Lately, I swear, everyone I speak with feels like they're constantly vacillating between 'If you want it, go get it' and 'If it's meant to be, it will be.' I think we all must have those moments, right? Please say yes. You know, the one where you tell yourself if you really want something you better bust your ass. Or the moment when you don't know if you should hang on anymore, and that if it's meant to be it will. So what's the tipping point? When exactly is the right time to go from leaning in and doing everything you can to get something, to leaning back and trusting that what is supposed to be will happen?
Halfway through 2017 I found myself in an unexpectedly strange place where the things I thought I wanted, and spent a decade building, no longer fulfilled me. At the exact same time I had this awakening all sorts of other things in my life collapsed. It was as if once I acknowledged I was ready for a new path, the universe removed all the things which were enabling my old one. Unfortunately, when this sort of thing happens, we rarely get to cherry pick what stays and goes. Many of those things that fell away were also supporting other aspects of my life that I wasn't so eager to relinquish and say goodbye to. Hi, bills to pay! It's important to note I'm not one for letting go, guys. I am unwaveringly loyal and I just hate to give up on people (that's the Leo in me), ideas (that's the obsessive in me) or outdated dreams (that's the eternal child in me). Even when I know it may be blocking my future I want to figure out a way to keep the thing in my life that's blocking my path while still getting on my path. Makes total sense, right? *eye roll*
A few months ago I had a conversation with an actor friend we shall call Preston about this topic. (C'mon--even when I get deep you can trust me to slip in a little tea for you guys. Who knows, he may make some future appearances so best to name him now.) When I was at a complete loss one day and just felt like I was running in circles he sent me these words: "When I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety; if I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, and without pain. From this I understand that what I want also wants me, is looking for me and attracting me. There is a great secret here for anyone who can grasp it."
Now, I'd love to tell you this guy is a total poet as well as your 90's heartthrob; however, those gorgeous words are Rumi's. Regardless, here's a guy who has navigated his way through very difficult career and life transitions, with some serious flubs along the way, but is killing it right now. I heard every single 'everything happens for a reason' quote you could think of during 2017; yet I just about fell off my bed when he sent that one. Everything about those words resonated with me. Chasing leading to stress and anxiety. Check! Pain. Check! That was all me. But the bit about what I want, wanting me? It was everything I had felt, and yet had been completely at a loss on how to articulate. We all want to know that what we want wants us back--be it the guy, the job, or the friend. Nothing seemed to 'fit' for awhile. It felt like when I was chasing what I wanted, even the most simple steps to get there were a constant tread against the tide. Yet when I realized I no longer wanted it, and had what should have been a giant disaster to undo, everything vanished quicker than your dress in the heat of passion. The undoing should have been the part that was incredibly difficult, and instead what I wanted inexplicably just happened.
So from this I began to practice the art of leaning back which has been a game changer in my life! I'm totally aware this is not the advice Sheryl Sandberg recommended when she wrote 'Lean In'. And I know, her job, education, and money arguably make her someone whose wisdom you're better off heeding, but bare with me for another minute--there is a time and place for BOTH. You can only lean in once you've learned how to lean back. Leaning back is about creating space. Do you own too much, take responsibility for too much, and find you’re forever in anxiety trying to control the outcome of something and make it happen? CUZ I DO! When you're leaning in during those times it comes from a place of fear. It’s hard setting down the heavy load you’ve gotten accustom to carrying. In fact, initially, it can feel worse because you’ve gotten so comfortable spinning your wheels that the silence and inactivity can be deafening and more anxiety inducing. You've gotten so used to the go, go, go of doing that you've never had to sit in any of it. But it’s also liberating to just be. To trust that you don’t have to own and constantly be doing and pursuing in an attempt to control an outcome. In the space you create when you lean back is where the magic happens, it’s where value resides, it’s where you aren’t distracted by all the activity you’re doing and noise you’re creating and can truly feel and respond. Leaning back requires you to come from a great place of security knowing you already ‘feel enough’ and don’t have to own winning someone or something over. This is not about games or ‘playing hard to get’ or any other manipulative tactics. It is what naturally occurs when you know and accept you are worthy of others meeting your effort—be it in friendship, family, or love. Only once you've learned how to lean back can you truly, authetically, lean in.
Love you, mean it. xx JB