I am an expert at making things happen. All my life I have been really good at deciding what I want, figuring out the steps to get there, and then doing it. Over the past several years I have become aware that there are things in life – frequently the most important things – that cannot be forced, but have to be allowed, to happen.
I was reminded of this yesterday when working with a client who is very similar to me in being what could be called an overachiever. We have been working on (notice the use of the word “working”) helping her to get more in touch with who she is authentically with limited success, and she is feeling very frustrated with herself.
There are different tools and techniques that can open the door to knowing and being more of who you are, but all these tools can do is open the door, they can’t magically make you know who you are. That part requires allowing.
It occurred to me in this session that she was trying too hard. That everything we’re taught in our culture about how to succeed does not work in this situation. It’s hard for us to grasp this idea, let alone implement it, when it has worked so well for us in the past. I am a perfect example of this, so I could easily relate to the difficulty my client was having.
We fear that if we quit trying so hard, quit striving so hard, that we are giving up. In our culture giving up is not a good thing, it’s a character flaw. We fear that if we quit trying so hard that we will lose all motivation and become a bump on a log, accomplishing nothing.
And, we fear that we will not get the outcome we want, that the only way to get what we want is to make it happen. Being able to relax and allow requires trust. Trust that we are supported by the Universe, trust that we don’t have to do it all ourselves, trust that whatever the outcome is, it is in our best interest.
Many times this urge to strive and try leads to anxiety. “Am I doing all the things I need to do to make the thing I want happen? What about all the things that are beyond my control? I must find a way to control them.”
And when we don’t get the outcome we want, or we don’t get it in the timeframe we want, we become frustrated and beat ourselves up. “I should have done this instead of that. I don’t know how to make this happen. I didn’t do enough, I didn’t try hard enough.” We are always blaming ourselves.
I don’t remember exactly when I became aware of the difference between forcing and allowing. I do know that I get reminded of it frequently, and I’m given the chance to do it differently on a regular basis.
Just this weekend I was talking with a friend about the law of attraction and manifesting. I have been very successful at manifesting money in my life without really trying. I would write an intention and then forget it about it, and magically money would appear from sources I never even imagined.
Then I read a book that had a four step process for manifesting and put I put that into practice. And nothing happened. After a few weeks and some discussion with friends, I realized that I was trying too hard. When I did what was natural for me – writing my intention and sharing it with my intention circle then forgetting about it – I saw results. When I focused on my intention every day and had a ritual around it, I didn’t get results. For me, the way described in the book led to trying too hard and it didn’t work for me. I went back to my old ways and began seeing results again.
Similarly, I have discovered through many trials and errors that I cannot force myself to feel a certain way. Being too focused on trying to create a feeling that I want – happiness comes to mind – creates the exact opposite. The only way I can feel happy is to relax and allow.
Just like helping my client get in touch with who she is authentically, there are things I can do that increase the likelihood that I will feel happy, but they don’t make me feel happy. They open the door that allows happiness to step through.
As I mentioned, I get a chance to stop forcing and begin allowing on a regular basis. A lifelong belief and the associated habits can take time to change. So I’m gentle with myself.
When I start feeling anxious or frustrated I know that I’m trying too hard and it’s time to relax a bit. I look at where I still believe that I have to make things happen or where I don’t trust that whatever the outcome may be it will be the right one.
I do the things that will open the door and welcome the outcome that I want, and then I go about my business. Whatever the outcome, I know that ultimately it will be the right one for me when I trust and allow.