I’ve just read Pema Chodron’s book ‘Start Where You Are: How To Accept Yourself & Others’, a really comforting book to read!
One concept that I loved and applies to my life right now is the ‘Big Squeeze’ the idea that for all of us there is a conflict between our current reality and our aspirations & expectations. On one hand we need to learn to accept where we are at right now, to live in the moment and be grateful for life as it is, on the other hand we still need to aspire to new and better ways of living our lives and often it is in a crisis that we most feel the Big Squeeze….we know where we need to go but our reality presents something different entirely!
To me this sums up my experience of parenting!! From pregnancy there were hopes & aspirations re: birth, sleep, breastfeeding, and time and again reality was different! Some things I needed to accept I could not change, (e.g my house would forever more be messy!) some things like my temper and explosive anger I had to aspire to change but I also had to cope with the roller coaster ride of reality; sometimes improving and sometimes regressing as I went along…
Then there were/are the aspirations and expectations for our own children…..that they would be well-behaved at their Granny’s house or at the shops, that they would eat all healthy food placed before them, that they would willingly keep the house tidy, that they would like school and like doing what I like doing…..all of these things present an opportunity for the Big Squeeze – my well-intentioned aspirations and the reality….and each time it is a difficult task to accept reality but also to choose what I will continue to aspire to, and what expectations were too high in the first place!!!
Then the next area of life that has the Big Squeeze is the area of work / life balance. I’ve just started a new job and I had great aspirations to build and maintain a healthy, creative, mindful, loving life balance (FINALLY!)….and the reality was on top of the exhaustion of learning the ropes my whole family got sick and it is taking awhile to recover, everyone is in a grumpy mood, the reality couldn’t be further from my hopes…..I don’t want to give up hope for a work/life balance but I also need to accept where we are at right now, it just takes the pressure off and makes life a lot easier, one step at a time…. And if I never reach that glorious balance….then I need to find a way of relishing the chaos of family life as it happens, as it unfolds!
I could go on, another big squeeze is in our adult relationships, the reality is often far from how we would like them to be, with our parents, siblings, partner….. and somehow in those still moments when you can accept where the relationship is at right now, and still hold hope for where you would like the relationship to be there is a nice warm peaceful feeling…..it’s just hard to maintain in everyday life!!!
I’m sure I’ll think of many other Big Squeeze moments, can you think of one that you are experiencing in your life?