What does it mean to live through our problems? On a base level, I suppose it means that we don’t go around our problems — or avoid them altogether — but we keep stepping forward, experiencing the subtle nuances of our life with strength and grace. We move through the forest of life even if a few branches fall along our path. We decide if we walk over these branches, pick them up to move them, or sit down to take a rest before continuing our walk. There are, indeed, so many ways to live through daily challenges.
The card I am holding in this picture is from Melody Beattie’s card deck called The Language of Letting Go. (The illustrator of these beautiful cards is Elizabeth Rosen.) On the back side of the card, Beattie writes:
“Today I will go on living my life and tending to my routines. I will decide, as often as I need to, to stop obsessing about whatever is bothering me. If I don’t feel like letting go of something, I will ‘act as if’ I’ve let go of it until my feelings match my behavior.”
I would love to tell you that I absolutely never obsess over anything and that letting go is easy for me, but I would be a big, bloated liar. When I am holding on to an issue or problem, I feel it in my body. I tighten. I don’t even want to exhale. I want to keep the messy stuff inside. Because letting go is such a body-based experience, I can tell when I am releasing my problems when I can breathe again — and more specifically when I can exhale. When I am able to experience at least six solid, truthful exhalations, I know I have turned the corner.
Some days, when problems seem to compile, I rinse and repeat the whole cycle: feel the problem, live with the messy stuff, and then exhale. At least six times. It’s not a magic formula and sometimes it takes me an hour (well, okay, sometimes several hours) to get six truthful exhales out, but when I do, I know that I have let go, for the moment, and I can feel contentment again.
How do you know when you’ve allowed life’s daily problems to build up inside you? What does your body feel like? How do you know when you’ve let go of those festering feelings? What do you do when too many branches fall along your peaceful path?