Time to Stop “Trying”

by Alan McAllister, CCHt PhD-phys

Several years ago I was working on rebuilding a house I had just moved into. This involved a good deal of excavation, which I did over time, by hand. Good exercise and a great way to work out anger and frustration that I had coming up at the time. Having been a practitioner of T’ai Chi for many years I approached this task with an attitude of relaxing into it. The Tao of pick and shovel.

Even digging ditches can be done with effort or without effort. Effort being a mental attitude,not a measure of physical energy. Moreover the more I focused on relaxing while I worked, the less tired I got, the less I ached, and the more I got done.

Perhaps you have had experiences that are similar to this in other areas. Trying to remember a phone number, or name, that has suddenly gone missing? how often does it show up shortly after you stop “trying”? The difference in any activity that you are doing because you “have to” rather than because you “choose to”. Even something that you enjoy and find playful when you choose it freely, can become a tiring burden when you “have to” do it.

Lately I’ve been noticing a deeper layer of “trying” energy in myself and in clients. It is more fundamentally mental, being woven through the ego. I suspect that most of us know this feeling, of trying to do or be something, something that we are supposed to do or be, or something that will make us safe, or appreciated; fill in the blanks. This process is perhaps successful in the short run, but in the long run it is exhausting.

The story seems to go back to the early stages of life. As a new human we are a soul incarnating, bringing with us joy and enthusiasm, creativity and curiosity, and a wonderful menu of talents and interests unique to ourselves. We show up in a world that doesn’t have room for all of who we are, or they way we are, or… In the best of families and situations there are still likely to be aspects that are not fully welcomed. For most of us it was a mixed bag.

In these years we were forming not only our physical bodies, but our emotional and mental bodies, through which to express our souls and explore our world. However, to the extent that we were not received, these bodies, in particular the mental “ego” level, became a layer that serves more to protect the soul than to express it. It is this level of our being that “trys” to figure out the game, to follow the rules, to be a good boy or girl. All in order to preserve at least a little space inside for the soul aspect to live.

So we create a “suit of clothes” that is geared to fitting in, to being “successful”, to keeping us safe. But it is not about who we are and what we have to offer. Even those who rebel, who hold to trying to express themselves rather than taking on a role are seldom completely free of the energy of “trying”, it is buried so deeply, formed so early. We are still often orienting to the external world, defiantly not playing a certain externally defined role, or expressing our pain, rather than learning to express core self.

Trying is specifically not fueled from our core. It is an outside-in process, rather than an inside-out process, fueled from the body level, the emotional and mental levels. It is therefore ultimately exhausting and in a sense futile. No matter how successful you are at “trying”, you still have not created space to be yourself, only to avoid censorship or “failure”, to prove that you are free to express your anger or to stay out of “their” game. All these results are still defined by other people’s terms.

So as you move on through life you eventually have an exhausted inner young person who has been “trying” for most of your life, and she/he is not only tiered of trying but is probably pretty pissed off about the whole thing. Perhaps you have been sitting on this, or not even aware of it, or perhaps you have been acting it out, but it never seems to go away.

This can be true even for those of us who have some sense of who we are as spirits and souls. Part of us is tuned in to ourselves, but part of us is still valiantly “trying” to keep us safe.

Even spiritual pursuits, or working with a therapist or mentor or teacher can be a “trying” process. Not to imply that these are wrong, but to observe that they may not get us to what we are all really looking for: space to bring our soul essence into this world. At least if they are done from a place of ego and effort.

It is time to talk with our “trying” part. In great gratitude to give him or her permission to take a long vacation, and to return with a new mission, to learn to create from the inside out, to express our souls rather than simply protect them. To do this effortlessly and without trying, as small children express themselves. But coupled with your adult wisdom and experience.

It is time to look deeper into our being and find the even younger self that is our bright essence waiting to come out to create and play. However vulnerable or fragile this part may have felt or seemed when we were infants or children, this is actually where our power lies. It may seem “quite”, or “sensitive”, or other things our culture defines as “weak”, but it is just powerful in a different way, full of possibility and creativity.

From the inside out we do not exhaust ourselves, we do not have to figure things out, we do not have to “try”. We relax into ourselves and know who we are and, in time, we can see how that will manifest. We can take care of our tired parts, our physical, emotional, and mental bodies, making space for our spirit to infuse them with life force. We are naturally in alignment with source, with spirit.

This is not something we have to learn, or find, or solve. It is within us always, and we get there by letting go of fear and effort, by setting our intention for going home and relaxing into it. Let your breath take you there, let your heart take you there. We are dong this together. With support from Spirit. Now.

What a glorious time to be alive.

(© 10/2008)

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