A friend was telling me how she recently arrived at a party and didn’t know anyone there. Immediately she felt awkward, not good enough, ‘out of her power’. Sad and ashamed that as a grown woman she was still prone to feeling this way, and fearful that others might notice her awkwardness, she began forcing her behaviour—to try to make things different, to be rid of the discomfort, to not be ‘found out’.
Then came an extraordinary thought: “Maybe it’s ok to feel awkward?!”
And with that thought she simply relaxed into the feeling of awkwardness to discover, to her amazement, that it really was ok, that it didn’t have to be any different, that she didn’t need to pretend after all.
This is real freedom; freedom that has no prerequisites; freedom within whatever is happening.
Although she’d probably heard that message a thousand times before—to go beneath the storyline and feel deeply into the presently arising dis-ease—this time it suddenly hit home experientially and she could taste its power.
And that same movement, to no longer avoid but rather open to the fullness of the immediate experience, is available to us all, whatever our situation. Whether it’s feelings of vulnerability, anxiety or shame, thoughts about not being good enough, or the discomfort caused by constant striving to ‘fit in’; whether it’s the fear of speaking in front of groups, of being laid bare without our carefully crafted layers of personality for protection, or of seeing all our ‘certainties’ about who we are and what life is, fall apart; whatever it may be that we normally spend our lives trying to avoid or deny, when we dare to drop into the raw, felt experience of those energies, we realise the marvel that who we really are is never threatened.
As our confidence in that recognition grows, as we even start to see beauty in the ‘discomfort’, wonder in its aliveness, we naturally lose interest in playing the game of avoidance—of needing to anaesthetise ourself with compulsive thinking, working, busyness, gossiping, TV watching, drinking, drug taking or whatever our particular means of escape might be.
Then, just like my friend, in being released from all the extra psychological suffering that is born of life needing to be otherwise, we’re free to act naturally and spontaneously, to be playful, creative and connected, to express and celebrate our own uniqueness—we’re free to enjoy the party.