The Union Path Podcast
"Listening to and Honoring the Deep Aches Within Ourselves"
Is there something you ache for? Is there something you really want? You really really want In fact, it's more than a want it feels like a deep hunger, it feels like something you're starving for. When you probe around inside, in your quiet moments, or in the moments where you're really happy, you're really in a good mood are you reminded that there's a missing element to your life, there's something you really want, there's something whose absence is palpable, makes itself known. You think about your life as if there's just something fundamentally missing, something that just isn't really there and maybe most of the time you can't really put your fingers on it. You're walking around through your life and you're doing the things that you do and yet in the background perhaps way in the background there's something missing, there's something not quite right, and often when this happens, it causes our life to be more about getting things done, more about task completion, more about duty, more about responsibility, than actually honoring the desire within ourselves. And the reason why I ask this is I think this is a pretty common phenomenon, especially for people as they approach mid-age or so, because mid-age is a really interesting time for a bunch of different reasons, but I think one of the most interesting things about it is that it usually marks a boundary. It usually marks a time where there's a pretty significant life change and often this life change takes its form from the fact that if we've been parents for a long time, this is typically the time when our children leave, when our children go off to live their own lives and be their own people and do their own thing. That whenever we go through these boundaries, whenever we go through these transitions, it can be difficult to transition along with them. There can be parts of ourselves that don't really want to go, don't really want to change. They can feel like this change is being foisted upon us, that this isn't something we actually asked for, this is just something we have to do, and so we resist it. We don't want to go along with it.
Like a lot of things, applying resistance to change creates the situation where we miss the opportunity available in change. That is, it's really easy to adopt the mindset that, because things are changing, this is going to be unwanted, this is going to be worse, this is going to have an impact on my life. That not only did I not ask for, but I really don't want. But during times of change, there's a dynamism, there's a fluidity that becomes present and this creates the opportunity for change itself, that when one thing starts to change, it opens up the opportunity for all sorts of other things to change as well. That it's kind of like a lock gets unlocked in our life, and now when one door swings open, multiple doors become available and this can become a little bit overwhelming, especially if we've built a lot of habits and gotten really used to the way our life is.
But when presented with change, I think it's important to keep in mind, or to remember, or to know that no change is inherently good or bad in and of itself. Yes, there are definitely things that happen in our life which we can look at and deem to be bad. There are definitely things that happen in our life that we can look at and deem to be good. But over the longer term, those boundaries, those distinctions between good and bad, get a little bit more fuzzy, a little bit more hazy, aren't quite as clear or quite as easy to know. Because over the longer term, it isn't totally uncommon for good things to turn bad and bad things to turn good. And so when we are going into our life and we're experiencing some sort of change, or even if our life has been stagnant for a long time.
It's important to tune into ourselves, it's important to stay tuned into ourselves and if we realize that there's a deep, aching hunger within us, it's important to listen to. It's as important to listen to as if we realize that there's some sort of undoubt with pain or grief or fear or any other quote-unquote negative feelings. That's important to listen to Deep feelings, no matter how they manifest themselves, no matter what form they seem to take. The deeper the feeling, the more important the meaning. So if we're walking through our life and we're realizing that there's something really fundamental missing, we're walking around partial, we're walking around less than whole, less than complete, because there's something that our life simply doesn't include. Well, it's important to pay attention to that.
And I think we do ourselves a pretty massive disservice if we listen to the coaching and advice to just ignore that, to just be happy with what we have, to just keep doing whatever we've been doing, to just put our head down and work harder, to just focus on getting things done, to just focus on the more superficial aspects of our life, whether they be accumulation or superficial relationships, when we have a deep ache or a deep hunger that's meaningful and it's important for us to listen to. It's important for us to pay attention to, because once we really start to listen and pay attention, it may not be as important as we think it is. For example, if we live alone and we feel a deep, aching hunger for a partner, for companionship, for someone to share a life with, someone to spend our life with, that deep hunger may not be as simple as just getting a partner, getting a companion, getting someone to share a life with. That hunger might speak to all sorts of unmet needs, to a myriad of deep hungers, of deep needs within ourselves. If we can explore these needs, if we can explore these hungers, we can only learn a lot about ourselves, but we can actually start to endeavor after them, start actually working to achieve them and satisfy them in our own life.
Because it's my fundamental belief anyway that when we have a deep aching hunger for something that's telling us something about ourselves, that's missing some aspect of ourselves that isn't being allowed to find expression, that isn't really being allowed to be present, that really isn't being allowed to live and thus is being suppressed and us going through life denying this life force, denying this aspect of ourselves to actually be able to live, to be alive, is causing harm, that the restraint of this life force, energy within us on some level is negatively affecting us, is creating its opposite. That us subverting and repressing and suppressing this life urge, this aliveness within us, is actually creating its opposite, is diminishing the rest of our life. Because it's also one of my fundamental beliefs that we're not meant to go through life frustrated. We're not meant to want things just to be denied those very things. That's not the point. We don't have hungers and appetites and wants and needs and passions and drives just to frustrate ourselves. And that the point of life isn't to get to a point where we get rid of all of these needs, all of these desires, all of these hungers, that the point of life isn't to completely remove all aspects of desire and hunger and want and passion and need. In fact, I believe it's quite the opposite. I believe we have these things for a reason we're driven, for a reason we pursue, for a reason we want, for a reason we enjoy, for a reason that these feelings, especially when they're felt very deeply, especially when they feel like they come from the core and the source of ourselves is actually the best guidance that we have to walk through our life, the best wayfinding tools that we have to find our way to our best life, to the life that is really ours, to what we actually want. That these feelings are not there just to torment us. Where these feelings aren't there, to be eliminated, to be found to be unnecessary, to be found to be unhelpful Again, quite the opposite.
That it's important to listen, it's important to acknowledge, it's important to not take parts of ourselves and stuff them into a tiny box. Granted, this doesn't mean that we have to completely blast every aspect of ourselves to every person that we come across. It's really much more about acknowledgement. It's really much more about self-awareness, about knowing who and what we actually are, about knowing what we actually want, what we actually need. Is this knowing as fundamental to self-knowing? We can't really know ourselves if we don't really know what we want. We can't really know ourselves if we don't really know what we need, and we can't really know ourselves if we don't really know what we value. All of these things are inherent in self-awareness. These are important aspects of ourselves. But by listening, by acknowledging again, it doesn't mean we just have to leap into the first thing that might match. Whatever these hungers are, whatever these needs are, plumsiness and haste are really useful.
And the point isn't so much about having a reactivity to these feelings, the point is to have a receptivity to these feelings. The point is just to acknowledge, just to know, because oftentimes when we have suppressed feelings, that's most of the battle, that's most of the job, is to acknowledge them, is to know them. Whatever we're supposed to do with those feelings, with that knowing, will emerge over time. We usually don't have to actually figure that part out. That part isn't usually that much work. What we're supposed to do with this information usually emerges by itself. The work is in first feeling, first acknowledging, first bringing these feelings up, bringing these feelings to light. So stop suppressing, stop resisting, to get out of the way, to remove the barriers that we've placed within ourselves. That's the hard part.
The hard part is to face the thing we've been trying to hide from ourselves, to face the aspects of ourselves that, for whatever reason, we've deemed insufficient, incorrect, wrong and then moved through life with the awareness, with the wholeness of our full selves. And so when we start to listen to these deep aches and we start to really tune in to what's going on within us deep down and when we get under the incessant chatter of our minds, the incessant commentary about everything, and we go a little bit deeper and we get into our bodies a little bit and we can feel these layers of feeling, things start to slow down. The way I think about it in any way is when we think about our minds, the activity of our thoughts can just seem like bees in a hive of where it's just constant movement, constant agitation, constant action. But when we get down deeper and deeper within ourselves, we find things slow down. Things become a little bit more subtle, almost like when we're descending in water and we leave all of the noise and turbulence and activity of the surface. And the deeper we go down, the quieter things get, the larger things get, the more fundamental things get.
And as we probe down within ourselves, we may come across these aches, we may come across these deep-seated, unfulfilled, unrequited desires. And when we come across these things, it's important to acknowledge them, it's important to listen, because this is telling us something about ourselves, this is telling us something about our life, this is useful feedback, this is important for us to know, and to know fully and to be curious about, really explore, really engage with. It sounds kind of funny, but really get to know ourselves. Who are we really? What do we want really? What do we need really Deep down on the inside?
So many of us spend so much time knowing ourselves merely superficially. What do we look like, how do we act? What's our personality like? What do other people think of us? When we really start to explore down deeper and deeper, then we can really get somewhere. We can get to know ourselves below our superficial, below our personality, below our exterior, to something much more fundamental, to something much more real.
And it's this knowing that can have the biggest change, the biggest effect on our life. Because once we start to bring our life in line, in alignment with this more fundamental aspect of ourselves, then our life really starts to shift, really starts to change In a lot of ways. Our life starts to take on the character of this deeper part of ourselves. Our life gets slower, our life gets more simple, our life gets more straightforward, our life starts to take on the tone of these deeper waters Calmer, quieter, more fundamental, more basic. We can spare ourselves the anxiety of an exclusively superficial life by exploring the depths within ourselves and then allowing those depths to find expression and then allowing that expression to color our life, to shape our life, we can allow our life to reflect and resonate with that tone.
And at the very least, it's just important to know ourselves, to know ourselves fully, because we can create a lot of air in our life, a lot of conflict, by going through our life, thinking we know ourselves, thinking we know who we are. But do we? Because when we really know ourselves, our life is different, our life really changes, sometimes in cataclysmic ways, sometimes in profoundly positive ways. And that's the power of this knowing, that's the power of this awareness that it gets to the bedrock, it gets to the origin of our life. It can't help affect what we do, how we behave, because all of our behavior, all of our doing is informed, is influenced, originates from this knowledge of ourselves, from this self-knowing. We can't help it. We can look around everyone that we interact with. We can look at ourselves and our past action and realize that every bit of action and behavior originates from sense of self, that, on a fundamental level, we do what we do because we believe this is who we are. We believe this is what we need, we believe, this is what we want.
When we change those beliefs, when we inform that knowing with something deeper, something more fundamental, then that can't help but change our life, because the origin from which we do everything, the reason why we do what we do, changes, shifts. It's kind of like the idea if we have some sort of chronic illness or chronic issue within our body, it's one thing to treat the symptoms, but it's quite another to actually get at and do something about the cause, to get at the origin of where this illness, where this issue comes from. We can do the same thing with ourselves, the same thing with our lives. The more we connect with the fundamental, the more we connect with these ideas of consciousness, these ideas of how we conceive ourselves, the more we impact our life. And this impact largely plays out automatically. We don't have to go around perfectly intentionally doing everything. Our doing will change because our sense of being, our ideas of who and what we are have changed.
And so, getting back to the original question, the original idea, if we identify deep aches, deep needs within us, acknowledging those deep aches, those deep needs, integrating this knowledge and this awareness into our sense of ourselves, into our knowing of who we are, can help us change our life, can help us automatically reorient our lives towards satisfying those hungers, towards immediately rating those aches. Once we know something new about ourselves, it's almost impossible for that knowing to not be integrated into our being, into our doing. And one thing we can always do for ourselves one bit of grace, one bit of kindness we can always extend ourselves is to listen to ourselves, is to honor ourselves, to give ourselves some attention, give ourselves some validation, because a lot of times the reason why we have these deep aches, these deep hungers, is because someone, somewhere, talked us out of them. Maybe that someone was ourselves, but often this comes from someone else. This comes from society or culture or a well meaning person of authority trying to protect us, trying to spare us. This is something we do as parents all the time, is that we try to set off our children on the safest path possible.
And if we've gone through life and we have these buried desires and buried dreams and buried hungers and buried wants and buried aches, we're the ones who can excavate them, we're the ones that can bring them back up, we're the ones who can acknowledge them, and perhaps that's precisely what we've been waiting for.
Perhaps we've been going through our life, going into our life, waiting for life to give us the opportunity to express these aspects of ourselves, to address these aches, to address these hungers, and maybe what we've actually been waiting for is our own acknowledgement. Maybe that expression is incumbent on our own acceptance. Maybe we're the ones who we've been waiting to do something. Maybe we're the ones who've been waiting to give us permission, give us an opportunity to explore and express these aspects of ourselves. And if we're the ones we've been waiting for, this is a gift, this is grace, and we can extend ourselves. Because this is a gift and this is grace that we can extend ourselves. We can choose to do this whenever we wish. And so if we find these aches and these hungers within us, we'll not extend this grace, we'll not give this gift now?