In one of his wonderful books, the best-selling author and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote that the reason most people never achieve their greatest dreams is that to get there, you have to go through a period of chaos. Most people will turn back when they reach that point because chaos doesn’t just mean pain, it means change. It means a disruption in the order of our lives. It means confronting one of humankind’s oldest and greatest fears: the unknown.
In the world of psychology, the name for how people deal with this chaos is “risk outcome.” For the majority of clients I’ve worked with, risk outcome has been their #1 issue, and I think it was the #2 issue for all the rest. So what does that mean? Well, essentially it goes back to our discussions of expectations. When we imagine something pleasurable—and this includes the absence of pain—our unconscious mind takes ownership of it, so that we enter a state of crisis if we don’t get it. Before you know it, that issue is consuming you day in and day out. I’ve become convinced this happens because of the way we view the issue, which is all about minimizing risk—in other words, avoiding chaos.
So, time for a new approach. By now you probably know the tune: rather than seeking those external goals, focus on love in the present moment. But let’s take a moment to think about why these things so often end up in conflict. The key here is that love inherently requires risk. You can’t have love without a degree of trust and of vulnerability, both of which are a form of risk. Simply put, love is chaos.
I also don’t want to mislead you into thinking that if you take that leap of faith, everything will be nice and breezy all the time. M. Scott Peck had it right when he called chaos painful. In fact, one of the most famous ancient manuscripts on the subject goes so far as to say that “love suffers all things.” What a powerful warning!
Wo we find ourselves in a profound conflict, where the one thing we all need most comes hand-in-hand with the one thing we all most want to avoid. When we try to have it both ways, we find ourselves frustrated, failing, and frequently miserable. So what’s the alternative?
In a word: balance. The first and hardest step is to accept that pain is a necessary part of life, and that sometimes going through pain may be the right path. From there, you can start to change your outlook from avoiding pain (a hopeless cause in any case), to balancing pain, balancing chaos, with the things that really matter the most. If you can do that, it’s true that you may never live without some risk, but you won’t miss the reward either.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!
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