I feel like I complain kind of a lot. I get disappointed and frustrated fairly easily. And I pour out these disappointments and frustrations on the internet fairly often. At least that’s how it seems to me. So I find it surprising that people still make comments about how I’m always positive. They want to know how I do it.
The answer is simple. I don’t.
Seriously, though. I’ve been thinking about it, and the reason I’m always positive is because I’m not. And I know that sounds confusing. I guess a better way to say it is that the reason I am able to be positive is because I don’t stay that way.
It’s because first, I feel the feelings. Then second, I regroup. I bounce back. I rally.
It’s not at all that I’m always positive, but rather it’s just that I’m really good at rallying. And I think the reason I’m good at rallying is because I let myself feel the feelings first.
Just before I started writing this post, I was looking around my room trying to figure out exactly how to say what I wanted to say, because of course all the best inspiration comes from staring at walls. In this case, however, I really did get some help from the walls. Well, I got some help from my calendar, but my calendar hangs on the wall so I think it still counts. Anyway, being that it’s the last day of September, it seemed like a good time to actually read this month’s quote. Here’s what September says…actually here is what someone named David Whyte once said:
The task is not to live a life in which we never have our heart broken. The task is to become larger with each heartbreak.
Life is full of heartbreak. Sometimes it seems like that’s all there ever is. Heartbreaks, letdowns, roadblocks, disappointments. But these heartbreaks, letdowns, roadblocks, and disappointments only exist because we first have wishes, hopes, goals, and expectations. And these are good things.
It is possible to never be let down in life, to never be disappointed. It’s possible to never feel heartbroken. You just have to never care about anything. Easy.
Easy, sure. But if you don’t care about anything, what is even the point?
I’ve tried not caring before. I thought it would be easier. I thought I was protecting myself, because after enough losses, after enough spirit crushing setbacks, sometimes it seems easier to just not care. If I don’t care what happens with my health, then so what if things get worse instead of better? If you’re not invested in your job, then what’s the big deal if someone isn’t happy with your work? If you distance yourself from the important people in your life, then they don’t have to take on your problems and you don’t have to take on theirs. That’s just better for everyone, right?
Not caring is exhausting. So is pretending not to care.
Caring is exhausting, too, actually. It means living through the heartbreaks, letdowns, roadblocks, and disappointments, and these are exhausting. But it also means learning through these things, growing through them. And it also means opening yourself up to purpose and connection, excitement and fulfillment. And joy. Caring creates joy.
Then when caring hurts, which it will sometimes, feel it. Feel the sadness and the sorrow. Feel the frustration and the grief. Feel all the feelings. And remember that you’re feeling them for a good reason. You’re feeling them because you had hope. Or because you made yourself vulnerable. Or because you allowed yourself to dream. Or because you took a risk. You’re feeling them because you were brave enough to be hopeful and vulnerable, and to dream. Because you were brave enough to care.
And sure, you can pretend not to care. You can carry on without feeling the feelings, but then you’ll have nothing to learn from. You’ll have nothing to grow and change through. Those feelings that you denied won’t go anywhere and instead they will start wearing you down. My calendar says the task is to become larger with each heartbreak; well you can’t become larger through heartbreak without first feeling heartbreak. And you can’t feel heartbreak without first caring about something.
Those times that I tried not caring, I did so because I was miserable, and trying not to care only made me more miserable. It didn’t make it possible to be positive all the time. In fact, it made it pretty much impossible to be positive any of the time. Some things are worth caring about; they’re worth the sadness, sorrow, frustration and grief. And the reason I’m able to rally, the reason I’m able to be positive any of the time, is because these same things are worth rallying for.
So care. And then feel the feelings. But try not to give them too much power. And then pick yourself back up. Regroup. Rally. Come up with a new plan. Because if it’s worth caring about then it’s worth rallying for. Because you’re worth both. Because so many things in life are.
And then, start all over again.
Care. Feel. Rally.
16 thoughts on “Care. Feel. Rally. Repeat.”
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Catherine, it truly has been my pleasure to meet you. I’ve now read everything on your blog (now that I don’t have a dog to walk…). You’re an inspiration to more people than I think you know. Love your honesty, some days not easy to be upbeat…
Your mom is right – you really are a wonderful person. Believe it.
Hugs to Flash and you.
I’ve been feeling so hopeless lately dealing with my deteriorating health & tests after tests that still don’t prove what, exactly, has been wrong with me. Dealing with the symptoms of a diagnosed disease but also undiagnosed ones is incredibly exhausting, but this post truly helped. I feel so much and sometimes I wish I didn’t, but you’re right- you need to feel everything if you want to feel anything. Keep sharing your light with others ❤️
Ugh, your situation sounds so familiar and that both hurts my heart and heals my heart. Sending hugs your way!
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Oh, Catherine! You are so wise! I have two grandchildren who, for 15 and 12, go through many ups and downs simply by being 15 and 12! This is such good advice for them. I will certainly share it with them, time and again, as it is wisdom that can help at any stage of their journey of life and living! Thank you for sharing all your profound wisdom. I agree, it should be shared with the multitudes. Perhaps it will give more people hope in our struggling world! Love you! Diana U.
Thanks Mrs. U – I wonder if high school would have been easier if I knew then what I knew now – ha! I hope you’re well 🙂
It’s funny you say this, because I was told something similar on my group support site! And I had the same reaction you did. I love how you put it into word, because it is so true! I got me GJ tube done Sept 6th and had a lot of complications right ff the bat ( I won’t go into it right now) and I felt like all I did was complain! But I’m finally starting to rally!
Thank you as always for saying what I ( and I’m sure others) feel!
Brightest Blessings, and I hope your doing well!
A GJ tube is a BIG adjustment so you have every right to complain. I’m sorry to hear of your complications. I promise, though, it does get easier and in enough time it will just be routine…hopefully anyway! I do hope things are a bit smoother for you now and that you’re hanging in okay 🙂
So beautifully said, my dear niece.!
With so much love,
Auntie Mo xoxo
Thank you Catherine.
You’ve nailed it.
This piece needs to be read by everyone.
I’ve always read you as resiliently realistic…and realistically resilient. It’s a healthier form of optimism than most people ever manage in the undertow of life complications.
Frankly, this post of yours should be headline news, instead of the doomsday politics and celebrity rumor mill. We should all be reminded of your PSA once in a while: care, feel, rally…and repeat.
(I think I might have a new mantra. 😜)
Aw thank you Kate! Care, feel, rally, repeat is my mantra at the moment and it does help. I actually had someone ask me yesterday if I have just stopped getting my hopes up, and I used that mantra to explain why I don’t. I hope you’re having an okay day whenever you read this!
How did I ever give birth to someone so wise? I mean I always knew you were an old soul but really…you have learned this in 26 short years and so many don’t ever learn this. I love you to the moon and back…care, feel, rally repeat…
Well I would prefer not to delve into the details of my birth story on my blog! Haha. And also thanks, mom. You da best.