Disrupt, Disturb, Detour

I am someone who finds comfort in keeping order, having a routine, and holding tightly to my intentions.  Much of the time it is to my benefit.  I get a clear idea of what I want and I go after it like a hungry lion.  Little things don’t get in my way and when they do I just run faster, try harder, be stronger.  Then, I pant, out of breath, and set my next goal and go after it.  It can be exhausting but I have always been this way.   This can be a great mode to be in as it helps me handle adversity, I don’t expect things to be easy, and I often get what I want.  Until I don’t.  When obstacles get in my way, I rarely stop and think, “huh, this is more challenging than I thought, perhaps I will change my course of action” or “maybe this isn’t the right time for this goal.” I wind up having very little compassion for myself and often see myself as week or inept for not being able to make what I want to happen, happen.   I don’t always see the toll it takes on myself or those around me.  I get a kind of tunnel-vision and instead of broadening my perspective, cutting myself some slack or allowing myself to proceed with a more gentle and realistic approach (that might lead to an even better plan), I often cling tightly to the “original plan.”

Pema Chodron states, “We spend all our energy and waste our lives trying to re-create these zones of safety, which are always falling apart. That’s the essence of samsara – the cycle of suffering that comes from continuing to seek happiness in all the wrong places.” That is precisely what I am doing and I often don’t understand why, if I stay vigilantly “in the zone,” I would ever fail even under circumstances beyond my control. I also struggle to see when failure in one area might lay the groundwork to succeed in alternate area.  However until I understood why I cling so tightly to my intentions, it was hard for me to be compassionate to myself.  I cling tightly because I’m trying to avoid pain, disappointment, and discomfort. I don’t want to be caught off guard.  What Pema Chodron also says is that people challenge their comfort zones in different ways and while some people feel challenged when they leave the country, others feel challenged when they don’t get to sit in their favorite chair at their dining room table.  She has so much compassion for people, including herself; she understands that “challenge” looks very different to each of us.   So what’s the point?

The point is that I find it hard to follow the often prescribed “compassion for self” concept until I know what exactly I need compassion for. What Pema Chodron helped me understand is that much of my obsession with plans, order, and routine is often purely my desire to feel safe…which I deserve to feel, as we all do.  Again, this vigilance often turns out well as this type of neurotic personality is rewarded in our society (think of all the apps that have been invented to help us plan, calendar, track, list, organize, predict est…). However I would also like to be able to recognize when my basic human desire to feel safe (being able to predict) gets in the way of me being able to see that disrupting, disturbing, or detouring from the original plan could be in my best interest.

In true Buddhist fashion, I challenge us all to just notice when a change in plan and/or a lack of predictability brings us anxiety, fear, or sadness.

**If you want help taking ownership of your time, contact me about my time-management workshop.   It’s fun, personal, and will leave you with a calendar you will love.  Interested in shaking things up? Contact me about my individual, couples, or group Vision Board workshop and discover new ways of creative planning.