The Union Path Podcast - A practical spiritual podcast about truth, awareness, and walking the path of unity.
The Union Path Podcast
"When Holding Back Holds Us Back"
Play it safe. Take it easy. Just take what you can get. Do less. Stop trying so hard. Stop trying to be so much compromise settle. Sometimes this can be good advice, but other times this can be terrible advice. This can be advice that really stunts a life. This can be advice that really erects an insurmountable obstacle because it amounts to us standing in the way of what we really want, or at the very least, it amounts to us negotiating with ourselves.
Trying to barter down and away from what we actually want. Trying to get less, trying to do less, trying to be less. This is one of the tricky, or at least complicated, or perhaps just highly nuanced aspects of life. These aspects where discernment comes in, where experience matters, where perspective matters.
Especially by about the time we've reached midlife or so, when we're not quite so naive, when we're not so quick to just jump in to any new next thing. We develop a sense of caution. We develop a sense of trepidation, we develop a sense of wanting to wait. We develop the ability to account for and predict all of the possible negative aspects and outcomes that could come to us through pursuing what we want.
Sometimes we go after what we want and we lose. Sometimes we lose big, sometimes we get hurt. Sometimes we get damaged and all of this hurt and this damage takes a toll. Disappointment when it's frequent and consistent and reliable enough takes a toll, this causes harm. This, these hits we take really seem to hurt.
Our spirit really seems to. Injure us on the inside really seems to diminish our spark, diminish our energy because of course it is painful. It is painful to experience and absorb these heart hurts of where our heart gets hurt. Cuz our heart was invested in what we were doing. We were going after something that really mattered to us or going after something we really wanted.
We really cared. Love was involved, and to be disappointed, to be let down, to fail, to fall short, to be rejected, to not get what we want is painful. And if we experience pain often enough, we're gonna learn some lessons. We are going to learn. What not to do. We're going to learn what not to try. We're gonna start to avoid risk.
We're gonna start to avoid danger cuz that just hurts too much. It hurts too much to experience that. It hurts too much to go through that it hurts too much. Just put ourself in a place where we could be harmed like that again. But the unfortunate lesson that some of us learn is that we can have what we want if we just want less.
We can do what we want if we just do less, if we just compromise, if we settle, if we hold back from what we really want, and it seems to make a lot of sense. It seems to make a lot of sense to be more reasonable because of course, at least to face value, being reasonable is reasonable. And of course, going after things that just don't seem to work or at literal least don't seem to work for us.
There is a sense of futility in continuing with that after it's proven to not really be available for us to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again to keep banging our head against the same low ceiling over and over again. Well, at some point we have to ask ourselves, why aren't we ducking?
Why do we continue to hurl ourselves, headlong into something that consistently does hurt us, does harm us? These are really good questions. But of course, it's not really that simple, especially in matters of the heart. There's a lot of nuance to it. There's a lot of complexity to it. It doesn't really respond to cut and dry logic.
It doesn't really respond to perfect and pure rationality. The heart wants what it wants. We yearn for what we yearn for. We desire what we desire, and we can't fake it. We can't manufacture it. We can't pretend that we want what we don't want. We also can't pretend that we don't want. What we do, this is at the crux of the human condition.
This creates both a lot of the sublime joy as well as some of the horrendous pain that we experience in life. This dynamic, these forces of these heartfelt desires are really the source of a tremendous amount of joy and pain in our life. We can all come to the point of realizing that the pain just hurts too much.
Come to the conclusion that we'd rather trade away some of our joy to be able to spare ourselves for some pain. But sometimes we can take this bargain a little too far. Sometimes we can overlearn the lesson of what's actually dangerous through correlating. That when something hurts us once, that must be dangerous.
That must be avoided at all costs. But if we cut ourselves off, if we eliminate and ignore what we really, truly, deeply want, if we negotiate or with ourselves away from what we really want, if we really are only going after a partial measure of what we really want. Then that's us making our lives smaller.
That's us making our lives a little more bleak, a little more grim, a little less bright, a little less colorful. That's us sapping and sabotaging the potential joy and energy and those liveness that we could feel from life through refusing to go with ourselves, to go with our desires, to follow our hearts.
And again, by no means is it this simple. By no means of this easy, if we'd figure this out, well, there'd be no reason for the majority of the music and poetry that exists. Human beings have struggled with this since human beings were a thing and will probably struggle with it, and until they're not anymore.
This is just part of the human condition. And to me anyway, the important lesson to learn isn't avoidance. Its acceptance is really coming to a place where realizing that pain is part of the deal. It's part of the bargain. Heartbreak goes hand in hand. It's part and parcel with living a heart-centered life.
There's no way around it. If we're living through our heart, our heart is gonna get hurt through some of that living. Now, of course our heart is gonna get filled through some of that living too, and trading away one often trades away the other. And so when we make these negotiations, when we make these bargains, the most important thing for us to know, or the most important thing for us to realize is exactly what we're trading away.
We can learn the really unfortunate lesson that the route to what we want is to want less. That the route to be who we want is to be less. That the route to the life we want is to want less, and this can instill habits of holding back. This can instill habits of being less, of doing, less, of pretending that we want less, pretending we are less.
We can construct all sorts of artificial ideas about ourselves by choosing to adopt ideas about what we want, choosing to adopt false or artificial ideas about what we want, that we can go into our life holding back. We can go into our life asking for less, pursuing, less convincing ourself. We actually want less.
Because on some level this is true. Of course, we want less pain. No one wants to have their heart broken. No one wants to experience the pain and the grief and the sorrow of heartbreak. But again, to my way of thinking anyway, this is part of the deal. This is part of a full life, is living through and experiencing heartbreak.
It's also part of a full life. To experience joy, peace, love, excitement, enjoyment, because the problem is when we start eliminating things from our life, when we start conditioning our life and steering it away from experiencing certain types of feelings, and we limit our life and we limit our ability to experience the opposite of these feelings as well.
That if we make cuts on one side of the spectrum, there'll be equal cuts on the other. And the more we cut, the more we trim, we influence and guide ourselves to a life just lived in the middle. A life of, it's okay. It's fine. A mediocrity of compromise, of settling, of holding back. But if we find ourselves unfulfilled, if we find ourselves feeling empty, if we find ourselves with a yearning or a hunger for something, but we don't really know what it is, then one of the things that can be really useful is to look at our own holding back, or at the very least, look at the areas of our life or our own holding back is holding us back when the side effects of us trying to avoid pain.
It's causing us to avoid joy as well, and to really be honest about that, really be honest with the cost of settling, with the cost of compromise, with the cost of not actually going for what we really want. The cost of always choosing less, doing less, being less, because if we find ourselves at a place in life or dissatisfied, we're just.
Really uninspired, unmotivated could be really useful to ask ourselves, well, are we actually pursuing what we really want? Is part of our malaise, part of our melancholy due to the fact that we ourselves are holding us ourselves back from what we actually want? We ourselves are holding ourselves back from the types of feelings and experiences that we really want, that even if we achieve what we set out to.
The result of that, the reward of that will still be less than what we actually want. Are we cheating ourselves out of the life experience that we actually want because of our own holding back? Because of our own fear? Because we can ask ourselves, have we really tried? Have we really ever tried to go after what we really want?
And if we have, and it didn't work out, challenge that a bit. Say, did that not work out because it will never work out or just not work out that one time. Or did we find ourselves going after what we really wanted and then fear stepped in, or we started trying to condition it. We started trying to make it a certain way.
We started trying to force the flow of desire in life to only certain things. We became less open, we became less receptive. We started resisting the flow of desire in our own life, and then things started to fall apart. And then things started to get hard cuz we weren't going into it as open as we were when we started.
We weren't really following our hearts completely. Our minds got in the way. Our fears got in the way, our insecurities got in the way. Perhaps some well-meaning people in our life got in the way. Perhaps some well-meaning, but unfortunate advice to avoid pain, avoid risk. Got in the way because to me anyway, there's actually something worse than not getting what you want and that's actually getting what you don't want.
At least for me anyway, I can deal with disappointment, I can deal with heartbreak, I can deal with the sorrow and the pain of not getting what I want. Cuz on some level at least I knew that I was pursuing what I wanted. That it almost seems like little tiny death to let that go. That to me anyway, that's really where hopelessness starts.
That the headwaters of despair really line the area of letting go of what I want of ceasing to pursue the full version of what I want, of compromise of settling. These forces are corrosive to the soul, these forces. Diminish energy, life aliveness, and it is perfectly understandable why we do this. It's perfectly understandable why we avoid pain.
Pain is painful. Pain can be awful to go through. Again. When we make these deals, when we make these bargains, it's really important that we go into these situations with her eyes open, understand what we're trading away, understand what we're giving up. And then personally reconciling, is that worth it?
And if it is, it is. But if it isn't, it isn't. Cuz we all have the opportunity in our own lives to choose what we pursue. We have that agency, we have that power. To choose the path of our life based on what we pursue, and we can choose to pursue more and we can choose to pursue less. We can choose to pursue what we want and we can choose to pursue what we don't actually want.
Because if we choose a partial version of what we want, if we for some reason decide that the full version of what we want, the full throated version of the. Desire that's speaking to us is just too much that we compromise. We decide pursue less, and then we achieve it. Not only does that have a subtle but latent sense of disappointment right there, that achievement is taking up the space that what we actually want could have occupied.
That us compromising and us settling can amount to us filling our lives, but not only things that we don't actually fully want, but we can fill our lives with things that end up taking up the space of what we actually do. And this is something we all have to work out within ourselves. This is something we all have to figure out.
We all have to ask ourselves the question. Am I pursuing a half step when only a full step will do? Is this only a partial measure of what I actually want? Have I developed habits of pursuing less than I actually want, less than I actually want to experience less than I actually am? And what has that effect been on my life?
Do I look at my life and feel like I'm just surrounded by a repetitive, mundane, banality, that more than anything I wanna step out of because to live a life holding back to live a life held back doesn't feel like a full life. We don't really feel alive. And for a lot of us, I'd make the argument for most of us.
That's actually all we really want. We can think, we want all sorts of different circumstances. We can think, we want all sorts of different relationships. We can think we want all sorts of specific things, but oftentimes when we boil it down to what we actually want, what's behind those desires, it's actually the desire to feel alive, the desire to feel free, the desire to feel whole.
The desire to feel fulfilled and connected with life itself, and often, if not nearly always. There's very little in life that makes us feel more alive than accomplishing and experiencing the full version of our desires. But if it's a full life we want, if it's a complete life, we want, in a lot of ways, we really have no choice.
We really have no choice. But to pursue the full version of what we want, of course, it's up to us how we do that, and we can still apply our learning, our discernment, our wisdom, our knowing in the pursuit of what we want. We don't each just flail ourselves blindly into life. We're meant to use our experience.
We're meant to use what we've learned, but we don't need to hold back as a reflex. We don't need to be scared of our desires. We don't need to find the full version of what we want. Frightening. We can try, we can use all of our experience, all of our abilities, all of our discernment, to find the path, to pursue what we really want.
Because perhaps in a lot of ways what we want, most of all, Is to be free. Is to free ourselves, is to allow our spirit, allow our heart, allow who and what we really are. Pursue fullness. To experience fullness, to go after the full version of the life that we actually want to live. And if we're the ones holding ourselves back, we are the only ones.
We can free ourselves. That freedom, that liberation that we learn for, we're the ones that we're waiting for to do it. We're the ones with the agency. We're the ones with a say. We can choose to stop holding back whenever we wish. We can choose to stop living a life that's held back by releasing our own grip.
On ourselves, on our wants, on our desires, on our pursuits, whenever we wish. And of course, we should be mindful. Of course, we should be aware. Of course, we should be compassionate and considerate. Of course, we should be generous. Of course, we should be giving. But we should be all these things to ourselves too.
We can nurture and grow what we really want. We can pursue what we really want. We can nourish our own lives by setting ourselves free, by liberating ourselves to pursue the full version of our desires, to pursue the full version of who we really are, to pursuing the full version of what we really want, what we actually want, not what we've talked ourselves into, not what someone else has talked us into.
The full version, no half steps, no half measures, no holding back, no compromise. And I think when we connect with the full version of what we want, we connect with the full versions of our desires, we can feel that energy, we can feel that motivation. You can feel that aliveness returning to our life. If this has been the missing element for us, if this has been the spice of life that we are so starving for, so almost desperate for, then it's we ourselves that can return this aspect to our own life.
It's we ourselves that we're waiting for, and this is an idea to sit with. This is an idea we can experiment with. What would my life be if I wasn't holding back? How is my life and my life experience being held back by my own holding back? And this is personal. These answers are different for everyone, but it can be really useful.
It can be really helpful. It can be really vital. Ask ourselves these questions and then honor the answers to honor our own desires. To not negotiate down, to not eliminate, to not trade away the full versions of what we want, but to go into life feeling fully alive cuz we are pursuing the things that make us feel fully alive.
We are pursuing our desires in their fullness, and thus pursuing a life live in fullness as well. Pain and all. Sorrow and all disappointment, and all rejection and all joy, and all rapture and all nourishment and all love and all because if we've learned to hold our lives back because we're scared of pain, the thing we're really holding back is love.
The thing we're really holding back is what we actually really want to experience. That as much as we'd like to avoid the experience of pain, an experience that's even worse is avoiding love, is eliminating love, and we can connect with love in our life by connecting with what we actually love and the best precursor, the best.
Symbol, the best harbinger that we're going to experience something we love is felt through our own desire. Desire is a prerequisite to love. Desire is the genesis, the beginning, the headwaters of love. And if we can experience a far more loving life by listening to and honoring our desires in their full form.
And we get to choose. We can liberate ourselves whenever we wish, but if it's a full life that we want to live, then that's a life that must be lived with the full version of our desires that are then lived and experienced through a full and open heart.