Stop trying so hard - The Alchemy of Adversity

Stop Trying So Hard

Yesterday was one of those days. Things went wrong.

The pollen was irritating my eyes making it hard to see my computer screen. The tripod fell apart just as we were about to go live with the message for the day. The live itself crashed about halfway through. And those are just the highlights.

The irony of it all? The topic of that live was The Alchemy of Adversity – how transformation happens for us within our difficult times.

As the day unfolded, I calmly met each challenge, adjusted accordingly, and kept on going. I learned a helpful workaround for each obstacle. By the end of the day, I breathed relief and silently congratulated myself on not losing it.

And then the mind chatter started.

It started with that day’s hiccups, then quickly spiraled out into a huge tangle of doubts about everything I’m doing and how I’m doing it. Life in general. And went downhill from there.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes, no matter how much personal, healing, or spiritual work we’ve done, no matter how much coaching or therapy we’ve had, being human kicks in and we find ourselves feeling stuck, blocked, triggered, defeated, dejected, worthless, or tired. Maybe all of them at once. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up refreshed, only my mind wouldn’t stop bouncing around.

As I lay in bed with my brain feeling like a pinball machine, that still small voice spoke; Stop trying so hard. Slow down. You don’t have to fix everything today. Tune in to the alchemical medicine happening right now.

And there it was. A hefty dose of taking my own medicine.

The battlefield of my brain had been literally blinding me. In that whirling state of unwanted thoughts I’d forgotten that even unwanted thoughts are full of wisdom and healing coming from the inside out. All I really needed to do was tune inward, past the distraction of the brain battlefield to the guidance buried within. The guidance we are each born with. The inner guidance that is our birthright as souls living in a skin suit.

That guidance is not the result of some exhausting search out there somewhere. Life and love are not waiting for you to go out and find them. There’s not some magic formula for healing, awakening, or transforming BEFORE life and love can find you. Healing, awakening, and transforming ARE life. They are already within waiting to become found by you, and can always be found in the core of wherever you have forgotten to look.

But here is what we CAN do together…

On any given day, some of us will be caught in looping spiraling thoughts. Some of us will be crashing in shame and self-judgement. Some days, our inner critic will have a lot to say. Other days, our anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, or uncertainty will have us in its clutches. Like a drowning person, we hardly have the energy or strength to reach for help. Hopelessness creeps in.

And on those same days, others of us will feel strong, calm, centered. We have a little strength and calm to spare, to share. Not to fix anything – because nothing needs fixing – but to simply hold someone for a moment, to let them bask softly in our lap of calm knowing they will do the same for us on another day when the tables are turned.

And on many days, the person who feels strong, calm, and centered is our own inner self, just waiting for us to tune inward and remember it’s there.

We can’t think our way out of these moments. No matter how hard we work at it, we can’t make the negative thoughts and feelings go away just by telling them to. And if we try to bury them under positive thinking, they’ll just pop out somewhere else. They have a message, a gift, for us, and they will not be denied the giving of it.

But we can relax into the alchemy that is happening, the alchemical medicine that is healing us from the inside out.

We can choose to be lovingly present with the difficulties of the moment. We can listen to the message it brings rather than fighting the way it’s coming to us. Those spiraling thoughts are acting like toddlers needing attention, and will be happy to calm down when they get it. We think the spiraling thoughts bring catastrophe, but instead they bring wisdom and healing IF we are willing to relax into the alchemy of this particular adversity.

True healing doesn’t have anything to do with getting rid of, or learning to ignore, our negative thoughts. They are messengers. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Healing is not destination. It’s not about fixing everything right now and never having to fix anything again.

Healing isn’t about trying at all. It’s about surrendering. It’s about embracing the becoming. It’s about welcoming the alchemy of adversity and allowing it to bring more of your own inner wisdom out of hiding. It’s about becoming found again.

Joseph Campbell said, “... in the cave you fear to enter, lies the treasure you seek.” You willingness to enter into that cave where negativity, hurt feelings, embarrassment, and all their friends hide out is the only secret to getting out of their clutches.


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