I’ve learned firsthand that the line that separates “Everything in life is flowing smoothly” from “Everything feels like a fight” is alarmingly thin.
All it takes is a few misplaced actions or some misguiding energy, and life can feel suddenly skewed into survival mode.
Think to a living situation that tests you day and night. Or a working environment that’s challenging your peace of mind, week in and week out. Everything in your life is disrupted when your environments don’t support you. You have to fight through them just to feel like you can survive.
The same goes for people, too.
It doesn’t take an army of haters to turn your daily life into a bad remake of Groundhog’s Day. All it takes is one or two of those “wrong” people in your life — an ex you’re still trying to prove something to, or an estranged sibling you’re still trying to diagnose from afar — and all your mental energy gets swallowed whole. Hours pass without one thought being invested in good things, like positive intentions or meaningful ideas.
(Or just being able to “not think” for a while.)
And at the end of days like those, what amount of energy is left over to do the stuff you really want to do? Projects? Goals? Living well? Changing lives?
If you’re like me, the only amount of energy that’s left is for comforting, easy habits that swaddle us (like a House of Cards Netflix marathon).
No, it’s not a big deal to chill out on your evenings, or just plain ol’ enjoy downtime with something other than work, fight and hustle.
But, altogether — when the hours and hours stack up — you might start to realize that your really precious energy is being consumed by all the wrong people and activities, for all the wrong reasons.
When so much of your time is spent fighting against outside circumstances, work conditions, home-life and unhealthy relationships, it’s just about impossible to have any energy left to do the stuff you want to do.
Like meditating. Journaling. Outlining your book. Doing yoga. Meaningful practices that not only feel good, but empower and embolden your capital-S Self though self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-reliance, and ultimately self-love.
When environments and people do not honor you, uplift you and nurture you, your You-ness suffers.
Because Self practices require willpower, dedication, and an investment of energy.
And when all your strength, thoughts, words and actions are being used up elsewhere, you have nothing left to do the You work.
For most of us, this is just how we float through our weeks and months.
We muscle through the tough times and strenuous situations. We fight against the world to afford ourselves chances to ease up in moments of downtime on the couch. We wake up. We repeat.
And we wonder why those deep passions and dreams never come to fruition.
It’s because we aren’t channeling ourselves more fully into the self-work and soul-work that makes them real.
I’m coming off a cycle of survival-fighting, myself. My February was a very full, positive and challenging month, but also weird and unsettling. From moving into a new apartment to shifting gears in one business offer to dealing with a strange (and ultimately fine) incident of possible identity theft, most of my attention and energy were being swallowed by a fight to “just get by.”
I had chances to do yoga, to write, to meditate, but I just didn’t feel like it. I was strained. I was exhausted. Whatever leftover energy I had for “me” was spent on the couch with Netflix.
Which would be fine, if Netflix helped me be my best version of me — the grounded, centered, strong and Highest Self version who I’m always striving to become.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Netflix.
But, when a comforting habit comes at the cost of my Self practices, so flees my peace of mind.
A constant feeling of tension came. Anxious muscles knotted in my upper back and neck. I felt hurried right upon waking up, and aggravated by unimportant challenges. I got through it. But I did not enjoy it. Worse, it set me back on being the soul who I want to be.
The truth is, all the work, hustle, fight and “doing” I do in my life is all supposed to lead back to the center — to me. Not in some selfish way. But in a Self way. To me becoming as me as I possibly can. To shed layers of ego, worry, fear, distance and separation. To become more connected, considerate and heart-open.
It’s kind of crazy to think that a few skewed situations with living environments or relationships can skew your Soul Work so quickly.
But it’s because the notion I offered at the top of this piece is true: the line the separates “flowing” from “fighting to survive” is so thin.
So here’s an offer that I have for you.
To find — and stay — on the side of the line where you can do your Self Work, your Soul Work, and explore all the healthy, reaffirming practices that help you become your best version of yourself, give up all the fighting.
Stop fighting against your environments. If they aren’t working for you, change them.
Stop fighting the people who don’t support, see and honor you. If they aren’t supporting you, ignore them, leave them, and trust the right people will soon find you.
Give up fighting the whole world around you and free yourself to “fight” for You. To use what willpower, dedication and energy you have to work on your Youness and invest yourself in your highest version of Self.
Give up the fight against everything that isn’t serving you, and witness how life becomes easier on you.
This isn’t really about “giving up.”
It’s about what you’re giving up. You could keep wasting thoughts, words and actions on difficult people. Or, you could cross the thin line and spend more time in communion with people who get you. You could keep yourself anxious and tense about every working scenario that pops up, or you could trust yourself to just figure it out (as you always have) when the next client, workload or obstacle comes. You could get enraged about a neighbor parking in your spot for the umpteenth time, or you could just choose to let it go.
You know what changes when you stop fighting the world around you?
You hang onto more “fight” for You.
And the stuff you really want to do. This is about protecting your precious energy. Preserving your effort for your art, your passions, your partner, your movement, your dreams.
Become a conservationist for your giving-a-shitness.
Stick a sign at your feet that reads, “PROTECTED GROUNDS. WILL PROSECUTE TRESPASSERS.”
Squandering energy with the wrong people and in the wrong places, and you end up with nothing left when you’re trying to invest yourself into your You work: personal practices, skill-building, exploring, feeling really nourished and good (which is different from feeling Netflix-marathon-dazed).
It’s time to put more of yourself into that precious Soul Work.
Give yourself the chance to recognize your desires, build your inner wisdom and stumble upon moments of clarity that you’re so close to having.
You have permission to put less fight into all those wrong places.
Investing yourself in all the wrong places is the only thing that it takes for the gift of life to feel like a nightmare.
I say, it’s high time to replace the fight with flow.
Fall in with the currents. Surrender, instead. Deep down, life is moving for you. With you. The Universe is trying to help you succeed. Take the cues around you, and intimately challenge how and where you’re putting up your fights.
I’m not saying give up on yourself. Or the ones you love. Or the things you care about.
I’m saying it’s time to stop fighting to prove anything to anyone — even yourself.
Honor yourself instead. Love yourself instead.
Choose you. Choose ease. Choose the flow.