In business school, I had this radical professor who taught us all about business management from the perspective of quantum physics. He blew my mind in every class, in every interaction I had with him. When we studied chaos theory, the main thing I remember was his excitement when he would talk about the inherent order that exists in chaos.
As a young 20-something, it opened up a new way for me to approach my upbringing.
Was it possible that there was order in the chaos that I had experienced? Was it possible that there was order to be found in my internal chaos?
The questions stood guard as I continued drinking.
I drank to avoid the chaos. But the drinking created chaos as well. It created layers of internal quicksand and external damage. When I finally stopped drinking 13 years ago, I often said to my (very patient) therapist that navigating my internal thoughts and emotions felt like running through thick mud. Not to mention the external damage repair that I had to face. Debt and my relationship with myself being the biggest elements of chaos that needed my attention.
Where the fuck was the order in the chaos? I just wanted it to be easier.
The more I wanted it to be easy, the harder it seemed to get. Arguing with chaos is not a strategy I recommend.
Navigating the storm.
Get Right with Money started last week. The first thing I ask the women in the program to do is to notice the chaos that they are swimming in financially as a result of their family money legacy. They may have been avoiding it for years, distracting themselves, living in a state of reaction, and then ignoring the results and the pain of living this way. Barely keeping the chaos contained.
I so get it. And I am deeply in love with their courage.
By this point, they are starting to realize that whether you distract yourself from chaos or face it squarely, it's still there. The more you try to escape it, the louder it gets.
The chaos wants you to find the order and the beauty. And it won't stop chasing you until you do.
I can see clearly now....
What you (me, we) see in the chaos can feel ugly. However, you cannot work skillfully with something you can't (or refuse) to see.
When you find the courage to stop adding to the chaos and see what's happening in the present moment (even if it's incredibly sad or overwhelming or pisses you off) then, THEN, you have the power to choose your next step.
The chaos shows us very clearly (every time) where we've given away our ability to choose, where we've been living in a state of reaction, where we've lied to ourselves, the ways in which we've sold out. It shows us the destructive ways that we've tried to stay in the good graces of 'everyone', the ways that we've discounted ourselves because we just want to be loved, the ways that we've turned away from ourselves time and again and the lies that we tell when no one is listening but us.
The admission alone is liberating.
Let me be clear, this is not about trying and judging yourself.
When you can clearly see the truth of your situation, when you can just notice the chaos and the impact that reacting to it has had on your life, it can change the trajectory of your life in an instant. You may feel fear, but you aren't adding to it through avoidance. You may be angry, but you aren't fueling it by blaming others for your circumstances. You may feel grief, but you aren't amplifying it by trying to pretend it's not there.
You aren't hiding anymore. You lean into the chaos. You decide to respond instead of react.
It takes a leap of faith to face the chaos.
To trust that you will make it to the other side. To stop shadow boxing with the past and instead make present-tense choices that are for you and the future you want to create.
On some level, we all know this. We all know that avoiding and resisting the chaos doesn't work. That the dark is a catalyst for the light. That the only way through is through.
Lean into your chaos to find the perfection, the beauty and the inherent order.
It's there, I promise.
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