I've always been the type of person who puts energy and effort into what I want.
If i desire it, you bet I'm going to go after it. If it's something that is worthwhile, I put my time, my energetic and financial resources into it. Makes sense right? That's what we've been taught; we get what we put in, go after what you want, early bird gets the worm.
Efforting, a term I heard from Esther Hicks, is when trying too hard keeps us from the very thing that we want most. The premise is that by letting go and allowing we invite in what we desire. This isn't a new philosophy, it has been echoed by many teachers in one form or another from Alan Watts, to Paulo Coelho, Deepak Chopra, and Lao Tzu, to name a few.
They say that to effort is to stay rigid, and to allow is to soften and let in. That we should take our energy from this desired thing and put focus on something else and our desires will manifest. We should put our faith in the Universe/God/Unseen to bring that which we wish to us. Trust in the unfolding, they say. We try too hard in situations that are not ours to control. We come up against a brick wall, and sometimes we need to take a step back and allow.
There is a certain logic to it, I will admit.
Why focus on what we can't change? Why exert energy on that which we can't control. And I mean there is very little we can control when it comes right down to it, so why obsess? But it's easier said than done. I mean as humans, we're here to desire, to want, to need, to dream. Everything that we experience here on this planet causes us expansion. Our desires propel that expansion forward. So if we're wanting to experience a better relationship, a new job or different living environment, telling someone not to think about it or get over it doesn't exactly feel great, or work for the most part.
The spiritual teachings try to make everything super simplistic. Just switch focus. Just let go. Just allow. Which is all easier said than done.
So what can we do?
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." - R. Niebuhr, The Serenity Prayer
The Wisdom to know the difference
Is this something that your effort can influence? For example, you should study for that test if you want to pass. You should put energy in if you want to deepen relationships and maintain connections. You should probably research that recipe to take to the potluck dinner. You should save some money if you want to go on that vacation. You should get that check engine light looked at if you want your car to keep working. You have control over the effort you exert in these scenarios, and lack of effort can and will hinder the result.
Is this something that has nothing to do with your energy or your effort? For example, you can't control the actions of others. You can't make someone love you or put effort into a relationship. You can't make someone choose you. You can't change the minds/hearts of others, so these can be situations where it is better to take a step back.
Accept the things you cannot change.
This is a tough one. Accepting what seems like defeat in the face of what we desire can be really hard. We can try to take solace in the old adage "what's meant to be will find a way", and believe that what is meant for us will come in another form. The bottom line is until we're ready to embody the truth that something isn't going to work out the way we want, there is little comfort we can find anywhere.
We can try to put our energy and attention into something else. I know, I know, that old chestnut. Seems simple, right? It's hard, I realize. But do anything; something fun or distracting that will take your mind of the thing. I like to work with my hands or do something active. I build furniture, create art, take photography, garden, do yoga, bake something, or take my dog for a walk. Get out of your mind for awhile and into your body. Take some time to heal from the un-manifested desire. It's not going to happen all at once, but little by little.
I'm the kind of person when if I'm done, I'm done. It takes me awhile to get there sometimes, but when I finally feel in my gut that something is pointless, I'm out. Oh, I've tried everything up to that point. But sometimes you have to throw in the towel and say to hell with it.
Maybe there's a sage wisdom in that; after trying every door just sitting there and throwing up your arms and saying ok, I did what I can now I'll slump into a pile on the floor, come what may. Maybe this is allowing, or my version of it.
The courage to change what I can
We're not here to live our lives defeated or to not manifest our desires. Our purpose on the planet is not to roll over and just accept mediocrity. We are here to have desires, work towards goals and experience great things. Don't give up on the dreams that burn in your soul. Put energy and effort into what you wish to manifest. Have courage and dare.