I once heard someone say that people think that having a lot more money will solve all of their problems, but really all it will do is show you more of who you already are. If you are already an arrogant person, for instance, having more money will amplify that arrogance. If you’re already a generous person, having more money will amplify that generosity.
Since the birth of our daughter, I keep thinking that really, everything in life is this way.
Everything in life, all the stuff “out there,” just shows us more of who we already are.
For instance, when I’m lacking sleep, what shows up for me is different than what shows up for my husband. We have different responses to the stress that lack of sleep brings; it’s just stirring up more of what’s already in the pot of our psyches and more of who we already are.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that other people’s behavior, or the amount of money or time that we have (or sleep!) is really what’s behind our choices.
It’s easy to say, “If they hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t behave this way” or “If my parents hadn’t raised me the way they had, I wouldn’t choose XYZ, today” or “If I had more money (or time, or sleep), then I’d be more (patient, generous, compassionate, etc.”
But really, the proof of who we already are is showing up in our day-to-day choices, right here and right now. I’m thinking now of a dinner experience I had where someone who didn’t have a lot of money approached me beforehand with cash and insisted, absolutely insisted, on covering my meal; when we were actually at the restaurant, other people who had quite a lot of money were irritated when the waitress hesitated to split the bill among our large party.
The person with less money made choices that indicated that she didn’t feel she had less money; her choices, despite her cash flow, were a reflection of who she already was. Likewise, with the other dinner guests.
We think that how we feel about our lives is really about the circumstances of our lives, when the truth is that how we feel about our lives is really about the Stories we tell about what’s happening, and who we are in response to that.
I adore my daughter. It is hard for me to be away from her. And yet at the same time, especially when it takes hours of rocking and swaying and movement just for her to go down for a nap, I have thoughts like, “Life would be easier if she would just go to sleep, already.”
The truth, of course, is that life already is easy. I have a healthy baby girl and I get the honor and privilege of raising a human being. It is something that I wanted and longed for and never regret. The moments when I think that something needs to change has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with me.
In other words, life is just showing me more of who I already am in my boredom or my lack of presence or my habitual response when I’m feeling tired. All of it comes up and arises, and if it weren’t coming up because I have a new baby, it would come up because of a frustration in my business or with another person or in response to a sports injury or the next time I hit a money snag.
There are moments in taking care of an infant where I feel really lost and broken; I can’t figure out what she needs and I notice that I’m attached to having an answer for her and being the Super Mommy who logically manages to assess the situation and determine how to best provide for her.
In those moments, life is showing me my own brokenness: my own wounds and longing for someone else to provide answers for me and caretake for me, my own assumptions that this is what love looks like, my projections that her crying means something dire.
If you want to know what life is trying to show you, here are a few questions to ask yourself, particularly next time you feel challenged:
- What must I believe about myself, others, or the world, in order to think that things should be different, right now?
- Can I really know that if things were different right now, anything would be better? Can I honestly, truly, 100% know that for absolute certain? (Hint: No, you can’t. Play with that one.)
- If this weren’t a trigger for me right now, what else would be?
- How is this trigger, in this moment, similar to other triggers? In other words, can I find the place where I project this same story or belief system onto different content?
There is grace and courage in examining your habitual responses to life and noticing that what they all have in common is one thing: you. Life is not happening to you; it is just showing you more of who you already are.