Dropping the Rope

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”

 Byron Katie

By clinging to what we think should be, we resist what is – often manufacturing our own suffering and stress. This form of unhelpful clinging prevents us from accepting and navigating the reality of our situation as it is. Unfortunately, as humans we have a tendency to cling to things that no longer serve us.

Many years ago, I participated in a workshop run by psychologist Dr Carrie Hayward. During the workshop Carrie physically demonstrated a tug-of-war, straining and pulling an imaginary rope. She explained that the tug-of-war represented the way we struggle with and against our reality. She explained how it is so easy to get single-mindedly caught up in our desire to win the battle. We pull harder and harder believing that through enough resistance and brute force we can bring about the cherished outcomes that we desperately want in our lives. Carrie really threw her whole body into the demonstration, crouching, grunting and straining. It was exhausting just watching her. Suddenly, she stopped and said, ‘by learning to be aware when we are caught up in a tug-of-war with reality… we remember that we can simply drop the rope.’ As she said ‘drop the rope’ and unclenched her fists, the room fell completely silent. She had also dropped a truth bomb and we all felt it. Practicing non-attachment is about remembering that in any moment, we can all choose to ‘drop the rope’.

Dropping the rope is not about not caring – it is about accepting and allowing what is instead of wishing it were different. We experience moments of micro-awakening whenever we  wake up to the reality that an attachment is no longer serving us. Through awareness, we can begin to become aware of alternative, more liberating perspectives that are available to us in any moment.

I often have to remind myself that I can just ‘drop the rope’ when I am with my family. When I remember that I don’t have to engage in bedtime and mealtime ‘battles’ with my young sons, a peaceful solution often emerges fairly quickly. For example, when we go on holidays my kids have trouble sleeping in the same room. When I choose to really accept the reality of that and let go of how I think my they ‘should be’ I am able easily make modifications to bedtime and sleeping arrangements to work with ‘what is’. The result? Our holidays are far more enjoyable for everyone.

Self-fidelity Practice To Play With This Week

I invite you to play with dropping the rope this week. Here are a few questions to help you wake-up and remember that our struggle is often an inside job.

  • What elements of your reality are you resisting ?
  • What would be different if you were to let go of your attachment to what ‘should be’ and instead accept what is?
  • How might you choose to ‘drop the rope’ while still caring deeply?

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