In my eternal struggles with perfection, all my life I thought I could be happy, if I were perfect, if I had the highest grades, the best job, good manners, great reputation, lots of friends, zero-failures, and the list goes on.
But when things fall apart, I always keep wondering: “How do I feel at the end of the day, every day, without any of the above? Just me: my body, my mind, my heart and my soul. Am I doing something meaningful every day? Am I being kind to myself and others? Am I happy? What is this roller-coaster of life trying to tell me?”
At one point or another, everyone comes to this realization — that they’re missing something important — that something just feels off and somehow they shouldn’t be in the situation they’re in.
At that moment, most of us are unwilling to face our failures and problems. Some tend to ignore them in an attempt to keep up with the grind, while others start asking themselves the well-known philosophical question: “Why is this happening to me?”
Throughout my struggles with perfection, I’ve finally come to realize that life is not about being perfect. Life is about growth. And you achieve this growth by confronting your problems and failures, rather than pushing them down and ignoring them.
Now I know that everything happening in my life is meant to help me grow into colors. The good stuff is meant to encourage me and the not-so-good stuff is meant to shift my focus and teach me valuable lessons that will move me forward.
In fact, there’s grace in whatever is causing us anxiety or suffering. Our problems are a benevolent messenger, not a menacing troll, carrying valuable guidance that will help us — a lesson, a hint, a compassionate nudge from the Universe. They show up in our lives to reveal important guidance for us.
No matter what your problems — your well-meaning messengers — are whispering (or shouting) to you, just listen to them as they are telling you that:
Maybe it’s time to take responsibility for an area of your life you’ve neglected — so that you can be much happier in the long run.
Maybe it’s time to let go of something you already know has outworn its purpose.
Maybe it’s time to ask for help, or to take a stand.
Maybe it’s time to loosen up a little.
Maybe it’s time to leave — even if you don’t yet know where you’ll go.
Or, maybe it’s time to open your eyes and realize just how blessed you are.
Remember that life doesn’t want to punish us or make us feel bad about who we are. Life, if we listen closely, is always pointing us in the right direction — like a GPS system notifying us that we need to redirect ourselves.
So I want you to think of a problem you’re facing right now… Is there something that’s gnawing at you or making you feel like a failure?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to start facing it, and ask it: “What are you here to teach me?”
Soon, you’ll find yourself moving with the flow of life instead of against it. And this flow is what will deliver you beyond your suffering to your destiny.
I will leave with a quote from the must-read book When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times by the Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chödrön:
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
Sending you love wherever you are in the world,
Image: Dina Al-Mahdy