“All that you need to have all that you want, Scott, will be provided, as if by magic, once you know what you want and do something about it every day. No matter what. “ [The Universe.]
Monday, June 13, 2011
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” -Havelock Ellis
I hate making big decisions – or, more accurately – I hate the process that is required of me before I make a big decision. I don't mean to friend or not to friend on Facebook. Or chicken versus steak for dinner. I mean a decision involving relationships, work, housing, car purchases. What’s the bottom line? I’m a chicken when it comes to letting go of something familiar (even if it’s unsatisfying, uncomfortable or unproductive) to open the way for the unknown.
I’m thinking I’m not alone in this.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m GREAT at decisions when it comes to other people. I can quickly tell you, “Hey…that’s a no-win situation, or a deal-breaker…” or "Yep, here's what I think you should do..." and mean every word of it. After all, I do life coaching and people expect me to have at least some of the answers. (Yes, I believe that transpersonal coaching is more about questions than answers but play along here for a bit, ok?)
So, making tough decisions that don’t actually involve my personal butt in a position of risk? No problem. Decisions that do? Whoa…not so easy.
This isn’t easy to admit, but sometimes in order to make a decision involving change, I have to back myself into a corner. I think more than once in my life when I needed or wanted to make more money, instead of just taking the steps to create more income (by adjusting my work, asking for more wages, finding something else to do – or moving to a different avenue altogether) – I upped my expenses (usually by purchasing a more expensive car) thus requiring me to make more money, and providing the motivation for doing whatever needed to be done to generate more income.
So, whatever I bought became not a reward for doing well, but a motivation to keep doing well or, even more dysfunctional – an impetus to try and do well. Talk about creating artificial stress. Have to keep up the payments because credit is important to me (or more honestly, being liked by whoever my creditors are is important to me, the score itself has never mattered that much). Sounds weird even writing about it.
So a few years back when I had a financial meltdown due to this (I’m using the highly technical psychological term I learned for this mindset here) stupid strategy, I vowed to change. Like so many of our deeply ingrained coping mechanisms, it’s easier said than done.
Like so many quirky personality traits, I’ve seen this trait manifest itself in a variety of ways in my life. In relationships where I’ll stick around a lot longer than I know is healthy (for either of us) because I think that just someday around the corner, the subject of my unbridled kindness, compassion, awareness and solicitude will wake up and realize how much I care. (OK – it could happen).
I don’t immediately realize that if I let go, and let them learn whatever they need to learn, that it’s very possible that they may come closer to an awakening experience – but that awakening experience certainly won’t happen while I’m busy cheerleading (and not genuinely meaning it), fixing things – or generally impeding their ability to accept and deal with consequences of their crappy choices.
That kind of enabling isn’t what love is. It’s dependency making.
I’ve seen this trait in finances – as outlined before, where I’ll max out what I can possibly afford – recognizing that my OCD about paying bills will be the motivational push I need to move to the next level. Sometimes that works for a while, until the stress kicks in. Or, as my way-totally cool Mercedes Service Advisor Syd puts it – “you probably can afford the car, but you can’t afford the maintenance.” True on so many levels.
And work – hired to do one thing that morphs and evolves into something so dramatically different as to be unrecognizable from the original job. All because I don’t want to let go. Because I value the safety of a paycheck.
I think the essence of this is recognizing the difference between letting go of the dream, and letting go of my attaching to a particular outcome around the dream. I can still dream the highest good for the people I love, and even include myself in that highest good in some respect, but what comes down to being most effective is letting go of my ideas of what a specific result or outcome of that dream will be. Instead of the mantra, “I want this” – expanding that to “I want this or something better…”
Like anything, I believe strongly that we have to start with a baseline. We have to have an idea of what we want and put it out there. My highest and best would be teaching classes and facilitating groups, mostly for people who have been in prisons, jails, (either real ones or mental ones – I’m OK either way) or dealing with addiction issues. I believe that was what I was called to do. The ultimate reason I was created and gifted with the eclectic composite of experiences I call my life. Do I do it? Ummm… a little. What keeps me from moving fully in the direction of what I really love?
Fear. Not fear of rejection, or not doing a good job (I’m an awesome speaker and facilitator – and put me in front of a crowd and I shine). It's fear of letting go of the familiar and moving towards the unfamiliar.
Ultimately those are the handcuffs that connect me most tightly to my felon friends. I’m inclined to stay safe, even if safe is a long way away from satisfying. I have enough psychological education to outline, perhaps in four or five different systems, the multitude of dynamics that has created this particular personality structure in myself. Knowing about something doesn’t change it.
Everyone knows smoking is bad for you. Or salt. Or saturated fat. Or a lifetime of criminal behavior. Does that change anything? Sadly, too often not. But once you have the awareness you have something else the awareness gifts you with - choices.
So, once again I find myself asking “What would I do differently today if I wasn’t afraid?” What decisions would I make? How would my time be structured differently? Who would I call today to set another future in motion if I had no fear?
All I can do in this is learn to more carefully listen to my heart, my body (major disconnect there) – and perhaps that strange voice of “circumstances” that seems to surround every major decision – like this morning’s note from the Universe, delivered by email.