And so it goes… from the mundane “I don’t want the days to be getting shorter…” to the deeper heartfelt plaintive wail “Nooooo!” that goes along with a life-changing diagnosis or the death of a loved one, there are so many moments when we don’t like what’s happening. We really can’t stand that this is our reality. We desperately want things to be different.
But, this is the way it is right now…
Signs you might be at war with reality
Wondering if you are at war with your reality?
If you find yourself thinking or saying anything like this, you might be at war with reality:
It shouldn’t be…
How did this happen? This isn’t how my kids were raised!
I can’t deal with this!
This person/company/country cannot be doing this…
NO! I refuse to believe it! (that one’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?)
What do you do now?
If you find yourself accepting that you are at war with reality (possibly and probably more often than you know), what do you do?
One of the key principles of mindfulness is to be with what is. Easier said than done, for sure. Yet, when we are able to do so, there is a softening, a tiny relaxing, a teeny sense of ease that sinks in simply because we have let go of resisting.
When we resist, we tighten in order to hold on to something or to brace ourselves against something, and in the tightening and bracing, our unhappiness, struggle, and suffering increases significantly. Not only is this thing going on, but now we’ve added an internal battle against it.
Being with what IS doesn’t mean we have to like it. It simply means that we need to accept that it is indeed here in this moment. From that place, we are able to sit with it, see how it lands in us, and then be in a place where we can more consciously ask the question, “OK, this is happening. Now what?”
I’m not asking you to deny your resistance or denial – that would only complicate things further. Be with your feelings of sadness, anger, fear, or grief. Be with them as long and as often as they arise. That is absolutely part of the practice of being with what’s real. You’re feeling this way – give yourself the space and compassion to be exactly where you are in this moment.
Then lay down the sword that’s fighting whatever has caused you so much angst and lean into your experience. When you face it head on, with the acceptance that it’s here, you are much better prepared for what will come next.
The Practice of RAIN
The mindfulness practice of RAIN: Recognizing, Allowing, Investigating and Nurturing is one I’ve found to be super helpful when facing hard times. Depending on your situation, this might be a very quick practice that yields some comfort right away, or it might require a longer chunk of time or even many rounds to really find any relief.
We are not looking for a quick fix – life doesn’t work that way. We are looking for a practice that will support you as you face the challenges that life inevitably and continually throws our way.
Recognize what is happening and what you’re feeling – “My child just betrayed me. I’m pissed!”
Allow it to be here, just as it is – rather than pushing it away and wishing it weren’t so, make room for the anger, and recognize that your heart truly is able to hold it all.
Investigate – with kindness and curiosity, not mentally, but in your body – where does this anger land? How does it feel? “Ah, my jaw is clenched. My stomach is in a knot. I’m barely breathing.”
Nurture – bring loving compassion to yourself. What do you need in this moment? How can you care for yourself in this state of anger? What kind of loving support do you want right now?
After the RAIN, simply soak it in… allow it to nourish you to your roots. Then, just like plants and flowers do after a real rain, you are able to open up and blossom once again.
Simply by allowing yourself to have the reaction you’re having, taking the time to be with yourself and notice and name what’s going on, to inquire how you might care for yourself or ask for the support you need, you’ve already loosened its grip on you. You’ve given yourself a chance to step into some practices that might actually nurture, nourish, and support you to face this thing that is causing so much despair.
It’s a Practice
Like so many things, it’s a practice. A practice of being aware and being with. Practices ask us to repeat them over and over. Practices allow us to forget them and then to remember, over and over again. A practice isn’t something you do once and check it off of your list.
For more about RAIN, I recommend checking out Tara Brach’s resources here. She has a number of talks, writings, and meditations to deepen into this beautiful self-compassion practice.
Because, when we are at war with reality, we are certainly not being kind or gentle to ourselves. We are struggling within our own experience, and we suffer from this fight.
May today you greet yourself with loving kindness. May you find peace. May you allow your experience to be just as it is. May you live with ease.
Wishing you so much goodness.
I’d love to hear how this lands with you and please share your experiences both of resisting and of allowing. What are your signals that you’re at war with reality and what’s worked to support you in moving through these times?
Please join the conversation below.