I’m a control freak. Actually, to be exact, what I believe is that if I don’t do it, it won’t get done. And so, when things matter to me my tendency is to stay obsessively on top of them.
Now, I know that doesn’t make way to harmonious relationships. When I obsess I make others retreat. So, where is the balance? How can I get the response I need in order to not climb into the rat wheel while giving others space?
By being specific and requesting a response. For example: I’m in a business relationship with someone who is not very communicative. I send emails and sometimes don’t hear back for four to five days.
On the first day without a response, I assume the other party is busy and I’ll hear back the following day. When the next day comes and I don’t hear anything, I start to get aggravated. By the third day I have already sent a follow up email and made a call. I also wake up in the middle of the night thinking of all the scenarios that could be going on – none of them very good. In essence my neurosis starts to take over.
Having gone through this many times in my life I have learned to do two things: 1 – breathe deeply and not lash out and 2 – ask a question that demands an answer.
Sounds simple no? Maybe, but it took me a long time to get here.
So, now when I send an email to someone who is not very good in communicating I ask them – in the body of the email – to let me know they have received the email sent. What this does is psychologically force a response – and that is all I need.
Why am I talking about this? Well, I was thinking about addiction before.
Addiction doesn’t relate only to drugs or alcohol. It also relates to behavior.
We’re beings of habit. Once, we do something a certain way a pattern gets formed. To break the pattern we need to use our intellect – to recognize it – and our free will; to change it.
What things in your life are giving you grief? Is the ill feeling coming from your response to something rather than the situation itself? If yes, you can change it by first recognizing the pattern than by re-educating your mind.
It won’t feel comfortable in the beginning because you will be fighting your habit or tendency. So, remember to be kind to yourself and know you have the ability to change any response system you have built. All you need is compassion and time.
“Do one thing every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Change is messy. Change is uncomfortable. But change is the only path to getting where we want to go.
Anyone over the age of thirty, know that as we get older we hold onto who we are and what we have with iron fists. We get settled in our ways and little by little we stop seeing different possibilities of being and living. The consequences of settling is that we stop learning and experiencing. Something inside us starts to feel bored and trapped. Sameness takes over.
The first step of change is to give voice to the restlessness. What is it that of lack of satisfaction I’m feeling is trying to tell me? What in my life needs to change?
This is a period of introspection. We must give it room and time. The answer lies in our ability to stay with the search. To peel away the layers of chaos and find the clear need within ourselves. It is there just waiting to be discovered.
One we know what needs to be change we need to commit to this even more uncomfortable phase. We are people of habits and there is nothing more unsettling than responding to life in a different way. We feel as if we no longer have our baring.
It will be difficult at first. We will fall back into old habits. We will be anxious over responding differently. But, with restrain, thoughtfulness and determination we can succeed.
Change gets us to see the world in a different way. Change gets us to gain greater wisdom. Change makes life more exciting and interesting.
Expose yourself to different experiences. Have the courage to try something outside your comfort zone. Be flexible. Breathe.
And as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -Andre Gide
One of the definitions in Merriam-Webster dictionary for change is: “to make a shift from one to another.” In psychological terms that is what change means; at the start we are A and when we are done we are Z.
Now, along the way we have to go through the entire alphabet and that is most often extremely chaotic. The reason is simple. We are comfortable being A. We know how to respond to people and things. When we do get to Z, we will also be okay. Again we will be comfortable being Z and we’ll know how to think and respond.
The problem with changing is all the uncertainty and uneasiness one needs to go through between being A and being Z. The journey is the process of breaking down a way of being in life while building a new one.
It is common, while going through the process of changing, to doubt ourselves and where we are going. It is easy to feel oneself lost in the chaos.
Change usually starts from an intellectual need. We realize something about us or our lives needs to be different. Then intellectually we draft a course of action. Thoughts like: “I’m going to do this from now on in an XYZ way” or “I’m going to feel about this from now on in this new XYZ manner” decorate our planning.
This process of intellectually mapping out our destination is correct. We need to know where we want to get to. But chaos starts during the second phase when our psychology and feelings get actively involved in the process. Now, we are dealing in new territory where every different sensation is a bridge to many other feelings and history.
What is guilt?
Webster defines it as “the fact or state of having committed an offense, or wrong against moral or penal law.”
Guilt is a consequence of us sometimes having done something that on the surface seems wrong. It is also a consequence of others wanting us to feel responsible for a situation – rightfully or not.
Let’s think about the first type of guilt; the one which comes as a consequence of us actually having not acted properly.
Here’s an example: a friend of mine got a visit from an out of state and close friend of hers.
The road between the intellect and the heart when it comes to changes is a long winding road full of stops and alternate routes.
Yes, the first step is realizing we should change from being A to being B. Second step is believing we have already changed from A to B. Third step is the challenge. This is when a situation will occur to test us in our resolution to change. The greater the change the greater the challenge. This is when we doubt if we are going down the right path because we feel uncomfortable, uncertain, and insecure, and all hell seems to be breaking lose. But here is where we need to dig deep and reconnect with the truth that got us to think and act in a different way in the first place. Once we do that, we have our footing.
For the last couple of weeks the topic “we are who we are” has been very much on my mind. Using myself as the basis for my thinking I wondered how many of the changes that have taken place in my process and behavior belong to age and how many to an investment in my own development. Followed by the question am I still the same girl who grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil just older and wiser?
Here is a hard one to learn; we can’t change others but we can change ourselves. Why do I say it is hard? Because we are so attached to proving our truth, intent and fairness are right that we keep coming up with new ways to express them. And every attempt only brings us frustration and disappointments.
There is nothing wrong with trying to communicate our thoughts and feelings but what becomes a waste is when it is obvious that the recipient is not ready or doesn’t want to see things in a different way. No matter how many alternatives you present for a different type of interpretation or relationship, you are not heard. The other is stuck in their position and methodology and is not going to change no matter what we do.
Compassion doesn’t only mean stopping wars, feeding the hungry or ending the AIDS crisis. Compassion in its most simple form is our human ability of for a moment being able to step into someone else’s shoes and understand their dilemma.
In 2007, when I first walked into the infusion center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center with my late husband, I was taken by fear. I looked around to the 30 – 40 people there all hooked up to a bag containing chemicals strong enough that signs were posted in the bathrooms asking patients to flush twice. Chris and I looked for two seats together and waited for a nurse to come and hook him up as well.
Immersed in my pain, I turned my face away from Chris because of the tears running down my face. I didn’t want him to see them. A woman sitting next to a man getting his infusion got up, picked up a tissue and without saying a word handed it to me.
I really like this post by Jeffrey Hull on the Huffington Post. Jeffrey is a writer and a psychologist and in this particular post he gives specific advice in how to change our lives when we find ourselves in a rut.
As we are creatures of habit we tend to turn everything in our lives into a routine. Regardless of how interesting an activity is, if we repeat it every day in the same fashion, it will soon lose its spark.
In order to keep our lives fresh we must first be in touch with ourselves. We need to have the relationship with us that lets us know the sadness or lack of inspiration are coming from a life being lived in the same fashion on a daily basis.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi
I’m finishing a book “Paint It Black” by my friend Janet Fitch, who is also the writer of “White Oleander”. The book tells the story of the aftermath of a young woman, Josie Tyrell, whose boyfriend, Michael Farraday commits suicide. We never “meet” Michael alive. Our knowledge of him is through Josie’s memories of the world they shared. And it is this world I want to discuss.
Janet Fitch describes in details the love-making, dreams and fantasies Josie and Michael shared. The time they gave to one another and their excitement in discovering things together. In the fantasy world they created they experienced trips, meetings and situations without ever leaving their small house in Echo Park, Los Angeles.
We also learn Michael was the type of person who saw the beauty in everything and stopped the world to appreciate.
As I read their story, I am reminded of how much we short change ourselves when it comes to love.