Posts Tagged ‘re-boot’

Some Days Are Harder Than Others

August 27, 2013

We all have days where we feel tired and discouraged. Today happens to be one of those days for me. As a Re-booter and the author of this blog, I feel it’s my responsibility to focus on the positive, to rally, to strive for endurance. As a normal person, I feel plain tired, beat up, fed up, and not particularly enthusiastic about anything.

 

When was the last time you’ve felt something similar?

 

By my count, there are a great number of people who’d answer, “Right now,” “Yesterday,” or “Who cares because there’s no sign of anything changing in the foreseeable future.”

 

In Tom Petty’s hit song Here Comes My Girl, he writes,

 

You know sometimes, I don’t know why,

But this old town seems so hopeless.

Yeah, I ain’t really sure, but it seems I remember the good times

Were just a little bit more in focus….

Every now and then I get down to the end of the day

And I have to stop and ask myself why I’ve done it.

It just seems so useless to have to work so hard

And nothin’ ever really seems to come from it.”

 

I hear ya, Tom.

 

I’ll get to the re-booting portion of our show later on, but for now, I want to focus on acknowledging just how hard and how futile our lives can seem. Not all of it; not 100%, but enough to make us wonder why we bother.

 

As Exhibit A, I will confess that the endless, soul crushing effort of seeking out employment, lo these many months and months and months, with barely an acknowledgement let alone an expression of interest from anyone has thoroughly disheartened me. I came this close to finally landing a job awhile back—after three months, 6 rounds, 9 interviewers, and 11 separate conversations—only to lose out to the guy they’d worked with before. When it came down to it, I was the bigger risk. Counterbalance this colossal endeavor with discovering that my struggles have been a source of gossip and entertainment for someone I know and, well, it doesn’t help that despite assiduously dieting the past two weeks, the scale shows no movement.

 

As Exhibit B, I can cite myriad examples of chronic, low to medium grade conditions of hostility between people—situations where the financial arrangements are irrevocably entangled; or where one member is so alienated, hostile, or holds such fixed ideas that talking is a no-go; or, perhaps, a health condition makes it impossible to exit stage left. In other words, complicated situations that are extremely difficult to address, repair, or resolve.

 

I hope your struggles are not quite so miserable/life-choices-questioned/despair inducing as mine feel to me, but I am sympathetic to the fact that, whatever your predicaments are, they engender despondency in you. (For the record, I acknowledge, too, that everything we are wrestling with pales in comparison to the suffering and atrocities going on in Syria and other war torn locales, but our personal suffering is a valid concern and a priority for each of us.) So, what are we gonna do to pull ourselves out of it? You and me: we’re in this together.

 

Well, to begin with, I gave myself the day off—instead of adhering to my lockstep schedule, I lay in bed, trying to cajole my way out of a full fledged bout of depression. I carved out some time alone. And, I made the disciplined decision not to throw a giant pity party (as tempting as it is) because it gets me nowhere I want to go. As Re-booters, we’ve seen enough to know that self-pity is unproductive and only makes things harder on us and those we care about. I try not to complain to those close to me because I know they’re struggling, too. My problems are for me to solve—even when the other person refuses to change. I am grateful for the support and help that others want to give, and accept the kindnesses offered, but there’s only so much anyone else can do.

 

Contrary to much of what is broadcast on tv, we aren’t here to “have fun.” There is no guarantee that things will work out the way we hope, regardless of the effort we’ve expended. But, what we Re-booters can do is try our best to live serenely with the hand we’ve been dealt.

 

This may not be a very satisfactory conclusion to this post, but it’s the only one I’ve got. In the meantime, I’m going to pull myself out of this funk, get back on that treadmill, and listen to Tom sing his songs of wistful woe.

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Short term Tools and Long term Lodestars

May 23, 2013

So, my most recent post tackled the topic of recognizing that some of our progress we can only see over the long term. Today, I’ve decided to write about some of the specific measures we might use to assess our headway on matters not easily measureable.

 

As I’ve revealed in previous posts, I am a big fan of baby steps. Most of our growth occurs in fractions, but it is perceptible. And, if you’re anything like me, you have a personal radar that is continually scanning for performance indicators. How am I doing? What are they doing better? What did I do wrong or poorly? How might I improve my execution or results? What did they miscalculate that sent them careening into disaster and how might I avert this fate? That sort of scanning, those types of questions.  It’s usually a lot easier to assess other people’s problems and progress than it is to evaluate our own, but here are some fairly reliable indicators when we’re just not sure if we’re on the right track:

 

  1. Am I better at letting things roll off my back? Do I forget about irritations more promptly?
  2. Am I calmer about whatever it is? Does it take more to get me rattled?
  3. How easily can I laugh about this? Do I have better strategies for maintaining perspective?
  4. How secure do I feel in myself and my abilities, regardless of what happens?
  5. What can I feel grateful for? What blessings do I have right now?

 

These are big questions, best answered only by ourselves. But what they make possible is a more accurate gauge of where we are in the moment—short term assessments when we’re not in a position to employ longer term evaluation. What I mean by this is that sometimes, we find ourselves caught in an immediate, personal crisis where how we think about things and what we do today matters.

 

When I was in the thick of one such crisis, I couldn’t answer affirmatively to most of the above listed questions. It was terrible and I was at a real low point in my life. But, I was aware of these questions and used my desire to do whatever necessary in order to get to that place where I could answer “yes,” guide me through the thick of my confusion. I knew that, in theory, I believed in myself. I recognized that, in time, this crisis would pass and I would feel more calm about it. I trusted that, at some point in the not too distant future, I might even be able to let it go and no longer bother me. But this was much further down the road than where I was.

 

So, you know what I did? I faked it. Although I didn’t feel calm, I did my best to pretend I was cool and collected. My mantra was Fake It ‘Til You Make It. Inside, my agitation knew no bounds, and it was really hard to feel grateful for anything. I wasn’t sure just how much I believed in myself. And it was going to be a very, very long time before I could crack a smile, let alone laugh about anything related to this crisis. So, I did what I could: I faked it. I acted as if I could say yes to each of those questions. I searched out a (temporary) perspective that would be what I thought would get me to a place where I actually believed what I said. Faking may not be real, but the purpose it served was to provide a bridge to that place I so desperately needed to go.

 

And, you know what? I got there.

 

When everything was falling apart for me, I couldn’t see how in the world I was going to get through it. I was scared. I was angry. I couldn’t believe that all my assumptions had been wrong. And, I had no idea what to do. None. At that moment in my life, it was literally impossible for me to assess my long term progress or prospects; I was just trying to make it through the day. So I measured my improvement in baby steps. In fact, I made the conscious decision not to look at anything beyond the immediate day in front of me. It was the only way I could manage lest I shut down from overwhelm. The thing about this sort of faking is that, eventually, you’re not faking anymore. You are cool. You are calm. You do have confidence. And you are excited about what comes next.

 

What about you? When confronted with a crisis, how have you coped? As a re-booter, what beliefs and understandings do you have now that might help you manage a crisis to come? There are times in our lives when we are too besieged to look long term. This is when we need short term tools and long term lodestars that can get us from where we are to where we want to be. I’d love to hear what strategies you have used because mine aren’t the only ones out there. 

The Geshtalt for “Get Over It”

April 11, 2013

This being Washington DC, a leading generator of acronyms and aphorisms, many of its most infamous citizens are irresistibly drawn to language—too much language, ponderous, heavy language, the origin of much verbal dehydration. And, for this predilection, the city is a deserved recipient of much ridicule. Washington is also the city of Big Concepts—and rightly, so, if a nation’s capital is worth its salt—however, such grand visions for society rarely lend themselves to credible condensations.

But, sometimes, verbal shorthands for widespread problems or aggravations are entertainingly effective. I plead guilty to being one of a long line of wordy woodpeckers and take a certain amount of pride on cribbing off the efforts of others. Case in point: a well known political movement’s name can be employed handily when you want the conversation to end. An off hand muttering of, “MoveOn.org” and they’ll get the point. Ok, well, maybe being so blunt isn’t the best course, but at least you can think it to yourself and generate a certain amount of levity.

Or, if someone is whining about their favorite grievance, you might consider, “GrowUp.gov.” See how easy this is? In one fell url, you can encapsulate the entire geshtalt of “problem-diagnosis-solution.” Handy, ain’t it? This is Green Word Economy at its best. Recycle, reuse, repurpose. Re-boot, don’t forget about re-boot.

Our world has picked up the pace, so, unless you start your own blog with which to soapbox, most of us have less time to listen to someone’s issues, let alone blather on about our own. Imagine how much more efficient conversations can be if we employ one of these responses! Not only will you be honestly and accurately encapsulating an entire line of complex thought, but you will displease your audience enough that they will no longer burden you with their problems! Now that’s a win-win in my book.

This approach applies equally to whatever each of us is carping on about. All too often, people have particular issues that they just can’t see past, despite the fact that they are making a bad thing worse by focusing so much energy on it! The beauty of MoveOn.Org or GrowUp.gov as a response is that it gives a Washington-edged ring to a remedy for such ailments. Whatever you exercise grows stronger, so if you complain a lot, it just makes it worse. Re-booters know this.

While this post is written tongue in cheek, I do find that calling upon a humorous (silent) response to aggravations can be enormously effective when we get stressed. The definition of being a good spouse or friend or relative or colleague usually includes listening to repeated renditions of problems people fixate on. After a certain point, though, it dawns on us that maybe this person enjoys feeling aggrieved more than they wish to find a solution. Alas, there are far too many people out in the world who get an adrenalin rush from being angry or hurt or whatever on a prolonged basis. They tell themselves that this is what it means to be alive! To show I care! To radiate my power! Nonsense.  A simple acronym may be all they need.

Just Because You Change Your Mind Doesn’t Mean You Were Wrong

February 28, 2013

Previously, I posted a piece entitled The Imbalance of Rigidity which started to explore the topic of holding onto fixed ideas despite changing circumstances. As an extension of this concept, I’d like to delve into the world of redefinition.

 

As Re-booters, something about our lives has been nagging at us that feels not quite right. We are compelled towards change, but we’re not necessarily clear on what to do. Most often, this need for change presents itself at a most inconvenient time—plus, it can feel terrifying!  Feeling as though we’re running as fast as our little legs can carry us, time for envisioning another way around the racetrack is in short supply. Life unfolds at such a fast pace, we’re just lucky if we can keep up.

 

But, not only does life evolve, but we do, as well. Our understanding of how the world works adjusts as we gain experience. Our bodies change. Our needs change. Our connections to people change. You don’t have the same relationship with your fifteen year old as you did when he was five, do you? Of course not! As your child has grown and matured, you’ve modified the way you think about them, talk with them, relate to them.

 

Now, take that experience and apply it to yourself: how might you re-assess your life in the context of your current needs and strengths? How might you allow your mature insight to shift your perspective and guide your overall growth? Let’s start with an easy example: remember some thing you fervently coveted as a teenager, but now the having it or not having it makes no difference to you? We all can think of something. For me, I wanted a red, Chrysler Le Baron convertible. Did I ever get it? No. And, as eye popping and glamorous as a red convertible can be, now all I think about is what a mess my hair would look after tooling around in one.

 

Let’s segue into more difficult terrain related to reconsidering our opinions and stances on an issue: how might you re-define and manage your relationship to challenging relatives if you study them from the wisdom and perspective of who you are today, as opposed to the powerless child you were back then? Might you now have more patience and be able to let a lot more provocation roll off your back if you didn’t haul around all that baggage? What about redefining your relationship to your past? Do you still need to nurse that old disappointment? Is it possible that, maybe, you somehow benefitted from this let down? Does it still have to mean “so much?”

 

Allowing ourselves to perceive things differently can feel terrifying because we fear it signals that we were “wrong” to feel the way we did; but that’s not what I’m suggesting. What I’m suggesting is that you are a different person now, so it can be reasonable to shift how you think about things to match the person you are today. I’m not talking about historical revisionism; I’m saying that there may be other, valid interpretations. You are not stuck with your childish perspective! This extends to how we think about our mistakes and our successes. Was what you failed to achieve  really so devastating in light of what you know now? Even if everyone around you holds tight to the definitions and standards from their past, that shouldn’t discourage you from reconsidering these things. Most people do not ask themselves these questions because they’re either too afraid to do so or it simply never occurs to them that their lives could be lived otherwise—you’re reading this post because you’re not afraid of the hard work that accompanies such questions.

 

Re-defining our role to others, to our past, to our mistakes and successes is part of the flex needed to keep balance in our life and a benefit of our overall growth.

Dental Dramas and Medieval Medicine

February 21, 2013

“Your jaw is in the way,” my dentist complained.

Unable to speak due to the wide variety of sharp implements in my mouth, I frowned in consternation, making a puzzled gurgling sound.

“Your jaw is in the way!” she repeated. “It keeps pushing the crown off and now I have to dry off the tooth in order to seat it properly.”

“Here, bite this stick and don’t move.”

Re-booters know never to argue with irate taxi drivers or with people who can inflict extreme pain with a flick of a dental tool. So, I bit onto the stick and willed myself not to panic.

“Hush now,” soothed the sympathetic Hungarian nurse after the dentist stormed out. “It’ll be ok,” she reassured me. “You don’t have to bite the stick that hard.”

Welcome to the world of Dental Dramas. Nine hours of unmitigated torture, bleeding gums, inconveniently placed jaws, and a captive audience.

Day 1 (less than 12 hours after I arrive from across the country)

The scheduled visit segues from a replacement of a 12 year old crown into a possible need for a second crown, seven composites, and relentless lobbying to visit a colleague endodontist “just to be sure,” I don’t need a root canal on a tooth that has given me no problems. Five hours and two full viewings of “Crazy Heart” using some bizarre headset glasses, I am informed that, “Oh, your insurance doesn’t cover any of this. That’ll be five grand, but you can pay us next week.”

Day 2 (the afternoon before I am scheduled to return to Washington)

This “routine” appointment stretched from two hours to four in order to deal with unexpected inconveniences such as my ill-placed jaw; I forewent watching any more films and sat there as my dentist complained about my anatomy. Then, they knock my glasses onto the floor and I am left nearly blind. So, it’s understandable that I am very much wanting to vamoose from the chair in which I have found myself, biting a stick. As the sun makes it’s way across the late afternoon sky, my dentist decides to share with me her plans for the remainder of the evening.

“I have a very successful patient,” she confides. “He’s an Industry heavyweight.” She pauses. “Well, he’s done a lot of work in Canada. He’s written a play about dentists, and I am the star!” After I make the expected approving gurgling sounds, she continues to share with me what a superb singer and dancer she is. This Industry heavyweight (well, in Canada)/patient suggested/pleaded with her to try out for his dentist play. When she sang I Dreamed a Dream for him, he exclaimed, “You must be my Leading Lady!”

Explaining that the dental office where they’d be rehearsing is, “the size of a sound stage,” my dentist then regaled me with other tales of theatrical glory which starred her and her husband in some dinner theater thing. Leaning in, she explained that when you are in a play, “you must remain in character.” In this murder mystery play, her husband had the role of, “the most handsome and successful star Hollywood has ever seen” and she was, “his beautiful, beautiful girlfriend.” God’s truth. No exaggeration. Verbatim. Apparently, the husband protested being made to serve in this capacity, but my dentist would have none of it. She decided he needed headshots and instructed him to mingle with the audience, handing out headshots and autographs to every pretty lady he saw. “The problem was, “ she grumbled, “my idea was too brilliant! All the women loved it and nobody paid attention to me!”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: she’s making this up. No, my friends, I don’t have the imagination to make something like this up. This is the truth.

Five thousand dollars poorer than I started, I exited the dental office in order to run off to Lenscrafters with my broken specs. Let’s just say that I now love Lenscrafters! I love them! They got me in a new pair of cute frames in an hour, 90 day guarantee. If you need glasses, this is my shout out to them. Nonetheless, due to my poor mouth’s condition (blame that stupid, inconveniently placed jaw), I had to delay my return so I could bite on more sticks. But, there are worse things. A Re-booter remembers to be grateful and always counts her blessings.

None of this has anything to do with re-booting your life, but I had to share because, well, sometimes you just need a chuckle. If popular request so demands, I may pepper this blog with other posts from the front because this sort of thing happens to me all the time!

The Current Value of an Old Tub

February 12, 2013

One of the challenges of massive, structural change—whether societal or personal—is the temptation to sweep away everything from the old order: the baby, the bathwater, and the tub itself. Caught up in the adrenalin necessary to push forward such upheaval, we sometimes minimize the value of everything and anything that came before in order to summon the nerve.

 

At times, the spectre of change is so scary that those engaged in it must work themselves into a lather rejecting everything about their prior lives.

Down with bathtubs! Who needs hygiene? If I smell that’s your problem—you’re trying to repress my natural expression of Who I Am. No more baths.

 

Free To Be You And Me.

 

I understand the impulse to start with a clean slate; it’s a lot easier to begin anew rather than find a way to incorporate valuable prior ways into a not-quite-formulated approach. Things that are known have track records that are easily criticized. But flaws, failures, and long running imperfections don’t make things automatically worth abandoning. You have flaws and failures, are you worth abandoning? No, of course not!

 

So, how do we summon the courage to alter our lives in order to create the existence we desire while retaining traditional elements that have nourished us, added value to our lives, and evoked our strengths? This is no small question, my friends. Oftentimes, it’s easier and less painful to draw a hard psychological or emotional line and pledge that, “everything will be different.” This utopian vision of what our future promises is simplistic and false. Simplistic, because no matter what direction we steer towards, there will always be complications and difficulties. False because utopia assumes no residual history—the presumption that the past won’t taint the present. When have you ever known this to be the case?

 

Now, back to that baby and the bathwater. As a Re-booter, I know all too well what it’s like to hate the life you’re leading and to feel absolutely desperate for change. This is an extreme position to find yourself in, and while I hope it never gets that bad for you, we all experience something on this continuum. The impulse is to run away, hide, and never look back—but this is a fantasy and one that really doesn’t serve our interests because our current existence has current value! There are elements that will serve us well should we carry them forward. And, if we were to admit it, gadding about smelling up the joint probably isn’t what we really want.

 

My point is this: while it’s all very exciting and necessary to see oneself as a revolutionary when contemplating big change, the utopian vision that generally accompanies such effort ignores the positives of what currently exists. The tub, the water, the social contract not to offend others—these all serve constructive purposes. It’s far less fun to deconstruct the bathroom so that you might soberly  re-use the lumber and plumbing than it is to set the whole thing on fire and dance wildly about, but what’s going to serve your long term interests better?

 

As you go about considering change in your own life, I suggest that you reflect upon those bits that most bother you and see if you might parse out some useful elements that might serve you well post-change. They are there; you can see them. Acknowledging their positive qualities may feel somewhat irksome to you right about now, but your feelings shouldn’t take precedence over good sense.

This Has Nothing To Do With The Election!

November 6, 2012

Ok, enough is enough with this FaceBook business! Honestly! So, today I go to my email and up pops an ad notifying me that 3 people have de-friended me and I can get an app to track down who they are. What?!? Who needs this consternation? So, of course, now paranoid and riled up, I log onto my FB page to see if I can figure out who is no longer amongst my friends and who I may have unintentionally offended enough to click me into oblivion.

 

How in the world does this targeted solicitation enhance my life? Now, I get to feel rejected by 3 mysterious people who the ad claims have dropped me. And, to compound my reaction, I’m annoyed with myself for being upset! All this angst over a social media website I rarely visit and people I don’t communicate with. Is this the sort of thing they do in Scientology?

 

Good grief. The whole thing is ridiculous. You’d think, what with me being an expert Re-booter sharing my insights and struggles with the masses (ok, well, maybe 15 occasional readers) that I would now be wise enough and serene enough to ignore sinister notices alerting me to the hordes fleeing my association. Re-booters are resilient! Re-booters are savvy and confident and wear good shoes! They don’t do things like fret over messages that warn me them about their rapidly diminishing social status.

 

So, what happens next? Do I need to scale back on my purchase of Christmas cards? A Re-booter wouldn’t do that. A Re-booter would confidently move on with her day, drinking two litres of water, exercising vigorously, and eating more fish and quinoa rather than munching on leftover Halloween candy and wondering when that movie on the Hallmark Channel is starting.

 

But, if a Re-booter were to behave that way, it probably isn’t a surprise that 3 of her erstwhile FaceBook friends de-friended her. Hmm.

 

I guess I don’t get it—well, it’s not so much of a guess as it is hard core knowledge. I don’t get the whole allure of FB and updates on people’s statuses. Yes, it is a great way to keep in touch, I suppose, but my brain simply cannot handle the barrage of Likes and Comments and Photos and Endorsements that accompany FB or LinkedIn or what have you. Not to mention the fact that I’m thrown off when informed that CDs are “old school.” How can this be? I must cling to my CD player even more tightly because it’s the only thing that plays mixed tapes anymore…

 

But Re-booters wouldn’t act this way. Re-booters would readily have mastered the newest alternative to CDs. Re-booters would wholly embrace LinkedIn as a fantastic tool of World Domination and invitations to mixers.

 

Maybe I should start a blog for Lapsed Re-booters. Re-booters who failed to find the start button and got de-friended as a result. I should learn from Honeybadger. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg

Best Laid Plans

November 1, 2012

Whether huge shifts or minor impediments, it happens to all of us: plannus interruptus. Something always comes up. You resolve to spend no more than X over the course of the next quarter, and you’re confronted with a surprise expense. You think you’ve anticipated every variable possible in order to make the family vacation as stress-free as possible and someone throws a monkey wrench. Somehow, for some reason, we are forced to adjust.

 

Most of the time, with good planning and a certain amount of discipline, we can build into our calculations sufficient flex that these bumps in the road are nothing more than that. But, what happens if you hit bump after bump after bump? What happens if that margin of error grows more narrow? How razor thin an edge can you tolerate? What can you lean on as you watch your immediate resources dwindle?

 

I’m not just talking about money, here. I’m also talking about emotional, psychological, and spiritual resources.

 

Things happen; they just do. And, inevitably, the things that happen can sometimes interfere with our own agendas and priorities or drain us of our store of patience. As someone who is working hard on curbing her impatient control freak tendencies, experiencing plannus interruptus presents significant challenges for me. I hate having my plans go awry—just hate it. Which is probably why I needed to have my entire life go awry because anything less would be insufficient incentive for me to revisit how I handle such challenges.

 

With more mundane matters, I remind myself that, most of the time, other people aren’t acting a specific way to annoy me—it’s not purposeful—they’re just doing whatever occurs to them to do. This mantra has been inordinately helpful and soothing to me over the years because, otherwise, I’d spend way more time shaking my fist at the skies. On occasion, there is the asshole who likes to change plans at the last minute simply for the control element it gives them–don’t get me started on these types–but more often than not, people aren’t trying to be Machiavellian. Learning enough to recognize that much of what happens to us is not personal is a key, key lesson. Kids, trust me, your life will be one thousand times better if you learn not to take life personally. As en experienced re-booter, if I can impart anything of value from my struggles it is this. Save yourself the grief.

 

Ok, so back to regrouping post irksome snafu. How often have you seen someone react to an impediment or complication in a manner completely disproportional to the issue at hand? They yell and complain or pout and withdraw and generally make things unpleasant for everyone around them. But there are others, too, who have a way of simply pausing, reorganizing, figuring a way around or through the problem, and continuing on their merry way—even if the outcome is not everything they had initially intended. And, don’t forget the fabulous unexpected outcome! This happens, too, but only for those who are resilient enough to continue, despite being thrown off their game.

 

In short, the purpose of this post is to sympathize with you that the best laid plans can and will get messed up, but how you adjust to this, how you think about it and perceive it makes a world of difference in the outcome.

The Big Picture User’s Manual

June 7, 2012

Appreciably altering one’s existence mandates that we take a step back and try to ascertain what’s happened, because if life were working the way we wanted, we’d most likely not need to re-boot! Somewhere within our internal structure, a bug lurks which we must identify in order to eliminate. For some, it’s a relatively simple fix; for others, there’s been a critical invasion of malware that will require significant effort to repair. Alas, if only life came packaged with a user’s manual…

 

Ok, so enough of this analogy.

 

Given that the baseline source of discontent is not always obvious, we need to follow the clues. We need to look for patterns. Let’s start there, shall we? Because, often, when someone is unhappy with his or her life, instead of examining overall patterns they take a single example, break it down into pieces, and then hold up a particular fragment declaring that this one instance speaks for their entire life experience.

 

No, my friends, no! This is NOT the way to do it! This will not solve your problem.

 

If you want to understand meaning, don’t pull things apart or practice any version of deconstruction. Rather, you must put things together; seek out the Big Picture. You can’t appreciate the beauty and meaning of a sculpture by breaking it apart and examining shards of marble. All you have is a pile of dust. Am I right?

 

So, again, you want to look for a pattern in your experiences and extrapolate from there. But don’t stop at the first right answer/pattern you identify. Rather, push forward and ask yourself, “What else might be true?” When moving through this course of action, do your best to be detached—try hard to remove emotion from your examination of the topic since our emotional reactions can easily hijack the entire process.

 

And, I should add, that when undergoing such scrutiny, choose a quiet time when you are in a decent mood. The worst thing you can do is to decide to do this when you are unhappy—believe me, I know—because the conclusions you will draw while in that mindset will invariably be erroneous.

 

It’s possible that answers or patterns may not present themselves on your first try, but simply releasing your mind to this course of questioning opens new doors. By being patient and giving your wise, inner self some space and time, the answer will present itself to you. I promise you, it’s there. Look within.

 

So, the takeaway of this post is as follows: on a day when you’re in a decent mood and have a few quiet hours to yourself, ask yourself about whatever it is in your life that isn’t working the way you hoped and then seek out patterns in episodes which reflect this unhappiness. Do this in as detached a state of mind as possible. Have confidence that, with time, the answer will make itself known. Good luck! 

The Discomfort of Scrutiny

April 30, 2012

At what point does acceptance serve as a nice way to describe complacency, resignation, or willful blindness? When does the quest for self-improvement metastasize into a loathing of one’s perceived vulnerabilities?  What is the tipping point for a rhythm to become a rut? Is the embrace of change and variety an escape from the tedious aspects of stability and commitment–a perpetual adolescence of sorts? There’s impartial scrutiny and then there’s torture disguised under the petticoats of “authenticity.”

 

I ask myself these horribly uncomfortable questions as part of the ongoing process of re-booting my life. The self-imposed demands of justifying one’s life’s choices (let alone results) extend far beyond my circle of one. In fact, I am willing to bet that all of you reading this have asked yourselves some version of these questions—at least once.

 

Like languid lizards resting in the shade of a hot desert rock, answers may peek their heads out briefly and then withdraw into the comforting darkness. Few of us go about with sticks, doggedly poking at our carefully constructed, stone hard mental defenses, holding our breath as we dare the answers to show themselves.

 

Recently, I was speaking with a friend back in California, inquiring as to her job situation. She endeavored to answer my questions, often prefacing any acknowledgement of her struggles by making reference to the fact that she was so blessed in her life. She could not bring herself to admit, flat out, how lost and unhappy she felt about being stuck in a low paying job beneath her capability. As I listened, it occurred to me that while, yes, it is undoubtedly true that we always have more than we lack, at what point is it ok to feel disheartened by our current life circumstances?

 

I am in no way endorsing a life spent wallowing in sorrow, but (aside from an evening involving strong cocktails) when is it ok to officially recognize the disappointments of our lives despite our blessings? Considering all the suffering in this world, is it ever, truly acceptable? And furthermore, at what point do you make the decision to remain in stasis “for the sake of xyz,” or to wrench yourself, kicking and screaming, into a new place with no guarantees it’ll be better?

 

Each person answers this differently. How often is the decision based on fear? based on love–for oneself or for others? How often can the decision be revisited? When does it become too late? Is it ever, truly, too late? At what point does it even matter anymore?

 

Even on the small scale that is my life, I struggle with these issues. I’m out there with my stick, poking at that wily old lizard on a near daily basis and I don’t feel any closer to nabbing him now than I did three years ago. There’s something to be said for patience and letting answers reveal themselves in good time—perhaps mine will crawl out one day, completely unexpectedly. In the meantime, I have to hope and trust that life will work out in the long run.


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