In life, there are all sorts of phases we go through.
Sometimes life just flows and everything goes our way.
Other times, it’s like pulling teeth and nothing is unfolding the way we want it to.
A few people in my life at the moment are going through the pulling of teeth phase; where they are being presented with heartache, or sadness or constant road blocks.
I’d like to talk about these times, because we all go through them yet we sometimes aren’t all that willing to own up to being uncomfortable, lost or a bit disorientated.
It’s a sign of weakness, I hear some of you say.
Well, if you ask me, putting your hand up and saying to someone “I’m struggling, I don’t know what to do,” is one of the strongest things a human can do.
There is a sense of surrender in that sentence.
A sense of ease.
Because until this point, you are still pushing.
Still trying to work the puzzle out.
You’ve still got an element of seeming control because you still believe you can figure it out on your own.
But when you put your hand up, and say “I don’t know what to do,” with it, you wave a little white flag; and there is ease in that, because you are no longer forcing.
Instead you are coming face to face with what is; which is a problem that you can’t solve.
These times in our lives make it very tempting to throw ourselves on the floor and pound our fists because “it's not fair,” but if we are humble enough, being in this space allows us to look inward, and skyward.
This space, the “I don’t know what to do,” allows us to reflect on what is happening and how we’re handling it.
We get to witness how we are reacting.
In 2012, I was in France looking for work on a superyacht.
All of my friends had gotten work in the first month or so, and I was the only one who had lived in about five different apartments and not found a job in three months.
I spent those months walking docks, seeing crew agents, introducing myself to anyone I thought might work on a boat and going to all the yachtie pubs in hope of striking up a conversation with the right person.
I was optimistic.
It was challenging but I stuck my chest out every day and got on with it.
I was totally in control.
Everything was fine.
Until one day, it wasn’t.
One day, I woke up and was honest enough with myself to realise that being broke, having no job and no idea how long I needed to make ten euros last for wasn’t okay anymore.
That’s the first time I looked inward, and in turn, skyward – to the universe – and said “I don’t know what to do.”
In that moment, I felt ease, because I was allowing the puzzle to be there.
I accepted that it was a puzzle, and I didn’t know how to solve it.
It was the first time I’d turned to something greater than myself for a bit of back up.
I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get out of the situation; how I was going to get a job and get money fast.
There seemed to be road blocks everywhere; yet turning my power over to something greater than myself allowed me to see how little control I actually had in the first place.
I want you to know that these times come to us to test us.
Almost as a report card from the universe.
How much can you handle?
How much grace do you have?
Is this the sort of person you want to be?
After battling with life and then tiring of the war and accepting that you have no idea what to do brings you to a space where self reflection and self evaluation rises to the surface.
What sort of person have I been through all of this?
What sort of partner have I been lately and how do I want to be going forward?
What sort of sibling, friend, or citizen have I been and how do I want to be as of today?
Who do I want to show up as, for myself?
So I ask you – do you want to beat yourself up over things you can’t control, or do you want to show up for the assignment that the universe is giving you, and look within yourself at what this has come to teach you?
The outside world always reflects how we are doing on the inside.
If life is testing you, it’s an opportunity to get a practical view of how you are doing as a person, in the way you are handling yourself and the way you treat other people in the face of hardship.
It’s a hurdle the universe is asking you to overcome.
The more resistance you show towards that hurdle, the higher the hurdle becomes.
It’s like the ‘elephant in the room’ metaphor.
When you blatantly resist or ignore a problem, the ‘elephant’ gets so big it almost squashes you, until you decide to face it.
This is the same thing.
When you face the elephant, you accept that it’s there.
It’s in acknowledging the problem and waving the white flag that is the hardest bit because it means swallowing your pride.
So when you say hello to the obstacle, and you acknowledge that you have no idea what to do about it, that’s when you get to look at it from an entirely new perspective, because you are seeing it for what is it.
It’s actually not some huge mountain, but merely a check point.
It’s the universe checking in with you, to see how you are doing and how receptive you are to learning the lessons it wants to teach you.
A rough patch in life is where the universe asks you to stop; to come up for air and recalibrate; to get conscious and to see where you’re at as a person.
If you are awake enough to it, this is when the universe gives you feedback on how you’re doing in spite of the hurdles.
Use this check point.
Witness your reactions, your thoughts and your fears.
Surrender to them.
Allow them to be there and live in the question; “I don‘t know what to do,” because the answer won’t appear until you’ve shown that you are ready to pass the class.
Always ask “what is this here to teach me?”
Instead of being committed to the answer, become committed to the question.
“What is this here to teach me?”
Show grace; show the universe that you are here to learn and that you are worthy of the lesson.
Accept the discomfort as a check point, deliberately designed for you to witness where you’re at, and to decide if the person you’re being, is the person you really want to be.
The answer will always be in witnessing your reactions, your fears and how you treat other people despite being royally uncomfortable.
Wave that white flag and I promise you, the universe will see you and the problem will eventually dissolve once you have lived in the question long enough to organically come into the answer.