The Chrysalis of Becoming

1362 Relax and Succeed - You've changed

Some of our circumstances in life occur suddenly and quite visibly. Others are those that we slowly slip into, without really realizing it. Then one day some unexpected thing jolts us out of our torpor and we suddenly wonder why we’re dating this person, or working at this job, or still in this city.

The sudden sense of urgency is a signal that our mind has woken up to a new reality. What is often challenging for us is that our new reality involves us realizing how much of our own life doesn’t even appear to suit us. This is a sign that we have discovered something about who we are.

The feelings that can go with these internal awakenings are often things like a repulsion for ourselves. We question our intelligence as to how we managed to even get to where we are. There is often a period of recrimination where we feel badly about the choices and regret the ‘mistakes’ we’ve made.

Following that shock, during our unfolding reaction, we tend to push things and others away. That’s a helpful reaction because we need the space, but eventually we realize that if we’re throwing away our new life, we now need a new life to live. And that can feel much scarier than pushing away a life we don’t like.

This is often a period where we tend to blame the life we had rather than realizing that it too was and is a worthwhile part of our journey, although we may not be able to recognize that value at this time.

Despite our judgment of our life experiences, our false results –our divorces, bad career choices, illnesses– are all just as much a part of our existence as the good times. The events themselves are neutral. They can feel terrible, but they can also be made into more positive things at different times in our lives.

A divorce is a chance at a better relationship and more happiness. Leaving a bad job can make us both a better employee and provide increased self-respect. And illnesses teach patience, grace and gratitude better than any other thing. It might feel at times like losing, but it’s still a form of winning in the long run.

1362 Relax and Succeed - Should the butterfly regret or be grateful for

As we begin to wake up we must remember our context. We are dissatisfied. Suddenly realizing that our situation is worse than we thought can lead us to start looking for all that is wrong. And any time in life we’re doing that we’ll be able to find as many things as we look for, and if we keep looking we’ll keep finding more. That can make things look much worse than they really are.

The real question for us often is, are things entirely bad the way they are, or does our awakening and our scrutiny only make it appear so? We can want to move, or change jobs or end a relationship, but we can’t assume that our dissatisfaction is rooted in the outside world. It is more likely within us, which is why sorting that out is wise before taking action in our external lives.

Reality happens within us. Sometimes that does prompt legitimate external changes, but we don’t need those to find peace. Nelson Mandela found it in a brutal prison. Yet he carried it with him into a Presidency. This is a liberating idea. It means no matter what, we are okay.

When we first wake up a bit, the reason that we see a strong appeal in new cities, new jobs and new relationships is that all of those things naturally deliver many reasons to not think our habitual thoughts. The problem is, over the long term they will not change how we see the world. Mandela’s soul wasn’t saved by the Presidency, it was saved by himself while he was still in jail.

Wherever we go, there we are. New situations will soon turn into the old situations if we do not first ensure that we have a good grip on our responsibilities within reality. The external world around us is shockingly flexible, we prove this by loving someone or something one day and then hating it later. It’s less the thing that changed and more that we have. There’s a real power in that if we use it wisely.

Dissatisfaction is a good basis from which to take action in our lives. That is a feeling worth paying attention to. But experiencing that feeling that is not, in and of itself, a failure on anyone’s part. It is only a signal, notifying us of the start of a necessary part of any journey through life.

Like it is for the butterfly, with greater perspective we often will come to see that our greatest gains were actually being made when we have felt we were struggling the most.

peace. s

Modern Dating

1346 Relax and Succeed - Modern dating

Who can blame people for being confused by modern dating? It’s been complicated by changes in both technology and in how human beings react to one another, and on top of all of that we have #metoo. Regardless of what gender we are or who we want to share our lives with, it’s a minefield of uncertainty out there.

Women have to figure out how to balance newly discovered strengths with their sensual femininity, men have to figure out how #metoo and 50 Shades of Grey can be popular at the same time. And before we complain about having to navigate that, just imagine how much more complex dating is for transsexuals, bisexuals, or the polyamorous.

I’ve recently written about the timing of a breakup, the notion of being successfully single, and today it’s dating, but these are all really the same subject: how do we balance our desire to share our lives with our desire to fulfill our personal destinies? How much sacrifice enriches us and how much is too much?

Those in relationships need some basis to make stay-or-go decisions on, otherwise the fear of being alone can force us into unhealthy situations we wouldn’t otherwise entertain. But leaving also means being single.

If we move in that direction, are there really ways to enjoy singledom and not feel like something is missing? And if we do want a new relationship, how do we tell who is right for us after a series of choices that lead to disappointment?

How do we work around the fact that apps have turned dating into a process akin to picking Chinese food? Because it’s easy to just keep ordering different dishes (qualities) in different combinations in the hopes that we can find a consistent order that meets all of our needs.

At the same time, our needs change day by day, so what defines a good match? Some things that we don’t like are good for us, yet whenever we run into relationship challenges it can feel easier to re-order than to learn to cook.

1346 Relax and Succeed - We can bring love into focus

In the end we cannot order a good relationship in. Good food or a good relationship will always be dependent on what we put into them. What works for one will not for another, and yet we do all share a set of underlying principles that people rarely even notice, let alone consider –hence the coming course.

There is no universal key to a good relationship either with another person or with ourselves, but there are ways to view ourselves and our partners that can be extremely helpful when it comes to helping us determine whether or not a relationship adaptation is valid or a deal breaker.

What people need are tools of the mind. We all need ways to think about ourselves and our situations that help us all recognize when we’re asking for too much, when we’re accepting too little, and what factors define what will make our lives rewarding.

These things can be done, but they require us to step back from our relationships and our pursuit of them. We must take time to philosophically consider what our perspective truly is. What are our priorities and why do we have them? In what ways would we benefit by making sacrifices to adapt our lives to that of another person?

People needn’t feel hopeless. There are answers to all of those questions, but we don’t get them just by wanting them. We must be prepared to sit down to take the time to truly sort them out.

Once we have reached our conclusions, we then have the wisdom necessary for navigating the decisions around dating, relationships, marriage and divorce, and they all become less tangled and more comprehensible. And whether we are together or alone, living with that kind of clarity is a truly beautiful thing.

peace. s

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

1345 Relax and Succeed - Should I stay or should I go

How much should we do? When is a relationship too bad or too unrewarding to stay in? The consequences of adults making these decisions are often enormous, and if we add kids or a business into that equation the high stakes go even higher.

Sometimes they come alone and sometimes they come as couples, but over time I’ve been asked to help with this question a lot. In fact I had just sat down to write this and someone contacted me about this very subject before I was even done this second paragraph –thereby changing it into what you’re now reading.

Whether as a couple or a single, this is one of the most difficult questions we face because there are simply too many variables.

Are we being unreasonable? Is this just a phase? Will the person change? Will we really be better off without them? Is it too late to re-start? Will anyone else want us after the breakup? If someone does, could they be worse than our current partner? Could more of the problem be about us rather than them? Or would we be better off alone? And how can we sort out that tangle of ideas?

These are all very reasonable questions, but the reason we often see-saw back and forth on our answers is because as our mood fluctuates so does our perception of the rest of our life. Yet no one wants to make a major life decision about a life partner based on a temporary mood, hence people’s desire to seek help in thinking through all the variables.

1345 Relax and Succeed - How can we tell

I have yet to meet anyone who came to me already taking into account all of the variables involved. In most cases people leave out huge impacts without ever really noticing they are inevitable.

The good news is that the serious consideration of these ideas generally leads to much happier lives regardless of the outcome. Some couples rekindle their love and very enthusiastically choose to stay together despite gigantic sacrifices, while others happily head their own way with the loving support of each other. Some form relationships with others, some stay happily single, depending on what suits each individual.

These can be legitimately seen as daunting decisions, but their importance does not mean we are prevented from engaging with these ideas in a positive way.

This isn’t about whether the relationship is good or bad or whether it lasts or not, it’s about whether each individual can actually thrive in the circumstances they are in, or if those circumstances need to change. Either way, couples are not in opposition, they are searching for answers that work best for all involved. With that as the objective, the entire process is far less emotionally wrought and far more empowering.

We shouldn’t assume that big, scary, complicated decisions will lead to big, scary and complicated outcomes. Even getting married is big, scary and complicated for most people, but that doesn’t mean the marriages can’t be good. Likewise, ending a relationship can also look big and scary and complex, but that does not mean that both people can’t end up happier in the end.

peace. s