Friday, May 30, 2014

When Relationships Get Tangled

Recently I was cleaning up some construction stuff in our yard when I came upon a tangled mass of silver wire and yellow string. Two perfectly good, practical items that just needed to be extricated from one another.

I got this, I thought.

I began to work one of the loose ends of string through the loops of wire, trying to track the twists and turns as I went. I worked at it and worked at it, and eventually realized that the more I tried to untangle, the more tangled they seemed to get. And more importantly, the more frustrated I became.

It was reminiscent of some tough past relationships.

I'd stay in them thinking if I just put in more effort or just tried to understand my boyfriend's nuances better—just traced those lines more closely—I'd be able to sort everything out. I'd be able to find the magic escape route of our love labyrinth and get us back on parallel paths.  

Have you had a relationship like that? Where yourself and a partner—two perfectly good people who were fine on your own—suddenly find yourselves so rumpled around each other and in such a mess that you can no longer contribute anything meaningful to one another?

I know I've been there. Trapped by my own entwining. 

As I held the yellow string and coiled wire, I realized there was only one way to solve the problem.

The same way I had to solve the relationships that—no matter how much I worked and worked at them—seemed to get snarled and messier as more time passed.

I had to cut the tie.

The string and wire wouldn't serve anyone until they were separated again.

Are there ties right now you think you should cut to better serve yourself and the world, and relieve the frustration of a never-ending entanglement?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Often Are You Creating Tragedies Before They Actually Strike?

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I started thinking about how my husband and I are going to have to put our new baby chickens in their outdoor coop in a couple weeks. The next thing I knew, my mind was spinning up imagery of them being injured or dying and my husband and I crying.

Great way to fall asleep, right?

Do you let yourself go down dark mental paths when something new or exciting is about to happen?

BrenĂ© Brown calls this dress rehearsing tragedy. Joy and excitement are such vulnerable feelings for us that our pesky little brains aim to arm themselves—and make us less vulnerable—by playing out worst-case scenarios.

The problem with this is that it robs us of all the joy in the present. And it doesn't actually prepare us better or protect us if something bad does happen in the future.

I was talking with a client recently who is in the process of trying to buy her family's dream home. On one hand, she's so thrilled by the prospect of having more space and a brand new kitchen—but the other hand is flailing wildly, dress rehearsing tragedy, telling her that her family will go bankrupt and end up on the street.

Highly unlikely, but our defense mechanisms love to paint the bleakest of bleak pictures.

So how to cope when you find yourself creating a tragedy that may never even occur? 

Focus on gratitude. 

Instead of going down the path of "What if?" stay on the path of "What is."

Consciously choose your thoughts and fill them with what you have right now in this moment. Or if you want to get manifesty, let yourself daydream about the best-case scenarios. 

Not only does this feel better, it'll keep the vibe you're putting into the world more positive—which can help attract more good stuff into your life.