On Commitment



Every now and then, a particular observation or topic comes to me and I start chewing on it, so to speak, feeling it out in my body, noticing the images and words that come up with it as I do so.

Lately, it's been on commitment. My sense is that commitment is, in a way, the only choice there is. There is committing, and then there's not committing. Everything else is outside our control. And that is what we spend the vast majority of our lives engaging in: controlling behaviors. We try to achieve the outcome we want, try to fix ourselves or others, try to bend reality to our will with force and dominance. I believe there is another, less exhausting way, though I'll be honest: it comes with its own challenges. The good thing is that I don't think there is such a thing as being fully human without challenges, only the kind of challenges we end up with. And it is one of the hardest things to come to terms with as a human being: the realization that we have so little control. We may accept that we can only control ourselves, but even then, examining that, we come to see that within ourselves there is much we can't control, or that if we do, it often comes with terrible consequences. If we try to control our emotions, we tend to suppress them, and dire consequences for our well-being, our health, our joy, our relationships follow. We even have difficulty controlling the thoughts that pop into our mind and, again, doing so is often exhausting. We often find the best we can do is practice observational skills and grounding, cultivating curiosity and nonjudgmental awareness like a garden, seeing if there is another way to be with reality and who we really are, moment to moment, and then noticing what shifts occur from there. And this brings me to the power of commitment. When I get a sense of what commitment is like somatically, I notice it's almost like a prayer, or like a powerful intention. It's not so much a heady, steadfast determination to force reality into the box I've set up for it, but more like a rooting into the ground like a tree, my feet firmly planted in the present moment, on the ground, but my eyes taking in my surroundings, my arms light and loose, my chest relaxed and open, my mind clear. But first, I have to walk out of the forest into an open field where I'm exposed, nothing to hide behind or cling to. It's like walking out into this wide grassy field and yelling "FUCK!!" at the top of your lungs into the clear sky, flocks of birds taking flight in terror. It's getting profoundly honest that it's scary to be this vulnerable, acknowledging that I don't know exactly what to do or where this will take me, much less what I might have to face within myself. It's admitting that I don't have all the answers, that this journey might take me down some unexpected rabbit holes if I truly commit to it, and that it likely won't be a cakewalk. But it is this rooting into the ground - both feeling the ground beneath me in a very physical way, but also noticing the stability of the "ground" as the present moment I'm in - that allows me to commit to my process of healing, to a kind of radical authenticity, to sanity beyond the bounds of our contemporary society's definitions. I begin with honesty and grounding, and then I can feel and be with the parts of me that are scared, listen to them, and then commit with a gentle holding of them. The wording of our commitment might be different, but after years of haphazardly engaging in this practice, often spontaneously and impulsively whenever I felt stuck or unsure what to do next, I find that the words, while immensely personal, are maybe one of the least important parts to stating one's commitment to a journey. Commitment is nothing if we don't believe what we are committing to with every bone in our body, every fiber of muscle. We have to feel that desire and decide to get entirely on board with it, and then realize the rest is beyond our control. What is most powerful about this, I find, is the way life responds. Magical things can happen. Opportunities that we may have missed or passed up when we were ambivalent or conflicted may suddenly seem to be everywhere. Insights come out of nowhere, books or articles or conversations that feel supportive are more resonant and provide direction. We're on board now, and our very senses are like radar, noticing anything and everything that enters our experience that gives us a sense of direction, that feel right. The paradox is... you guessed it: we can't control when we're ready to commit. Ironically, sometimes the most helpful thing is to own all the parts of us that aren't ready to, and to feel those, listen to those, respect them, see what they may need. It can't be forced. The beautiful thing is that, as we cultivate that garden of observation, nonjudgmental noticing, curiosity, it is only a matter of time before commitment springs forth from that same soil.

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Kristy Johnsson, LLC
Earth Soma Counseling
E-mail: counseling@kristyjohnsson.com
 Tel: 307-200-7109