Who We Choose to Be

One of the most transformative questions we can ask ourselves when things feel really hard is “who do I choose to be in this?” We may not be able to fully control what happens but we can choose how we respond to what happens...

After several weeks of doing quite well, I’m grappling with an intense wave of Lyme symptoms. I feel fluish, dizzy, and exhausted, and like my head is full of fog. I’m hot in the face and have ringing in my ears as though a fire alarm is going off non-stop.

In all honesty, I’ve been having a hard time coping. I’ve been trying to outrun my tiredness with coffee and trying to avoid how bad I feel by keeping busy. I’m attempting to escape feeling the pain in my body and how crunchy and yucky I feel. I’m using a lot of energy resisting and trying to push the sensations away.

Resistance says: “I don’t want this. This isn’t supposed to be happening.”

When I have a hard time being compassionate and present with myself, I sometimes imagine myself as a small child of two or three. I imagine how I would be with that little sick one. Would I blame and resent her? Would I ignore her or hate her for not being able to make the illness go away? Would I turn my back on her and deprive her of my love? Of course I wouldn’t. 

Artwork by Willow Arlenea

In that same way as I would be with a child I can choose to be with myself. The question is…who will I be in this? I can’t seem to make it go away regardless of how hard I try. I can’t outrun it—it catches up with me every time. So, who do I choose to be? I can be full of resistance and fear or I can meet my experience with love as best I can moment-by-moment.

Love says: "Come sit on my lap. You are welcome here as you are."

Regardless of what kind of shit soup life lands you in, regardless of how much pain, or seemingly unbearable discomfort you’re in, you have a choice to make. This choice will never be taken from you. You get to choose, as I do, who you will be in this. How will you meet your experience? How will you meet life?

We can choose to be constricted and clamped down in our discomfort or we can decide to be kind and loving with ourselves—to break open instead of closed. We can feel what needs to be felt in terms of grief, anger, and other strong emotions, and ultimately choose to look for blessings even when things are difficult.

When we open our hearts to our pain and discomfort the way that we would with a small child, we find that the heart can actually bear it. Incredibly, the heart has room for it, whatever it is. And then, no matter how hard it gets we still receive the medicine of our own loving and spacious hearts. 

How we are with ourselves is indicative of how we are with others and with the world itself. Choosing love is not only for ourselves, everyone and everything benefits as love ripples outwards.

© 2014 Marie-Ève Bonneau