“Without the strength to endure the crisis, one will not see the opportunity within. It is within the process of endurance that opportunity reveals itself.” — Chin-Ning Chu, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, as quoted in Think and Grow Rich for Women.
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Such a non-sexy word in a world of instant gratification, longing for overnight success and doing what only feels good.
Actually, now that I think about it, perhaps the ability to do what feels good is BECAUSE of endurance, and not in spite of it.
After all, how can you enjoy the strength, agility and flexibility of a healthy body without the ability to endure the discipline of exercise and healthy diet?
How can you enjoy the freedom, flow and fun that comes from making your own rules, being your own boss, or achieving whatever other dream your heart desires, without the endurance to continue even when you want to quit, or when it looks like it’s not working, or it (momentarily) stops being fun.
This is an interesting conversation to enter because the more I get into personal development, the more I’ve been learning about flow, alignment, and challenging previously cherished ideals that glorified pain and struggle.
These ideals came from my own experience with trauma, but to truly thrive, we must learn to let go of the story that life is hard and embrace a bigger truth —
Life can feel really good.
In fact, I think life is supposed to feel good.
The pain, sadness, anger, anxiety we feel, these are signs that we’re out of alignment. Doing things that are not meant for us, or aligned with our souls.
We’ve all bought into the collective lie that’s it’s virtuous to suffer.
We feel GUILTY when we feel good, and that’s the real problem. Like pleasure is a sin.
It’s not, and we can only truly be of service to the world, infuse it with more loving energy, and help people and causes who need it, when we allow ourselves to bask in the infinite pleasure available to us.
But first — endurance.
When we break into a new layer, there’s always a layer of atmospheric turbulence. Old paradigms don’t WANT to break. They’re dense and heavy.
Transcending them requires embodying your new desired reality for a long enough time to disrupt the heavy energy of the old paradigm, meaning the thoughts, beliefs and unhealed wounds that have created a reality with more pain, darkness, stress, and limitation than is necessary.
(This is why it’s so important to have support along the journey. To not only illuminate the invisible, suffocating beliefs keeping you entrenched in pain and suffering, but also to support you as that atmospheric turbulence seeks to stop you from breaking through. Mentors help you go further, faster.)
Breaking through that atmospheric pressure — THAT is endurance.
I’m the least likely person to be writing to you about this topic.
I used to quit everything. Until my late 20s, I didn’t have a job or a boyfriend for longer than three months.
I once lived in seven states in three years.
I thrived off my long-awaited (until I left the house, really) ability to move and do wherever the fuck I wanted.
Things got uncomfortable? I’d leave.
It began to feel hard? I’d quit.
I had zero ability to sit with discomfort, and this started with my inability to sit with painful feelings, even though at the time, I didn’t know that was the true cause.
I lacked serenity, that feeling of being at peace in my body.
My experience was the exact opposite.
I lived with a relentless premonition there was someplace else to be.
That I was supposed to be somewhere else, and because I wasn’t I was ruining my life.
With bad choice, after bad choice.
I couldn’t sit still, and constantly felt the need to run away, only there was never anywhere to go.
As soon as I arrived someplace new, I’d immediately start plotting my next steps.
This was never-ending.
Always hoping the solution was in the next place, on the next adventure, inside some other person, and then inevitably…
Being so disappointed and disheartened and feeling like there was something wrong with me when The Thing could never be found.
And then I got cancer.
Four months of treatment, and then surgery.
For the first time in my life, there was nowhere to run.
I had to sit. Feel the physical pain. The exhaustion. The fear. The discomfort.
I couldn’t run away.
For the first time, I realized it was all inside of me.
It hurt, but it brought me to the present.
The words kept repeating inside my mind, “This is a season of endurance.”
Only, I had no idea what was coming.
I thought after treatment, I’d be able to start running again.
But the emotional pain only grew. It was like a soldier, coming home only to find the nightmare of the battle field had followed her. And no longer was she surrounded by others who know exactly what she went through, but instead a sea of civilians who can’t understand the horror.
They want the soldier back, the same as she was before he left, but that person is gone. She doesn’t exist anymore. Some believe the expectation to return to normal as if nothing ever happened is the true cause of PTSD.
Not the incident. Not in a space where there is a community of people all enduring together.
But after the war ends, or the soldier returns home.
I may not have fought a foreign war, but survived one inside my body.
After it ended, everyone expected me to go back to normal.
But the girl I once was, her innocence, her pure desire to outrun her pain — she was gone. For better or worse, she had learned how to endure.
Around this time, I lost my mind.
I’d scream into pillows, fill my car with an ungodly, anguished shrieking.
My husband would anxiously plead for me to hush. “What if the neighbors call the cops?”
My co-workers didn’t understand. “Why are you so angry?” they asked.
Things sometimes get worse before they get better.
All I wanted to do was leave. I wanted to stop enduring and start running, but life sat me down and told me to shut up. I was going to have to learn how to endure some more.
Joe and I stayed in the small Arizona town we both grew to hate for a year after treatment ended, for various reasons.
When we finally moved outside Phoenix, I soon hated it there, too.
That’s what running does. When you’re making decisions wanting to be anywhere but here, or from the energy of resistance, running from yourself…
You take that quality of self-hate, resistance, and anywhere but here wherever you go, whatever new job, town, relationship or other circumstance.
You’re not directing your life, but creating a series of spasmodic circumstances based on your unwillingness to feel your pain. Only when you’re truly rooted inside yourself can you connect to your true desires.
However, connecting to the true you requires sitting with the layers of unfelt emotions that have accumulated over possibly a lifetime.
This is why the platform of all real change starts with accepting everything exactly as it is. Going within. And facing all the things you’d rather run away from.
Finally, thankfully, I recognized the insanity and went within.
Started to meditate. Feel my feelings. Stopped running away.
The shifts were miraculous.
Finally, I could sit inside myself for long enough to write without feeling like the effort of translating my energy into words was shrapnel from within seeking to slice open my skin.
Finally I accepted living someplace I hated so that I could begin the process of creating real change in my life, change based on acceptance rather than resistance.
That’s how I finally started my blog — the thing I always wanted to do, but never could because I couldn’t stop running from myself.
Finally I had the skills to continue even when things got hard.
Over the course of building my blog and business, I’ve cried so many tears and wanted to give up so many times.
(Giving up or never trying may seem comfortable, but actually guarantees long-term pain. The consequence of that decision is a life lived out of alignment with your true self, which will NEVER lead to happiness. At best, it guarantees a sleepy life of boredom and conformity.)
For those reasons, I’d always conclude — nah. I’m not giving up.
This is what I want. I can’t stop.
And that is because I learned endurance.
Because in the depths of my pain, I learned how to stop running away.
I learned how to dig deeper even when I thought I’d given it my all.
I learned how to stop fantasizing that some moment other than this was where I was supposed to be, and learned that life is right here, right now, even when I don’t want it to be.
The truth doesn’t care what you think of it.
It’s easy to want life to save you, but life put you exactly where you are, so you learn to save yourself. Click To Tweet
So you would dig deep and grow strong roots so you can blossom oh so big.
And now — with each passing day I open my capacity to receive joy, freedom, power and strength.
Rooting down in the knowing that I am the daughter of the Earth and Sky.
The power of unseen forces all resides in me.
I’ve connected to my power. Wield it like a goddess, and grow more confident in that all the time.
Because I learned how to endure. Stopped running away.
And maybe this is where the balance comes in —
There will be a time, too, when you’re called to release the struggle, drop the heavy weight of being so good at suffering and pain, and learn to fly.
This is the contradiction inherent in endurance.
It’s like what they say about entrepreneurship — it’s doing what others won’t so you can live like they can’t.
When you learn to stick with it, to stay the course, to feel the feelings and stop running away, anything is possible.
I guess you can learn to endure the pain of living a life that’s not true to you, or you can endure the pain of breaking free from everything that suffocates you. The choice is yours.
Don’t let the slick social media feeds fool you —
Behind the scenes of anything glamorous and beautiful, there is a whole lot of grunt and grind.
The deeper you go, the higher you rise.
Learn how to endure, and then you will see — everything you want, it’s already yours.
Just keep showing up. And also — be careful what you’re enduring.
What do you think?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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All the love,
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