the sharp places

I’ve been thinking a lot about my inner sharp places. Those small, bitter shards of resistance that I so often find myself coming up against. No matter how positive I feel in general, no matter how much toxic baggage I let go of, they’re always there.

I mentioned this to a close friend, and she said that over the years, I’ve helped teach her that we have to face our sharp places “like a ninja.” I love that image. Something about the idea of a silent, sure-footed ninja slipping around in my mind, ready to leap out unexpectedly and catch my most resentful, antagonistic thoughts, is really encouraging.

Most of us seem to have these hard, sharp corners, whatever the causes. We keep bumping into them within ourselves, getting cut and bruised, even acting out in negative ways, until we’re willing to look directly at them. To face them like warriors, like ninjas. When we do, when we fearlessly address the issues and emotions causing them, they stop being so wounding and start to break down. It requires us to be brave and honest, to let ourselves feel our disappointment, pain, shame and anger, rather than resisting it.

Sharp places are resistance in its purest form. We’re hurt, or offended, or resentful, or unwilling to accept the way things are—or all of the above and then some. We’re resisting something we don’t want to face or feel, and creating a razor-sharp edge in the process. Only when we soften around them do the sharp places melt to nothing. It isn’t easy to feel these things or face our own hurt in this way, but it’s far easier than the effort of avoiding or ignoring our resistance to what is. The problems may not go away, but our responses can become more compassionate, conscious and positive.

My friend went onto say the edges won’t get less sharp over time but “we’ll get tougher,” and I believe that’s true. I think when we do honestly face them, look at them unflinchingly, the hard edges dull and disappear—the snag is, there are always news shards of resistance being created within us. So we get tougher over the years, in a sense—we’re less inclined to jump away from the jabs or simply get sliced to pieces over and over again. We stop believing that we deserve those endless stings, and instead open ourselves to the sharpness, to what’s behind it, knowing it’s the only way.

I like the thought of sitting quietly and sensing the various sharp places within me, recognizing and even honoring them as resistance, and then consciously softening around them with each deep breath. I’ll never stop resisting things, or struggling with the emotions that create resistance. Sharp places will always appear. But I don’t have to cut myself on them anymore, pretending they don’t exist.

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