I’ve got the sweetest pair of summer sandals, strappy and black, a classy landing for any set of toes or heels headed for a crossroad, contemplating change — such perfect support for standing still or moving forward, wandering or making a beeline, walking confidently into a new life.
Shall we, for a moment, consider this amazing “little black sandal” flexibility?
The brilliance of these beauties is their dance of versatility. A morning walk through bright lilies, say, followed by a deliciously dark silk evening.
You’re changing again? Oh, thank you, these little shoes say, with a deep welcome.
We’re sailing along in life, and BAM! Suddenly, we’re off the tracks. Whoa! It’s messy. There are consequences. Temporarily, we’re a little worse for the wear and maybe others are, too.
My life is falling to pieces.
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
I had a relationship (or fill-in-the-blank) and now I don’t.
Derailing or hitting the wall means we’ve come to the end of something and the beginning of something else. We’ve produced a result that brings how we usually do things front and center. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at what brought us to this point. Being “up against it” gives us a chance to take a look at our default modes — how we usually respond, what we usually do or say, think, or feel. How do we typically show up in life?
Coming to a fast stop is almost never pretty. There is the matter of collateral damage. And it’s hard on the contents of the plane, train, automobile or person. Life as we know it comes to a screeching halt.
The good news? Being off the track or brought to our knees is (yes, always) helpful. Revealing. Life-changing.
If I don’t know that I’m on a track that’s taking me to where I don’t really want to go, then stopping my speedy, run-away train is a really good thing.
This idea of being brought to our knees, or hitting the wall, or derailing might happen around health issues. Let’s say I’m rolling along, and BAM! I’ve got the flu. It’s miserable, I’m in bed, can’t move, everything hurts, can’t open my eyes, can’t sleep, can’t eat.
When this happens, I’ve got to re-arrange my life. All those important and unchangeable meetings, appointments or activities — yes, they change. They yield.
Or I’m sailing along and suddenly a major health issue (way more than the flu) appears on my horizon. It’s a shock and I don’t like it, but here it is. I’ve got to figure out how to include it, improve it, deal with it.
In any of these situations, there is a moment of reckoning — a re-evaluation, a shift. “Wow. I thought I was perfectly healthy….”This happens in relationships, too. Things are moving along as they always do, and then one partner drops a bombshell.
“I’m leaving you.”
“I’ve decided I need time alone to figure things out. Let’s take a 3 month break from each other. I’ll set you up in an apartment.”
“I need to be alone, so why don’t you take a long trip and have some much needed time for yourself as well? It would be good for both of us.”
“This isn’t working. It hasn’t been working for a long time. I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”
Yep. Change is Messy.
What To Do About The Mess?
1. Do whatever gives you relief, even it it means that you pretend the disaster or impending disaster is not happening.
Go ahead — practice denial. I’m perfectly serious about this. (Don’t tell your therapist I said that. But hang in there. Read on….)
Here’s the general idea — take your attention off the issue. For now, operate as if there has been no change, no derailment, no bad news. This will give you some relief. And to move anywhere you really want to go, relief is what you need.
And when you’re relieved, it’s easier to breathe. And breathing keeps you alive. Breathing is good.
Relief helps everything, anything, every time. Personal practices that melt difficulties enough to get things moving in a positive direction:
Do less, BE more
Give yourself a break
Put down the sledge hammer
Take your critical foot off the gas
Take yourself off the hook
Heck, take everybody off the hook
Be nicer to yourself in every way possible.
I pinky promise. I know this for sure.
2. Suspend conclusions.
You’re sick, but truth-be-told, you really have no idea why, even if the doctor told you. Your partner has walked out on you, but you really don’t know the whole story, even if they gave you reasons. Your company is reorganizing, and won’t be needing your services. You have no idea, really, what’s in store for you, even if it was all written in a company memo.
In the middle of the panic, the fear, the “what am I going to do about this” it’s nigh on impossible to see the big picture. Don’t expect yourself to see it. Let alone embrace it! It’s not your job in this moment. Meanwhile, throw those emerging and possibly persistent (negative) conclusions in the trash. Immediately.
Coming to negative or limiting conclusions sends you into what I call “future ugly” so why not stay here in this moment, and put pretty little wings on the nasty negative conclusions and tell them to fly, fly away. The mind will give you a hassle about this, but be patient. Just keep throwing conclusions about how this happened, what you shoulda done, coulda done, or what this all means about your current or future life directly in the trash.
It’s also OK to let yourself sit in “I don’t know…” or “I’m taking one day at a time…” It’s OK not to talk to people about it. It’s OK to let the whole thing sit. Keep discarding whatever helps you navigate toward neutral.
3. Pay attention to your positive and negative emotions. They are your helpers, your guides, your north stars.
In a nutshell, if you have negative emotion, think of it as a signal that you’re thinking in a way that’s not going to help you. Just say “oops” and re-calculate. Your navigator does it all the time. You can, too. Your emotions will give you turn by turn guidance.
If you are now thinking in a way that causes you pain, you’re creating a future you probably don’t really want. Your next now is built on this one.
On the other hand, being more easy-going or looking for the bright side will help you create a future you prefer. Use negative emotion to remind yourself that you have the option to turn in a different direction that will contribute to your well-being.
Your thought patterns create momentum. Is the momentum in the direction you want to go?
4. Think: What if nothing is wrong. Not Now. Not Ever.
Nice thought if you can think it, right?
That’s what the Dali Lama thinks. Someone asked him about his secret to enlightenment, and being so happy, and he said something to the effect that “Everything is always alright with me.”
I often say to myself, “What if this is crazy turn of events is actually here to help me?” Or “This is probably helping me, I just can’t see it yet.”
In other words, what if this problem is here simply to help us clarify?
5. Think of the crash as a reminder that a personal software upgrade is in order.
A crash is helping you crash and burn the old programs so you can create, invite, or find new programs that work better
There. I said it. And so eloquently, too, huh?
About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant. I love really good food, good friends, good relationships!
A couple moves through spaces, stages, and ups and downs while growing. Some stages feel great. You feel hopeful and positive, and it’s clear you’re making progress.Other relationship growth stages are not so pretty. Not so great looking. Things are falling apart. Undoing. Stretching at the seams. Unraveling. There is pressure, separation, breaking, opening.
Just think about flowers. They look so many different ways while they are growing. And this is encouraging: flowers spend a lot of time without a beautiful blossom.
Remember that a blossom was once closed tight, like a heart or a mind. Both are beautiful when they blossom.
Another way to look at the relationship healing process? It’s similar to healing from surgery or an illness. Not all days feel like progress.
Some days, a wound itches. Some days it hurts. Some days the dressing needs to be changed. You clean it up, put on a new band-aid, and wait patiently.
On other healing days, you want to throw in the towel. Watch TV until you feel better. Get out of town. Ride a bucking bronco, go dancing, or play a wild game of tennis just to let it all out. Whatever.
Let your relationship healing process move to and fro. That’s what it’s going to do anyway.
Sometimes, it’s two steps forward, one step back.
It’s a dance.
Don’t let all the movement confuse you, discourage you, or cause you to feel invalidated.
As your relationship moves through changes, do your best not to come to conclusions. Hold pretty much everything that’s going on in suspension. Just observe. Notice.It’s important to know this ahead of time so that you don’t get discouraged or feel like you’re off track. If you know this is bound to happen, you can remind yourself in the middle of it, “Oh, I remember I’m supposed to expect this fluctuation. This is normal. This is natural.”
That way, you don’t get jerked around by the process.
For instance, it’s easy to think, “Wow, we’re in love again! How nice is that!!!” Or “I really can’t stand what’s going on right now. I want out. This is never going to change.”Or “I’ve had it, that’s it. Can’t deal with this anymore. We’re done. It’s over.”
Hang in there. You’ll go through many changes, big and small. It’s OK. It’s natural. It’s what will happen.
And the good new is, you’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be.
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Terri Crosby is a relationship mentor. She helps you create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love. Terri offers change-of-heart, change-of-mind perspectives to create GREAT relationships. If you are ready to take your relationship to the next level, you can sign up to be on her mailing list here. You can also subscribe to this blog and receive the weekly post.
Everyone in every relationship is good at producing results.
No question about it.
The thing is, do you like the results you produce?
Are you happy? Having a good time?
Are things going smoothly in your relationship?
Do you understand each other? When you are at odds, do you know how to recover?
Do you trust that together, things turn out better than either one of you could have imagined or planned on your own?
CRASH. BANG. BOOM.
In a session with a couple recently, I was working with a woman who had pretty much hit bottom.
It’s that moment of reckoning when you see and finally face the results you’ve produced in your relationship and you don’t like it at all.
She sobbed. She was horrified. She said she felt nauseous.
Her husband looked on with full attention and complete compassion. He didn’t say a word for a very long time. He was a supportive presence and that was huge. It was what was needed.
I have to admit that part of me had been shielding my eyes and covering my ears in anticipation of the inevitable cr-aaaa-sssssshhhhh, sort of like what they say about the big California earthquake — it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN.
And the other part of me was was cheering her on. It seemed that she was headed for a peak experience of some kind, so I might as well help her go for it.
Well, true to her adventurous spirit, she went for it.
When she managed to bring everything to a grand crescendo, her world came crashing down around her in the space of one evening and the next morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so awful.
In our session, after venting for about 20 minutes, she finally came to a standstill. She became more quiet and contemplative. I could tell she was beginning to look around the debris field to survey the damage.
I told her it’s a most beautiful place to HAVE ARRIVED because you can actually see and experience what you’ve created for yourself — and — the really, really good news — from HERE, you can even see how you did it.
It’s not pretty, but it’s revealing as heck.
THE BIG REVEAL
So she looked around, down there in the bottom of her barrel of unhappiness and dissatisfaction and grief. She investigated, she groped, she picked up what was there and bravely took a look at each thing, one by one, just long enough to see what was there in her hands.
Even in the despairingly dim light of yuck-and-OMG, she saw things with more crystal clarity than ever, and began the process of understanding the implications of what she had created.
Pretty good stuff, I’d say.
What did she see?
Well, she saw results you get when you compare yourself to others, judge yourself or take an unfair measuring stick to every. single. thing. you. do.
It’s a hard way to go. But I have to hand it to her — she did it REALLY WELL. She was consistent.
In the process, however, she managed to make herself miserable and (sometimes, well, often…) her hardy (thank goodness) husband.
AND THE MEASURING STICK SAYS…
She could see the effects of her measuring stick:
Oh, it’s not that he is not including me, it’s not that he is shutting me out, I’m actually doing this to myself. I see it! Whoa. And then I’m pointing the finger, blaming him. Wow.
When I’m jealous, I’ve judge myself as “less than.” And then I don’t participate. I kick my own darn self out of the game. Geesh.
And when I think everyone else is more successful, smarter, more accomplished than me, I set myself apart. I dub myself as different, and then I complain about it. I get it. Wow.
I act as if “it’s all about me” and I’m the center of the Universe. That’s really boring and exclusive and nobody wants to play with me. ‘Cause it’s all about me and not about them (that’s not fun for them.) Then I say, “see they don’t like me.” I separated myself from others yet again. Wow, I’m pretty good at this.
And when he’s having fun with other people, and I’m not having fun (on my own or with other people,) and I complain about it… yeah, yeah, I see what I’m doing… I’m separating myself from others and accusing others of shutting me out or not liking me. I’m doing it to myself. Yep, I get it. Well, hall-le-friggin-lu-yah! Wow!
By the way, we say “Wow” often in my consulting sessions! It’s a word that can express amazement instead of self-criticism. “Wow” has a celebratory, thumbs-up kind of tone to it. We like that word around here.
And she continued with gusto, with many examples of what she could see from this new view from the bottom of the barrel. Oh say can you see! By the dawn’s early light!
We spoke about the perfection of her crash — what brought her to that point and how she had orchestrated it all so perfectly. We talked about the results she had produced, the damage, and the utter unworkability of playing small and being self-critical.
And then she started to laugh… and laugh… at the absurdity of it all!
I love when that happens!
So she saw that if she could create THAT mess so perfectly, she could create something else with equal precision, but maybe WAY more fun.
And her blessed husband reached over, took her hand and said, “I love you. You teach me things I never knew I needed to know.”
And he went happily off to work.
And she took out a kleenex, laid it over her face and fell back in her chair and giggled. She was all tuckered out. And in this case, that was a very good thing.
Ahhh… now that’s better!
Today, I’m sharing a story about how I accidentally accomplished something on my bucket list. I ran through an exit gate while looking the other way. The hood of my car is scratched up, and one windshield wiper is a mess, but let’s have a good laugh about how we never expect what “getting what we want” includes!
It seems to be a growing fad these days to call someone a narcissist, or declare they are toxic.
Political name-calling is similar—we assign politicians and voters to categories, and brush them off as if they are unintelligent, inferior, or even worthless.
By labeling others, we miss their humanity. We gloss over their struggle, their best effort at dealing with life. We dismiss them.
We do to them what we believe they are doing to others.
Look past a label, and in the soft light of day, there stands a person like you or like me, coping as best they can. At the end of the day, no friend, parent, or lover making conscious choices intends to be mean, or to ignore, or to embellish. There is always more to the story.
If we label others, then for sure we label ourselves. We trap ourselves into believing we are less than. Or not enough. Or we don’t give ourselves the time and forgiveness to work through our “stuff.” Maybe, if we stopped accusing others of narcissism, we could forgive ourselves for those moments when we were narrow-minded, inconsiderate, or afraid.
When it comes to labels, nobody wins.
So, my dear people, I suggest we peer a little deeper into ourselves to investigate a need to separate ourselves from others by tacking them with a label filled with disdain or scorn.
It is my wish that you view this video and take it to heart.