How To Stop Riding Life On The Default Setting

It might not be obvious to any of us on a day to day basis, but the world has radically shifted in the last 50 years.

We’re watching as understood norms and structures are collapsing right before our eyes – either through corruption or a mass awakening or both.

  1. Is college really the best way to get a higher education?
  2. Is the American dream of buying a home with two kids and a white picket fence really sustainable?
  3. Do the police actually protect us or are they a part of the problem we see today?
  4. Is Democracy stable against tyranny and uprising?
  5. Do we really need banks and intermediaries or can we democratize and digitize money?
  6. Why do we think staying in the same career for 30+ years is the right path for most of us?
  7. Is Capitalism destroying the planet?

Will we even be here in 100 to 200 years? If we are, it won’t look anything like what we’ve known as modern society in the last few decades.

What happens energetically in society as a whole trickles down into each individual person and depending on where you are in the structure of it all, you might be feeling this radical shift internally as well.

  1. Is everything I worked for what I actually want?
  2. Why did I believe that this was the best path for me? And is it still true?
  3. Do I feel like I’ve lived fully so far, and if not, do I need to make a change in order to make the next 30-40 years more fulfilling?
  4. Have I coasted on societal norms and expectations only to feel empty and lost?

You might read those questions and say, “Oh that’s just someone in a midlife crisis.” And that might be true.

But in this time of the world, I would argue that these questions are a necessary ask to every human being who doesn’t want to just ride through life on the default setting.

Especially now when our civilization is headed for collapse.

The scariest moment for all of us is when the answer to those questions requires a reinvention. And that is something I know a bit about. I’ve done it before, and in many ways… am doing it again.

Truth #1: The fundamental belief that “end” means failure… must die. 

In 2014, my first marriage ended. And with it, a lot of the traditions, routines, friends, and community that went along with that union.

In addition to the end of my marriage, I lost my church. My best friends. My home. My town. My entire community. If you could write a definition of burning it all to the ground, that was it.

It was a mess. And in that season, I learned another truth.

Truth #2: Mess isn’t bad.

Walk into a garden in October in the Northeast and you will see a mess. The flowers are dying. Weeds might have grown up. Bugs. Maybe even some disease on leaves after the hot and humid summer.

Walk into that garden in February and you will see death. Nothing is alive or moving. The ground is frozen.

Walk into that garden in May and everything will look right. Bright green foliage, new flowers, life. Even still… it’s planted in dirt.

When things come crashing down in your world, it will be messy. You’ll feel conflicting emotions. You’ll doubt yourself. It doesn’t mean it was the wrong thing for you.

What happened for me is much like what you see in the mystical Phoenix. With everything dead and burned, I was able to resurrect the parts of me that I wanted to carry forward, and the parts of me I needed to let die.

My life today looks nothing like back then, but I still hold many of the same beliefs I did then. They just are expressed differently.

My potential would not have been unlocked if not for that mess and failure and end.

It doesn’t feel good to watch the deck get shuffled. But that cliche saying about failure is true.

Truth #3: We learn more in failure than in success. Failure is our greatest teacher.

We need to redefine failure because it is the only true catalyst for change in the human heart. Yet, most of us go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it. And by doing so, we avoid learning deep truths about ourselves that can change the way we impact the people around us.

That reinvention in 2014 taught me so much about myself and the world around me.

And silly me, I thought that was the only one I would need.

Why do we believe that a human being (average lifespan 75 years old), wouldn’t need to go through several cycles of reinvention in order to reach their highest potential?

Show me something in nature that doesn’t cycle naturally through seasons. I’ll wait.

And in all of those life cycles, death is a part of it. What’s true in one area, is true in another. For us as humans, our physical life cycle might have one natural death, but emotionally/intellectually, it’s absurd to think we wouldn’t go through several of those cycles in our lifetime.

Truth #4: If you’re committed to reaching your potential, be prepared to leave behind old patterns that don’t work anymore.

In my decision to end my current marriage, I had to wrestle with the societal norm that says divorce is only for people who can’t stick it out in relationships.

No one was going to come and reassure me on that. Despite the fact that I would be more accepted societally if I had slept around with 10-15 guys and married none, vs. staying loyal and true in two longterm serious marital relationships that ended.

It sounds absurd right? Why would I have more scorn from the world than that other scenario where I would be unable to commit to anyone in a real meaningful way?

Truth #5: Question what you believe and why you believe it. You might discover cognitive dissonance at work.

It’s scary when you uncover beliefs that don’t make logical sense. And, as a faith based person, I don’t worship logic as the highest form of thinking. I’m perfectly comfortable believing things that require faith to hold.

However, doing that with the awareness that they are based on faith is where you have to square up with yourself.

Pretending your beliefs are logic based when they are clearly not creates a pattern where you’re not willing to question yourself and your beliefs regularly.

As I’ve been walking through this divorce process over the past months, I have a new awareness of how much the body does keep the score. My physical body is the key to what’s happening emotionally for me, and this is one of the first times I’ve really understood what’s happening.

I’ve learned to notice the sensations in my body – a queasy stomach, tightness in my chest, numbness in my hands, racing heart, shaky jaw… and then even more subtle sensations… a feeling of fullness in my throat, small vibrations in my stomach… it’s all communicating to me important truths about the emotions running through me.

I didn’t realize how much I try to push certain emotions down until I started paying attention. Most of my anxiety is fueled by the desire to avoid feeling pain and sadness. And this is where I got stuck back in 2014.

I learned so much but didn’t understand this. And I do now.

Truth #6: We’re designed to feel our emotions, and if we don’t, we get stuck. They will entrap us. The way out is through. Simply feeling an emotion in the body and letting it wash over us like a wave is how we process emotion.

All this talk of hard things does have a positive flip side.

The potential for love is deeper.

The ability to tap into true empathy means you will be able to reach more people.

The feeling of true happiness and contentment is more accessible.

The body keeps the score in both positive and negative ways. Living in stress, avoidance, fear, anxiety, frustration will take its toll on you physically as much as emotionally.

The brain controls everything, including the hormone response to stress. And those stress hormones in large quantities over a long period of time will manifest in your life.

How about we use this incredible power of the mind body connection towards the positive?

None of this is easy, but it’s 100% worth it. I’ve been through some of the deepest pain and sadness in both seasons of reinvention, and it’s tough – but in each of them, I have held onto my commitment to doing what is best for me, regardless of how it feels in the moment.

I know that the more responsibility I take for myself and my potential, the more impact I will be able to have on those around me.

I did a podcast episode the other day and I was asked the question, “What legacy do you want to leave on this Earth?” and it took me a minute, but it was clear as day.

I want people to look at my life and think, “If she did it, so can I.”

xx