Ever notice that to get something you want out of life you often have to give something else up? Everything begotten in life comes with a price – a sacrifice or compromise of some kind. If you want a new car or home, you need to spend time, effort, energy and money earned to purchase one. Nothing is free. Everything’s a trade-off. Even “free time” has to be spent in some way. If you spend your free time napping, you won’t get to read that new book you’ve wanted to crack. If you would rather watch your favorite soap opera, you may be giving up your exercise time. The same is true with indulgences. If you eat dessert before dinner, you may not get to fully enjoy your pot roast. It works the same with energy and emotion, too. If you invest yourself in worry and doubt, you can’t feel confident or self-assured. If your efforts are spent on being a great leader, you really can’t just sit back and be a follower, as well. If you want to win the marathon you can’t well smoke three packs of cigarettes a day.
You don’t have to go to extremes to see how one thing trades for another. It’s not just about choice. It’s about the big trade-offs and how they shape your life. You go left instead of right and you find a path either way. Turning left may lead you somewhere you don’t like. But you can turn around and you can always turn right. The point is how does the trade work for or against you. Do you trade your time and energy to create good or do you squander it? It’s always a choice and either way you face the consequences and own the results.
We have to find work, a trade, business – a way to serve – to trade that service for what we want. In college we have to narrow our field of study and pick a major. If you decide to study basket weaving, you can’t also dedicate yourself to attaining a political science degree. Some people are talented and organized enough to try for both, but most will lose ground one way or the other. The concept of multi-tasking encourages a tight rope-balancing act of doing many things at once, but it’s an unrealistic endeavor. You may be able to switch focus many times in a row, but you’re never really paying full attention to more than one task at once. The same is true for every trade-off in life: you have to give up one thing for another in most cases. Career versus family, risk versus safety, practicality versus fun – even health versus disease – all choices that involve compromise and won’t allow for contradiction. Two decisions can’t exist in the same being at the same time. Sometimes you have to trade what you want for what you actually need.
Relationships are all about commitments and compromise. Negotiating one person’s needs and desires with anothers is an art form, even a science, which requires a give and take to satisfy both parties. If you have a family you know this is true. You can’t go on a Vegas party vacation and provide consistent care and stability for those you love without some sacrifice. If you’re developing a trusting partnership with someone, you can’t lie and cheat on them. The contradiction creates so much internal stress that the trust you’re fighting for becomes meaningless and you wind up not being true to yourself or them. If you want to be a team player in business, you probably shouldn’t ignore your team’s needs for your own. Negotiating compromises in relationships is delicate because no one gets exactly what they want but they come closer to the middle where there is peace, resolution or satisfaction. Trying to be selfless and selfish at the same time just won’t work. Energy spent one way means it cannot be spent another. There’s only so much of you to go around. We all want the freedom of choice in life. Choice denotes power and responsibility. Too much choice can be tricky. A need for too much freedom can become chaotic or imprison you in overwhelming liberty, lost in a sea of choices. It can wind up becoming over-indulgence or abuse and you wind up running out of energy, getting sick, broke or worse. Similarly, indecision, indifference, lack of discipline and abuse or over-indulgence can mean giving up your freedom, relinquishing your power to choose a different path. We keep ourselves from being free, from following our dreams and from testing our limits to stay protected from the ramifications our bold choices can and do make. Self-empowerment and encouragement are paths to wellness and success. They allow you to make the big choices that shape your life and lead to your personal happiness. The worst decision is making none. Without willingness to compromise you can guarantee failure. The worst failure comes from not trying. When you try, you’ll find you have to give in at times, to get what you want out of your trial. This is the course of learning and growth that we must all traverse. Inaction is the compromise cowards make with themselves. Action, effort, trial – possible failure – these are the compromises one must make to gain what is sought.
None of us need be limited by what we may have to give up. The only limitation we impose on ourselves is what we are willing to do to get what we want. But sometimes our emotions get in the way of our ability to compromise and choose what’s greater. We can stay stuck in one mode of being, stubbornly clinging to what we can predict, ultimately sacrificing our freedom and success for safety. To end the duality, hypocrisy and contradiction, we have to take the risk of re-programming what we are willing to trade for what we want. Often it means giving up fear and anger or some vice. Trade-offs are risks. But how do we overcome our fears and doubts of the untried or unknown to make life better? How do we trade those feelings, those limits, for what we really want to experience?
To negotiate the freedom we desire, to keep the power and choice we want, to find fulfillment, to go beyond our negative emotions and preconceived notions, we must be willing to trade. Below I have written a set of emotions and actions, choices and compromises, which show how to trade what you want for what you don’t. One the left you’ll see experiences that usually won’t serve you and on the right you’ll see options for what can resolve patterns of self-sacrifice and self-undoing. A tried and true trick for trading off negatives for positives is to focus your energy on the opposite of what you want to change.
There’s a metaphysical way to speed up the process of compromising one feeling experience for another that works wonders. It’s called “finger holding.” While you meditate on the proposed opposites, try taking ten deep breaths while holding the finger that matches the state of mind or emotions you want to change. My experience is that this simple meditation and self-acupressure technique should be practiced as often as needed to reset and recharge your energy and redirect your decision making abilities. I suggest starting with the right and holding the left hand’s fingers working in thumb-to-pinky order. Then work the right hand’s fingers with your left hand. Keep light to moderate pressure on each hold and after ten breaths or about 30-45 seconds you can let go and move on to the next finger. The process should take three to five minutes. Think of it as a sweep, to clear the hands for giving and receiving and cover your bases for emotional self-maintenance. Especially if it’s an emotional issue , hold the corresponding finger on your left hand with your right. If it’s more of a mental or intellectual issue, hold your right fingers with your left hand. Practicing this meditative technique actually changes the way your nerves fire, shifts your energy and focus and clears the way for positive compromise – the trade offs you need and want to become happy, healthy, successful, wise and well.
Opposites: Finger to hold:
Doubt/worry/shame vs. Trust/confidence/pride Thumb
Fear/intimidation/anxiety vs. Love/bravery/passion Index
Anger/frustration/guilt vs. Calm/patience/forgiveness Middle
Grief/sadness/depression vs. Joy/happiness/pleasure Ring
Desire/longing/lack vs. Fulfillment/peace/gratitude Little
Be well & be inspired! ~Namaste