Chapter 15 | When The Going Gets Tough

woman balancing on the back of a man

I have been thinking about the gap between being ‘at the top’ and being ‘at the bottom’. For most of us this fluctuates, we are never always ‘down’ and we are never always ‘up’. We consider ‘up’ as positive and ‘down’ as a place where we do not want to be.  So we believe that we are actively living our lives, feeling empowered and living a life where our demands and capacities are aligned (I have written a big document about this which I could share with you, if you are interested? Funny how often I have that feeling of not wanting to bombard people with info etc., perhaps because I absolutely hate being bombarded with it myself. However, we all need to regulate that for ourselves. You can only feel bombarded when you allow yourself to be bombarded).

An empowered life to me is where my words and actions (little promises I make to myself) align.  I do as I say.  I also build in room for the variables that are out of my control with a bit of room for spontaneity. People like those are usually dynamic, they seem to do a lot, however, it seems effortless and they enjoy themselves but they also achieve a lot through hard work. They have time for their training, their hobbies and their families. These people make time for their health and well-being. They rarely, if ever, neglect themselves. They do not become a statistic in the hands of others; they don’t get steered and they don’t get caught up or run out of time – in fact, they steer, or co-steer, they stay on top and at a pace where they can actually live and not simply just cope or survive – they have time. They have an immense self-regulatory mechanism.

People are not born with this; whenever I have come across a person like this (I am exceptionally fortunate as I meet a few) they all tell me how they used to be before, how and when they decided to change and how hard it was at the beginning – however, they all say now that the effort was worth it.

These people have multiple outlets, they are not propped up by one thing, they have a few pillars and if one pillar gets a knock – or at times completely knocked down – they have other pillars to rely on and certainly to put their focus on. These people do get sick and they do get injured, however they don’t seem to make a drama about it, it is not ‘the worst case ever’… they get on with it and over it. I have discovered that these people don’t identify too strongly with anything in particular, they don’t seem to attach (cling on) so eagerly and neither do they become consumed.  They seem to have a moderate response, they don’t go ‘off the chart’ in either direction. Yes, they do have passion and yes they are exciting and interesting, just perhaps not as exciting as the people who do ‘go off the chart in the upward direction’… (so we all need a few of those friends, for that spike when we want it… (😊)

Coming back to ‘the gap’… when you look at the projection of a person like this, and his or her life, they seem to get to the place that they aim for: when they say they want to run 10 km – they do, when they say they want to keep their weight at a certain level – they do, when they say they are not going to drink for 3 nights a week – they stick to it (irrespective). The list is endless.

Now when we find ourselves (and most of us probably have been there once or twice) where we don’t do as we say, where we always find ourselves ‘caught up at work’, or ‘without enough time’ or ‘enough energy’ or ‘the weather is too bad’ or we ‘cannot get out of bed’ –  it becomes trickier and trickier. Not only are you getting caught up in a negative feedback loop, not only are you regressing more and more into the negative (which means coming back is even harder unless you compromise on your goals) you are starting to lose respect for yourself. Your confidence diminishes and the respect and the patience of the people around you also start to suffer. You become that one person that you always said you never wanted to become…

When the gap between the top and the bottom gets too great between friends, between partners, between students and coaches – then the relationships change. Often the one at the top comes down, because rightly so, they are ‘in the positive’ they have reserve tanks full of fuel… however to what point do you want them to compromise for you? What happens ‘to their top’ when they constantly have ‘to come down to you’?

I look around myself; by whom am I surrounded and by whom do I want to be surrounded? What does my graph look like – do I even have one and where am I on it? Who are the people around me? Are there people a little bit above, a lot above, a little bit below, perhaps one or two people far below, and a lot of people around me? Do I feel included, inspired, challenged, compassionate, meaningful? Am I content?

This message is to myself, full with love and compassion. Let the laws of karma apply.

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