rauner_burqa-002Do you value something if it comes for free? 
Sometimes the most challenging situations are the ones that grow us the most. Thanks, a lot! That was more than I bargained for…

A client of mine is in the grip of grief and anger over a break up. To shift his perspective I had him list all that he learned from the relationship. The list was significant! Unfortunately, the cost for all that learning is pain. Doesn’t make it easier but it does help to see that there’s a return on our willingness to grow.

I recently participated in a creative project that stretched me to grow. I was the only white woman in a play with a mostly Southeast Asian cast. I was in culture shock at the high chaos factor and it wasn’t pretty. My irritation and impatience were amplified. My habitual response to chaos is, “Ok then, I’ll work harder” while fuming and resenting people around me for not sharing my work ethic. I did not feel supported by the management of the project. I knew I should go with the flow but knowing that was not making it happen.

It’s easy to be serene on a yoga mat or meditation cushion. But when we jump into the fire and get down and dirty with our triggers, that’s when change can happen. The fire creates the alchemy. The currency is our blood, sweat and tears. The payoff is all the energy that gets freed up on the other side once we shift out of stuck patterns.

The problem is that from the inside of a challenge it’s easier to see the cost than the rewards. In my project the cross cultural factors amplified my personal challenge. And yet every day sharing the planet with other beings offers us ample “growth opportunities” should we choose to accept. Even driving down the street we get to interface with other drivers following their personal agendas. Am I going to close down and blame or open up to see how I’m organized? That is the question…

Extremely frustrated, I headed to the final dress rehearsal and received the perfect text from a dear friend:

“Bless it all and everyone in it and surrender. Magic happens on stage. I don’t know how or why things work out. They just do. Count on it working out. What have you got to lose?”

Her words dropped in deep. Interestingly, sometimes in our most challenged moments we can actually hear most acutely. As a bodyworker I know this: people in pain really pay attention and are willing to change. Yet another reason to be grateful for strife, definitely a wake up call.

I had stepped into a bigger picture trust. I was almost giddy from the perspective shift: I could see that the frustrations that were coming up for me were exactly the ones I needed to grow, to bring me up to the next level, to awaken my presence.

I was able to depersonalize others’ choices. We were all reacting to stress, how interesting to see that we did it so differently. It was a gift to learn to see my patterns clearly and to find choice. Wow. I can actually soften rather than wind myself up like a tight coil. I can do my job well without judging others or needing things to be a certain way. I even let a fellow cast member laugh at me for being “a stickler” and I let it roll off my back. Was that me? I hardly recognized myself.

In the end the rapport with the cast was hard won and hugely gratifying. We shared boundless laughter. I felt like I’d spent a few months in another culture without leaving home. And I got to keep the souvenir presents from the journey. Or should I say “presence”?