To change the path you are on requires a change in direction, and that means deciding where you want to go, and that means changing how you make choices. Things stay the same because you do not choose otherwise. Fear of making a wrong choice is often paralyzing. To make a choice, accept it, and move on requires that you first deal with the fear that has paralyzed you into inaction.
Wherever you are in life you can always be a little bit better. I help clients to become a little bit better, one moment at a time. When you are totally overwhelmed, it is usually because you are
trying to solve the world's problems all at once, and that is an impossible task. No one can do it.
Also, multitasking is overrated. You do better when you do only one thing, one moment at a time, one person at a time, and one second at a time.
When you lose sight of that, happiness seems so far away. Instead, you find yourself in a pit. And each time you get slammed with yet another challenge, it seems overwhelming. So, what is the solution? How do you change direction, improve focus, and make new challenges less overwhelming? How do you redirect a runaway train traveling in the wrong direction?
Put a full stop to the current chapter of your life
In the book of your life you face many challenges. Before you can start a new chapter, you must close the old chapter. In England, in the Queen’s English, the dot at the end of a sentence Is
called full stop. You must come to a full stop at this moment, wherever you are in your life, before you can write a new chapter. Many books also place a blank page at the end of a chapter to
more clearly transition to a new chapter.
At the risk of a mixed metaphor. NOW is the time to apply the train’s brakes; to apply a full stop to the end of the current chapter. Come to a complete Stop. Become aware of the blank page. Set a new course.
As you pause, consider how you want to write the next chapter of your life. You may not like the preceding chapters. Perhaps you did not write them, but allowed others to write them for you. Perhaps you have been unaware that you could participate in the writing. But now, in this moment, you place a full stop to all the previous chapters of your life, particularly those you do not like.
Gaze upon a fresh, blank page. Pause to redesign the next chapter toward a storyline that suits you better; that resonates with your wishes and desires. When you have that firmly in mind, start writing.
Until you write it down, it is not going to happen.
I give each of my clients a notebook. It is critical to the effectiveness of their therapy. To write, you must first think. Articulating an idea in words on the written page gives it form and
substance. Then, for ideas to gel even more, I recommend telling somebody. Once the idea has left your own mind and entered another person’s, there is a shared responsibility for persisting with
To start applying the brakes to the runaway train, take a moment and pull out a piece of paper. Write down three things in your life, up to this point, you want to get rid of. Three things in your life you do not like.
Rather difficult, isn’t it.
It is not uncommon that most people cannot identify specifically what is bugging them. It is like having an itch. You sense the need to scratch, though you don't know what is causing it.
The first step to change is awareness; becoming aware of what is not working right in your life. If you do not know what the problem is, how do you know what to do with it?
Because it is so hard to identify, when it eventually comes to light it is often a complete surprise. A client once claimed to have lost 200 pounds in my office. She weighed less than that to begin with; but in the course of her work with me she severed a toxic relationship. Only then did she begin to regain her health.
The difference between complex and complicated
Something that is complex has many components. The inside of a phone line, seemingly a random mesh of colored wires, is complex. Yet a technician finds meaning in the various colors. The
complexity is further contained within a sheath of plastic.
Now, if you were to knot up a bunch of wires, all of the same color, and glob over it with cement, with only a bit of the ends showing, that is complicated. I call that glob of cement Fear. In other words, Fear is a major complication in people’s lives.
In a divorce situation, you can choose for it to be complex or complicated. Virtually every divorce starts out complex. Fear creates complications.
To deal with complexity, you start with the yellow wire and attach it to a yellow wire. Things get complicated when it has become impossible to discriminate between the wires, and every attachment results in a bad connection.
To deal with the mere complexity of divorce, deal with one issue at a time and stay in the moment, focusing on present time, not the past. If consulting an attorney, ask “Of the things on the table, which is the most critical?” Deal with that first. Then go to the next most important thing. Handling one issue at a time reduces complexity, making an onerous task doable.
Divorce is complicated when Fear prevents prioritization, or issues become so intractably linked that every possible solution is perceived as a “bad connection.” Eliminating fear, then, is a necessary first step; which doesn’t remove the complexity, but at least gets you to a place where you can deal a single, doable, task at a time.
For pain, first check with a physician to determine if there is a physiological reason for physical pain. If it is complex, meaning the pain comes from different sources, you might ask the doctor, what is one thing we can do today to reduce the pain?
Fear leads to a one-dimensional life. Choice requires two dimensions
Emotions are how you feel. Technically speaking, you can only feel one emotion at a time. So there is only the emotion of the moment. Deal with it.
There are two emotions. Fear or love. If it doesn't feel good, it falls under fear. Ask yourself, what am I afraid of?
Every decision we make is a yes or a no. There is no maybe.
What makes life unbearable is when you do not know whether to say yes or no; or, you say yes and second-guess yourself; or you say no and regret what you may have passed it up.
When you say “I cannot afford,” that means you have resources but you are making choices where to allocate them. Hear it again, YOU HAVE CHOICE. What you may not like are the options. Both Option A and Option B may be undesirable; but, at the end of the day, you have to say yes to one, which makes it no for the other. Picking the less objectionable option does not make it a bad choice. It is what it is. Now, let it go and move to the next choice.
Second-guessing is fear. It paralyzes you.
Dealing with one issue at a time means you determine yes or no then proceed to the next decision, yes or no. Every choice is one thing at a time, selecting between two options. If there are consequences, use them to inform future choices. Rather than regretting having made a choice, accept that the choice was yours to make, you made it, and it will help you make better choices in the future.
People claim to be stuck. That's not true.
They just don't like their options. As long as you are breathing, you may not like the options, and indeed they may not be the best, but you have to begin by making a choice. That gets you closer to a better choice next time. But sitting on the fence, waiting for god-knows-what to happen, is not going to change anything. You have to do something for yourself. That means looking up resources, asking other people for help.
Asking for help is different asking for approval.
The need for approval arises when you do not trust yourself. When you trust yourself you can say, “If you like me, it's fine, I do not need to jump up and down. If you do not like me, I still do not jump up and down. Because whether you like me or not it does not change who I am. I know who I am.”
If you count one, two, three, four; every fourth person in the room is going to hate your guts no matter what you do; it’s just a part of life.
Sometimes you walk into a room full of fours. But even if that is the case, there are at least three other persons somewhere else who love you. You just have to go out and find them.
Misery loves company
If you find you have lived a whole life of drama and chaos, look around; all your friends also live in drama and chaos, because misery loves company. Step one, go find different friends. When
everyone wants to dump on you, you have no one to dump on.
Miss Faye was in her seventies. Everyone dumped on her. After a long session with me she went home and did not answer her phone. She was of the impression that everyone knew she was at home that day and wanted to dump on her. But I had told her, when she got home, the rest of the day was hers; mind your own business. Don't mind other people's business. You have enough on your own plate. You do not need somebody else dumping on you. You need to conserve your energy to solve your own problems.
You want to interact with people who can help you. The blind leading the blind goes nowhere. If you are blind, find someone who can see. Then together you can drive.
What do you attract into your life?
Chaos attracts chaos. When you have done it long enough, your brain adapts to it; but not in a positive way. When I work with people who have experienced abuse, they have an insistent need to be
close to the door; they cannot have their back to the door. Those are symptoms of a post traumatic brain.
A body that has been violated creates a warped sense of personal safety; never feeling safe with anyone. Energetically speaking, one’s primordial energy has been violated.
Living with a traumatized brain
Likewise, former soldiers will not sit in a restaurant with their back to the door. They want to be prepared to leave immediately, to be in control of their environment. The traumatized brain is
constantly on alert, ready to fight or run.
The part of the brain that allows feelings of joy and peace and happiness has atrophied, shrunk. A high-alert brain creates hyper-vigilance. Even after a positive life change to a place where calm and peace prevails, the high-alert brain doesn’t know what to do with it. So it constantly, subconsciously attracts chaos, the feeling it has become most accustomed to. In a perverse way, it makes your brain feel good; or at least predictable.
The ability to feel love has atrophied through disuse. That aspect of the brain no longer works as it should.
Fortunately, it is possible to rewire the brain.
The brain has the ability to rebuild. Brain plasticity is the hottest, newest neurological research. It is finding that the brain can regenerate itself. Imagine overcoming trauma; being able to enter a room and sit anywhere; retaining a sense of personal safety.