This is the mantra that has brought me some incredible peace.
I’ve always been a fighter.
For someone who preaches peace as much as I do, and for someone who is as anti-war as I am, this may (or may not) come as a surprise to you.
I hate war and everything about it, and I always will. And I say that with no disrespect at all meant to anyone who has fought in one. I’ve never been in one and hopefully never will be. I hate anything violent on TV or in the movies. I hate even watching most verbal conflict and drama. I have to turn it off quickly, because it depresses me, angers me, and generally drains my energy.
Yet, I’m a fighter.
I’ve never been a physical fighter and never plan to be. But an emotional fighter? Constantly.
Let me be clear. I never fight my own emotions. I allow all of them to be expressed as best as I’m able. But I do fight life—often—with my emotions.
It took a long, long time for me to realize and really internalize how much I’ve been a fighter. And when I did, I came to the conclusion that it’s okay to stop emotionally fighting with life and just let things be. To me, this doesn’t mean suppressing my feelings. It means allowing for them, and then reminding myself that I don’t need to keep fighting life at almost every turn. ;)
I’ve touched on similar ideas in my writing before. In my 2015 year-end reflection, I wrote about the idea of surrender—specifically about surrendering outcomes related to my work, which I have truthfully no control over. I can put my work out there, do what I can to try to get it seen, and set the best intentions for it to grow, but what happens after I do those things is ultimately out of my hands. So I’ve been working with this idea of surrender for quite some time now.
Yet, I also felt invited to explore another layer of this idea of surrender. A much more emotional layer.
Sometimes I don’t know how NOT to be a fighter. And that’s the truth.
Ever since I was a little girl, even though I was “quiet,” I was still a fighter.
At the very same time, I was a people-pleaser. So it’s no wonder I’ve had to become comfortable with the idea of maintaining paradoxical traits in my life! But I was still a fighter.
When I was in preschool, I fought against my teachers when they wanted me to sit on a balloon and pop it for some kind of activity they were doing. I refused to do it. I hated the loud noise that the balloon made when it popped. And I hated the destruction of something so beautiful which I loved to play with.
I got put in a time-out for refusing to participate in that activity. It was the first time I got “in trouble” for anything by people other than my parents. Again, I was also a people-pleaser. I wanted to do whatever I could to make the adults happy with me. Yet, I didn’t want to do what I didn’t want to do. To this day, I still remember sitting alone in a different room on a chair in time-out, crying and feeling humiliated, confused, and ashamed. It’s one of my earliest memories.
As I grew up, I saw my parents fighting more and more, mainly verbally. There was only one time I remember being frightened that Pop was going to hurt Mom. After that incident, Mom filed for separation. And then I started fighting with her.
Not physically, again. But stubbornly. And that fighting continued through much of the rest of our lives together.
I fought with Mom over not wanting to do chores. I fought with her over the ways I did the chores. I fought with her about what TV shows I wanted to watch, what foods I wanted to eat, what music I wanted to listen to, and for a few years, when I could be allowed to see my father. And this started long before my teenage years. I’d say it started around age 8, after my parents’ divorce.
In high school and college, I fought with Mom over many other things, particularly over the issues of money and religion. I fought to room with a friend, and then later to live with my boyfriend (now husband), without Mom’s interference and guilt, after her saying that she would pay me to live separately from them. I fought to take a required college class called Religions of the World, because Mom didn’t feel it was necessary. I fought to get my own job to provide for myself so that money couldn’t be used as a guilting tactic over me any longer. And I fought to get Mom to attend our wedding, since the fact that I had changed religious denominations was, according to her, “causing a scandal in the family.”
Even in recent years, I’ve still been fighting. I fought to maintain my health and eventually and gratefully find complete healing from a chronic illness a few years ago. I fought back (mainly with written words) when I felt that the work environments at some of my past jobs were becoming unhealthy for me and possibly for others around me. And I’ve fought with myself so much as I've been blogging, mainly with regard to keeping this blog consistent and keeping my passion for the larger vision for my work alive when the seed has truly only recently been planted.
As you can see, I’m used to fighting.
Yet, when all is said and done, I hate fighting.
(Again, another paradox.)
I love harmony. I love peace. I love the absence of conflict. In the past, I would often do whatever I could to avoid making other people upset with me, many times sacrificing my own mental, emotional, and even physical health in the process.
But I also have a very strong will. And life has taught me to stand up for what I believe in. So if I’m passionate about something, I will stand up for it. I will share it with others. And I will debate about my passions and try to be as persuasive as I can so that maybe others can see where I’m coming from.
It’s not anymore that I feel people have to take “my side” or agree with me. I used to have that attitude, but thankfully I’ve grown from it. :) Now, it’s simply because, like most humans, I want to be heard. I’m not afraid to speak up for what I believe in, and I don’t mind if others disagree.
I used to be much more afraid to speak up. I often used to feel the constant tension of blending in with the crowd, yet wanting to be myself, when I was often so different from the crowd.
But there was a period of my life where I realized that both of my parents were gone. And during that time period, I realized that I was ready to be a leader and not just a follower.
Since then, I’m generally no longer afraid to speak up. During those times when I am, I remind myself of the potential lessons that could be offered with what I’m about to say. If I can sense that there is the possibility for lessons to be offered and received, I will speak up anyway. I will fight for what I believe in.
For a time while doing this blog, I fought against my life with regard to two main issues—making a livelihood from my work, and finding deeper connections with others. And as I’ve said, I have embraced the idea of surrender in certain ways. But not quite in the very visceral way I’m beginning to experience it now.
These two very familiar issues—financial providing, and connection—came to intertwine in some very interesting ways in my life. They brought me to a point where I was beginning to feel desperate that neither of them would happen in many of the ways I’d hoped or wanted.
And it was out of that sense of desperation that I realized just how much energy it was taking for me to keep fighting against my life.
The ways I want to provide for myself and others? They haven’t happened quite yet. But I’m still being very much provided for. And I still hold and trust in my larger vision for my life. Even though I’m stopping fighting, there’s no way I’m giving that vision up. ;)
The ways I want to connect with others on deeper levels? They don’t happen nearly as frequently as I’d ultimately wish for. But I still feel connected to all beings, and I still know that there are others out there in the world like me. And again, I still hold and trust in the larger vision for my life.
I just grew tired of all the energy I’d been using to fight against my life. So I decided to give up the fight, in a very deep emotional, visceral way. “Stop fighting,” says the voice of my intuition. And I listened, loud and clear. :)
Just because I preach peace doesn’t mean I’ve perfected it. ;) But I’m working on it. And as a student of life, I wanted to share my journey and story with you.
As I started to practice giving up the fight, I really noticed how quickly my thoughts returned to fighting. And each time, I let myself have those thoughts and feel the fighting urge arise. Then, as the urge passed, I gently reminded myself: “Stop fighting.”
And let me tell you, this little mantra brought me more peace overall than I’d felt in along time. :)
Let me also tell you that this may or may not be a mantra that can work for you. Why? Because I don’t believe I have all the answers for everyone. Heck, I barely have some of the answers for myself! So I certainly don’t believe that I can be (or want to be) the kind of person who says, “This is THE answer. It worked for me, and so it will work for you!” Maybe. But maybe not. ;)
Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you’re being called to embrace the energy of the "warrior" in healthy ways. Maybe you're being called to stand up for what you believe in. Maybe you’re being called to set greater boundaries with others, or try something new out of your comfort zone, or take a big risk. And if that’s the case, I wholeheartedly encourage you: Do it! It may be one of the most beneficial things you ever do in your life!
But for me, one of my mantras has become “stop fighting.” I decided to hand over the white towel.
At first, I felt defeated when I imagined myself handing over this towel to the universe. “Here. You take it. Fine. You win.” But in time, I started to feel so much more at peace. I don’t have to fight everything in life. It’s okay. I will be okay, no matter what. Really—I’ve gotten through all I have in my life, yet I still have a hard time trusting that! I’ll be okay! I really will!
And even though I decided to "stop fighting," I didn't give up on my dreams or my larger vision for my life. I just decided to approach it all with a different kind of energy. :) I’m still committed to taking inspired action when it feels appropriate, and releasing the gas pedal when that feels better to me. But I’m committed to doing it in a different way.
“Stop fighting.” It’s okay. We don’t have to fight our way through life. Sometimes we are called to find the fire within ourselves. But other times, we’re called to just let that fire burn gently, like a small candle, calmly lighting the way for our lives, and allowing our light to shine so that we may possibly help others on their journeys as well.
The peace that I feel from this little mantra is making it all worthwhile. :)
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I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a personal note through my Contact page, or leave a comment below. Have you ever felt the call to stop fighting your way through life? Or have you ever felt the call to take a strong stance and stand up for yourself and what you believe in? I’d love to hear your story!
Curious about what else you may not realize you’re fighting or not fighting? ;) Check out my first book here. You never know what you may discover! :)
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,