feeling and being better.
It’s about being afraid to succeed.
It’s about being afraid to be different.
It’s about being afraid to change (AGAIN).
I see myself and this entire pattern as a desire to not be ALL IN.
I think I do this a lot, hold back, stop myself from being all in. I’m not sure exactly why, but I imagine it has something to do with the vulnerability inherent in being all in.
When we go all in, we are clear about what we want. We are claiming and proclaiming (at least to whoever is around) our desires, our intentions, our dreams, our wants. When we go all in we stop hedging our bets, taking half measures, protecting our behinds, busily formulating Plan Bs. When we go all in we let other options go, we release the safety of the status quo, and we step firmly into new territory with unpredictable outcomes. When we go all in, we are risking (and the alarmist in my wants to add… everything).
The fears that get in my way are the same no matter what I’m talking about.
The reasons to play it small are equally consistent.
But the reasons to go all in, those I’m less familiar with as it has not generally been my way… except that one time.
That one time I decided to try one more time. That one time I decided to remove all of the obstacles to what I wanted. That one time I took advice and sought out the best collaborator I could find. That one time I aligned my thinking with the outcome I wanted and kept it there, ditching the fear that it was all a horrible mistake. That one time I trusted that even if I didn’t get what I wanted, I would be better off for having tried – really tried. That one time I quit my stressful job, stabbed myself with needles full of hormones, got poked and prodded and examined and investigated. That one time I did EVERYTHING. That one time I got pregnant and actually carried the babies: that one time.
And I’ve taught myself the lesson by thinking maybe I had something to say to you about the struggle to be consistent with our self-care. It turns out the lesson I needed to hear today was a different one, a lesson about the gifts of real commitment and some encouragement to jump in the deep end of the pool every once in a while. The question I need to ask myself is a real one about aligning my action to my desires, about honesty and authenticity, about realizing that taking risks has always been the only way to get the things I most wanted.
And so I’m going to start to ask myself: “Are you all in?” Not to spur myself to greater levels of workaholism. Not to shame myself into some kind of to do list-making frenzy, but to check my heart, to check my thoughts, to see if I am really committing to what I say I’m trying to do, to what I say I want. The answer doesn’t have to be “Yes,” but if it’s no, then that bears looking at, right?
How about you? Where are you employing half-measures and expecting a full return? Are you all in?