“Life is too important to be taken seriously” – Oscar Wilde.
Earlier this year I was given an article to read called “Embracing Your Demons: an Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” by Australian psycotherapist Russell Harris. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness based form of therapy and looks at teaching Acceptance of ones feelings (wanted and unwanted), situation etc and Commitment and action towards living a valued life. I’m not going to try to explain the article or the practice here, I’m not a therapist, if you’re interested in it Google it and check it out. It was only about 7 or 9 pages long.
I have never been afraid of facing my demons in fact strangely I prefer to. I am more uncomfortable with what my imagination does to icky situations left unattended in my head than I am of confronting them and ‘getting it over with’. It’s never as bad in reality as my head makes it out to be so I’d rather just deal with it and get on with it. That and I hate drama and those situations that go on and on and on with no one making the first move or everyone misunderstanding everyone and everything in a situation because nobody will actually talk about it and sort it out.
But Embracing your demons! I realised I wasn’t so good at and if you read the above paragraph closely I’ve pretty much spelt that out. By looking at myself and my behaviours and reactions I learnt that my ‘confront it, sort it out, get it over with, and move on’ approach is in itself a form of avoidance. Whilst, no it could not be said that I avoided the situation, what I have been avoiding is “Feeling”. By confronting and moving on I don’t have to sit with my feelings and emotions and process them. I have to tell you it was a bit of a revelation and a rather uncomfortable one to begin with. Learning how to ‘sit with my emotions’ and feel them and accept them and do nothing about them has been a tough lesson this year. Rewarding yes, harrowing at times yes, uncomfortable good god yes! but ultimately rewarding. I think I have found yet another level of understanding of the saying “This too shall pass”.
All of this also brought back to the foreground for me the reminder that we are all in this alone together. Life is a solo journey, whether you share it with a partner, family, friends whoever, ultimately whether we like it or not we are all alone. No one else can experience what you experience, no one else can see the world and your experiences the way that you do, no one else can live your life or feel your feelings but you. To me it is our avoidance, acceptance or denial of this unavoidable truth that brings us together. Be it in a desperate bid to make it not so or in a bid to compare experiences or under any other circumstances.
Earlier this year I was discussing the ‘We’re all ultimately alone in this life’ conundrum with a dear friend. She told me how when she realised and accepted this piece of knowledge about life, she found it very liberating and freeing and she then asked me how it made me feel. Being the honest to a fault person that I am I answered her “I find it terrifying at present.” I said. I have since that conversation tried to find the liberation and freedom in it that she found. I can say that I know where she is coming from and that I think at times in the past I have found it that way, I am not always terrified by it is I guess what I’m saying. At times I try to rebel against it and deny it but the problem with undeniable truths is just that – their undeniability.
So where am I going with this? It’s about time you asked! Truthfully?! I have no idea but I’m working on it, I’ve made a lot of ground but I still have so far to go. I do agree with the very wise Mr Wilde though and his quote that I opened with. Life IS too important to be taken seriously.