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There are days when I feel like I’m absolutely crazy. One minute, I’ll be laughing heartily, filled with tremendous joy … the next, shaky and unsure of the source of a seemingly endless well of tears. In the past, I would make myself wrong for one or the other, tell myself to get it together and be more even-keeled, less unpredictable.

These days, I’m doing something quite different: Welcoming the extremes.

Allowing these swings of emotion and experience to move through me has become a regular practice. So rather than tamping down the extremes, stemming the accompanying lessons before they have a chance to take their first breath, I’m breathing life into them.

OF COURSE, THERE IS QUITE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING RULED BY EXTREMES AND MOVING WITH EXTREMES.

The former can be very counter-productive and even destructive if we spend much of our time standing in the victim role, at the mercy of the extremes – the proverbial hamster on a wheel. This tends to lead to depletion, confusion and resentment.

On the other hand, when we encourage ourselves to move with the waves – much like an accomplished surfer – we create an opportunity to absorb some of the inherent intensity, rather than to be bowled over by it. From this vantage point, we begin to harmonize with our surroundings, not waste energy pushing against them.

The beauty of this approach is that we are consciously training ourselves to accept that paradox is a fact of life. So that when things are seemingly all over the place – “out of control” – we learn to approach the situation with curiosity. To drop our frantic reactionary doing and open to what is here to be learned.

This reduces the friction and upset that often stem from our need to get things under control, designate situations as “good,” others as “bad” so that we can make some decisions and carry on, thank you.

By labeling our circumstances and subsequently ousting what we have singled out as the “bad” scenario, we quickly snuff the possibility of receiving wisdom from that source, however unexpected or seemingly unlikely.

And so it goes with emotional highs and lows. Just because you have a day when you shed tears of sadness and tears of joy doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Quite the opposite, in fact. When you allow the full range to happen, you liberate yourself from self-censorship, giving yourself room to feel into the fullness of all that is happening in your life.

These are often the moments when we are able to experience great revelation and insight about our lives that were previously elusive.

The paradox of accepting paradox is that it often delivers us closer to middle ground. It’s as if our surrender becomes the remedy to our frenzy and overwhelm, the panacea for the extremes, giving us the power to slow down and tune into the messages that the universe is sending to us in an attention-getting package.

From this vantage point, we can discern what the extremes are here to teach us and act from a place of centered, willing acceptance.

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What are the extremes in your life these days? Are you letting them take over your life or resisting what they have to offer?

Once you get a sense of what the specific extremes are, take a breath and come closer – let them start to teach you, rather than take you down.

It’s a powerful practice.

It takes repetition and courage. And is well worth the investment of your energy and trust.

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