This past few weeks have been ones of unusually high stressful situations with several fires needing to be stomped out on a daily basis. A number of commitments have managed to conspire to all come due at the same time. Writing commitments, long ago scheduled lectures, a major workshop for practicing therapists, and personal responsibilities are all competing for the very limited resources of my time. It seems as if I take the time to concentrate on stomping out one fire, that gives several other situations the time either ignite or fan the already smoldering embers. I LOVE it!
As I have repeatedly stated in this and previous versions of my blog, life happens, sometimes because of the choices we make or simply because the Universe has a perversely ironic sense of humor and will give us an completely unexpected version of something we hoped for. In fact, a quote from the ancient Greeks has been playing in my mind over and over, “When the gods want to punish a man, they answer his prayers.” Be careful what you ask for.
Now let me share a secret with you. In spite of being a therapist and having thousands of hours of training and experience behind me; in spite of being a nearly life-long practitioner of Zen; and in spite of having a network of others who love and support me unconditionally, the situations in which I currently find myself…SUCK! They’re hard, messy, time consuming and emotionally draining. I wouldn’t have it any other way. In short, I currently find myself in a situation that would make a great many of my clients, as well as colleagues, throw up their hands and wallow in a puddle of self-pity. I too, started to succumb to that temptation to just lay down, cover my head and hope the storm didn’t bite me on the rear end as it passed.
Then I remember what I tell my most troubled clients, “Ok, you think your life sucks right now, but 1. It beats the immediate alternative, and 2. Regardless of what is happening around you, you are still here to carp about it…you made it this far, what is going to prevent you from continuing on and handling the situation head-on?
The answers I get vary depending on the situation, or person, but it usually comes down to, “Why does it have to be so hard” and “What if I fail?”
My answer invariably starts out with me pointing out that it can’t be that dire, otherwise they wouldn’t have made it into my office. Also, I ask them to take a good, long, hard look at their lives up to that point. I ask them to remember the hard times they have had before and compare the person they were going into that situation with the person who now sits in my office. It may take a little more prompting, but I usually get a flicker of understanding in their eyes.
Either by chance, or our own actions, regardless of how crappy a hand you were dealt, you still get to play your own cards. I tell them to remember all the disappointing and potentially soul-crushing events in their past life, I ask them to really feel what they went through and then to explain to me how it is that they survived to be sitting in my office. Most importantly, I ask them to tell me what they did to survive and how they have changed from the experience. If I stick with it long enough and don’t let the other person off the ‘hook’ without exception, the client agrees that they learned from and are stronger and better equipped to deal with new situations and often, the result was much different and better than they could have expected.
Here’s my point, life is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re here to keep putting one foot in front of the other and propel ourselves forward. We’re going to encounter blocks and barriers on the journey, it then is up to us to decide if we’re just going to plant our butts in front of the barrier and bemoan our fate, or figure out way to go around, over, under or through the obstacle to what’s on the other side; (well, there is one other possible solution, but it involves the judicious application of alcohol, duct tape and explosives, so I don’t recommend it one to my clients).
“Anon”, one of my favorite and most prolific authors, once said, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was going to end… it became a butterfly.”
So my question for today is, are you going to hide in your cocoon or are you going to take the chance and grow a pair of…wings? After all,
The Choice is Always Yours