Sometimes things just fall apart. That is in fact the title of a book by the prolific Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”. She says that when things fall apart, we often think something has gone terribly wrong, when in fact it is the natural rhythm of life. Falling apart is a time to be still and to open our hearts and minds beyond our normal limits; to look at our patterns, gain wisdom and choose differently.
We try so hard to stay the course and to keep things going, but we end up exhausted, depleted, and things fall apart anyhow. That’s when we know it is time to stop, re-evaluate, and change how we are doing things.
I’ve just recovered from a respiratory infection that lasted for a whole month. I felt like I was never going to get well and it frightened me. I rested, ingested lots of vitamin C, antibiotics, Airborne—you name it, I took it. And yet, the infection remained.
During this downtime, I reflected on my life and realized that I had gradually added more and more things to my schedule, including taking time off for a couple of trips and retreats, and now was woefully behind in my work. On top of all of that, I now had this lingering infection.
I decided it was time to do things differently. I realized how much I had said yes to various opportunities and how many obligations I now had to follow through on—too many to have time for all the other important things in my life like regular meditation practice, songwriting, quiet time with an inspiring book, rest and reflection.
It was time to let go and clear out what was no longer serving me. I took a hard look at each commitment and asked myself whether these things energize me or deplete me. Are these things on purpose for me? Do they enhance my coaching and speaking business or are they distracting me from focusing on doing the things that matter which is bringing results to my business and pleasure to my life? In business it is referred to ROI—return on investment.
I have been well trained from my childhood to give, give, give and before I know it, I found myself in that familiar position of forgetting to receive, feeling depleted and exhausted. We teach what we most need to learn, and, over and over again, I need to learn to take good care of myself by resting and receiving more.
How about you? How is the balance between giving and receiving working for you? What is your ROI in your work, community, parenting, partnering, and friendships? Is letting go and clearing out what no longer serves you called for in your life?
It’s worth taking a good hard look. Your health and well-being will thank you.