How are you doing this week? I want to check in with you. If you or a family member are being affected by the natural disaster happening on the gulf coast, you are in my thoughts and prayers – not just for this week, but for the long road to recovery that is also to come. For those of us not in the midst of this disaster, the greatest service we can give in this time is to allow it to humble us. Nature is a force that we cannot control, and it quickly reminds us of how fleeting our surroundings and our safety is.
From that humble place, I want to talk to you about something I’ve been trying to put together for myself in the hopes of helping you if you’re struggling with something similar. I call it “walking the line”. As you all know by now, I am a feeler. And by feeler I mean, I feel EVERYTHING. Some days I curse the fact that I was not born as Wonder Woman or Super Woman, truly being able to just go out and fix everything for people in pain.
I believe this drive to help is innate in all of us, and depending on our life’s circumstances it evolves to different personality expressions as we develop. If you’re reading this, you’re innate drive to help has turned you into a helper. The shadow side of the helper is the martyr archetype, and it’s something we need to be aware of as helpers in order to manage the balance a helper needs to sustain his/herself.
So by “walking the line”, this is what I mean. How do we witness the suffering that’s happening (i.e. what’s happening in Houston), without shutting down and losing hours of our day obsessing over it, getting sucked into internet black holes, and jumping on an emotional roller coaster that makes it hard to get things done? How do we navigate the guilt that shows up when we see our brothers and sisters suffering, while we are comfortable at home? Especially as helpers, this can be a huge challenge. At the same time, how do we not numb out and distract ourselves? These intense human experiences remind us that we depend on each other – so it’s hugely important that we show up.
I believe the answer is found in navigating that line, and we each have our own unique line. In yoga class or in personal development, they’ll often talk about finding your “edge”. Basically, this is the point where you feel sustainable effort expressed. It’s slightly uncomfortable because you’re expressing effort, yet sustainable because you moderate the effort.
Here is how I’m navigating this process:
1) Show up when it is in alignment. Your resources available (time, financial situation, ability to take off of work, etc.) dictate what you can do. When you feel called to go be of service or to do something, take action when it’s in alignment. This might mean collecting items for donation, doing research to connect with organizations on the ground, or actually going to ground zero. Try to put any comparison or guilt aside and just take the action that presents itself with the resources you have available.
For me, that has meant showing up in my community to support those who are organizing action. We’ve had so many traumatic things happen this year, and each time I go back to the solidarity of showing up with those that care about the same things to take action together.
2) Moderate your energy. Similar to what I talked about in #1, we also need to recognize the capacity you are able to run at will vary with the myriad of stressors in your life. Alas, we are fully human. This is honestly the hardest part for me, but I also find some relief in this reminder. We do need rest. We do need surroundings that allow us to take a moment to connect in. You deserve this, as does each and every person. We actually don’t do anyone any favors by not making it available to yourself – either out of guilt or out of striving (i.e. trying to get it all done – it’s never done, or trying to be it all – it all is always changing and you end up burning out).
I’ve definitely been struggling with this one lately. I’m realizing I have a lot to unwind here, primarily in this idea of getting it all done – or productivity. It’s such a mind trap! And yet, getting things done is part of how I show up and serve, so I can’t just throw it out the window. This is my edge right now. I’m really trying to enjoy the process behind creating, enjoy the people I interact with on this path, and truly enjoy the times that have a bit more space so that it seeps into my being.
I listened to a powerful lesson from Mel Robbins on this yesterday through her Creative live class. She said, “You start to believe you can do something when you see yourself doing it.” So, for a while you’re doing it and not believing you can do it, but then as you see yourself doing it you begin to believe it. That is my challenge for me and for you, let’s honor our limits and truly step back when we need to so that we can show up FULLY when it’s our turn.
A few fun things I’ve been geeking out on this week:
- Mel Robbins CreativeLive class on breaking the habit of self doubt.
- Glennon Doyle Melton’s new “Coffee & Revolution” SHOW (yes, one of the first!) on Facebook. This first episode is on turning your pain into power. So fitting.
With that, I’ll turn it over to you. What is helping you walk the line these days?
(Photo Cred: Julien Lux via Unsplash)