Embracing the suck

I almost titled this post “staying present” but it seemed far too trite and over-used in present day discourse. So I opted to borrow a phrase used by Brené Brown, telling a story about her work with a military unit in her recent book, Braving the Wilderness, which I just finished via audiobook.

This relates to the topic of reconsidering my current work, and realizing that my soul’s “expiration date” for this work is coming to an end, but I do not yet know what my next step will be. Thus, even though there are parts of this work that I realize I no longer enjoy as I have become more aware of my strengths and interests, I still work there. My job is our family’s main source of income, and therefore I need to suck it up and keep rolling for a while, whether or not I envision some future that looks different than today (and I do).

Yesterday afternoon my mind was spinning with all I “have” to do and I was casting around, looking for mental distraction, and doing what I could to escape the present moment, which seemed to be irritating and overwhelming me. On the yoga mat this morning, I had more clarity. What I could not see at the time was that I was resisting my present reality, trying not to reside there, telling myself it was toxic to be there, and just wanting an escape button. I needed to instead embrace the present moment, acknowledge to myself there are some tasks I find challenging to complete, and that railing against them mentally would not help me complete them. Indeed, I had been stuck in a sort of mental “pity party” thinking of all the reasons my department is heading in the wrong direction, and why I need to leave.

All of those things may be true: I want to leave the current situation. I no longer see it as a long-term viable path for me. And yes, there are certain parts of my work that suck, mightily. So I know I will continue to work toward my plan to find new work that aligns better with my soul’s calling. In the meantime, I have a job to do, a role to play, and a team I lead that requires my effort and my presence. I may have to ask for help on some projects or tasks, always hard for me, but something I continue to practice practice. I may try to set better boundaries in some areas, where I realize that my director’s tendency to say “yes” to everything compromises our team’s ability to function effectively.

Another Brené Brown mantra comes to mind: “choose discomfort over resentment.” Those of us who are people-pleasers need to realize that it will uncomfortable to say “no” to certain things. Indeed, I feel some discomfort in my body when I imagine the scenario, a fluttery stomach, feelings fear and uncertainty arising. But in my deep core, I know it is the right thing to do. So instead of resisting this deep knowing, and the reality of where I am right now, I will embrace the suck. I will acknowledge it is uncomfortable for me to disappoint my boss, but know that it is more important to stand in integrity, and support my team. In the long run, I make better decisions when I create clear boundaries, and deliver on my commitments.

Byron Katie gives some great advice in her book on “Loving What Is” on not arguing with reality. It is a good reminder to me, and a better way to live in the world. Embrace whatever it is we are facing, bad or good, without getting caught up in our spinning thoughts about it, the stories we are telling about it, and stop resisting. Then we can take the next action needed in the present. We can stop adding suffering to the situation, which really comes from our thinking, not the situation itself.


6 thoughts on “Embracing the suck

  1. A quote that helped me through a similar time says, “The work you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.” It’s attributed to Gandhi, and is painted on an overpass I drive under many days. It always pulls me center.

    Also, I wanted to tell you I recently listened to an interview with Brene Brown on Krista Tippett’s podcast “On Being.” The episode title is, “The Courage to be Vulnerable.” Worth a listen if you haven’t yet. I added her book to my wishlist; thanks for the link. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great quote, thanks Jessie. I love Krista Tippett and am a big fan of her work. I think I heard that episode a year or so ago when I was listening to all things On Being. I have read almost all Brene Brown’s books (and/or listened on audio). I think she is a genius and really speaks to my clinical researcher side, but I love her messages of vulnerability and courage.

      Liked by 1 person

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