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

When Others Let Us Down

 

1333 Relax and Succeed - Human beings are gods hidden from themselves

For some of us it was a cheating spouse. For others, an addicted friend, or a neglectful parent. For some it was a crime, or it may even be abuse by an authority, or an institution. There are many ways to feel the extremely tormented pain of neglect or betrayal. But there are also ways to be free.

It is a deeply poignant thing to move through the rush of feelings we experience when we sense that those around us have let us down. Part of our reality shatters. The whole experience makes more of the universe feel forever less certain and that makes us angry. We don’t feel safe. It makes sense that we resent whoever is associated with our feelings of vulnerability and helplessness.

But our resentment, anger, or need for moral justice rarely pay off. Like the Buddha says, we are not punished for our anger, but by it. Even if we exact revenge, the best that can happen is someone else suffering and any pleasure we get from that is short-lived even if we remain satisfied that justice has been done.

There simply is no going back in time. No matter how important something was, no one can unscramble scrambled eggs. People can’t undo one hour of sex, two years at a bad job, or 18 years of absent parenting. Each of those things and everything else like them are water under the bridge, and the desire for a different history will generate a great deal of anger and regret.

Fortunately, those feelings won’t last, and for fairly logical reasons because the reasons for the feelings make sense. But because they do, it is possible for us to speed up our ‘recovery’ to a potentially positive view of a situation, or even another person– if we’re prepared to.

Firstly, we must accept that our brain has these people or institutions weaved into massive amounts of our lives, and anger is like a jolt of electricity through our system. This means that when we are angry we are likely to grab information from all over life and history to express our outrage. But that’s fine. We can even be totally unreasonable.

The process of fully feeling our emotions isn’t about the perpetrator(s) of the betrayal, it’s about us bleeding off some of our own totally understandable brain chemistry steam in a non-destructive way. We have many compelling and painful thoughts under a lot of pressure.

This is why our pain from these experiences should be fully felt. Rather than pretend we’re okay and then convert four angry days into 20 resentful years, we are better to fully feel the feelings we have. We need not be scared of them. They are there to be felt. And after we’ve felt them, we can get on to empathy.

1333 Relax and Succeed - Empathy when you plant lettuce
We should nurture our understanding of those who we feel have done us wrong.

If we feel badly expressing ourselves honestly we have to remember that it’s society that told us to hold those feelings in, and we’re still recovering from the Victorians and they were scandalized by the word ‘leg’ (you had to use ‘limb.’). We don’t have to go insane or commit crimes or hurt others to let pain out. We just have to find constructive forms of letting off that emotional pressure.

Run, lift weights, listen to thrash metal, go to one of those places where you can pay to smash things. Or maybe just find someone who loves you that will let you rant, or abuse them for a while, on the understanding that you’re going to get proxy angry at them because you can’t yell at the person or institution that hurt you.

People that love us can survive that experience because they are the ones that accept us with our imperfections, just as we do theirs. That’s why we love them. But it’s a very healthy thing to ensure the person understands that we know full well that it is misplaced anger, and that we are grateful to them for helping us.

By doing that we make it much easier for the other person to hear us being unreasonable without taking it personally. If our point is to inflict pain, of course we’ll choose painful things to say. That doesn’t mean the things we say are somehow true. We’re blowing off steam, not doing journalism.

Once the anger has dissipated we can then begin a meditation that will untie the Gordian Knot of anger and blame in our imagination. In reviewing any situation from a less emotional distance, and by meditating on the other person’s context and history, we can often find that what happened makes more sense than what we had hoped would happen.

When we go from being an ego having a personal struggle to a limitless self having a psychological experience, we move from having feelings about a knot of things, to simply cutting through those feelings with understanding

Eventually our meditations on others lives lead us to realize more profoundly that others do not see their role in life as fulfilling all of our expectations. Nor should they. Otherwise we would be doomed to have to do likewise.

This means that, essentially, we feel let down when people fail to meet our expectations by merely being the only people they could be, given their experiences and their awareness. None of us can be someone we aren’t no matter how much we love those around us.

The people that let us down are merely people who are not who we had imagined they were. We can’t blame them for our imagination. Instead, by taking responsibility for our own speculation, we achieve understanding and forgiveness in return. And resentment and anger for understanding and forgiveness is a trade worth making.

peace. s

Dealing With Mom

1326 Relax and Succeed - Dealing With Mom

Hi,

I hope you’re doing good. I’m sorry for letting you down.

It hurts when I think that you might want to lean on me and can’t so I’ll be honest –I try not to think about that. Even when I do, I wouldn’t have a clue of what to say anyway.

Like everyone with a mouth I throw a lot of opinions around, but the longer I live the less I believe that anyone knows what to say for big stuff. There’s things when we’re young that we have to figure out to be adults. And a lot of times it just plain hurts to learn it.

That’s the hardest thing about being a dad, you know. Watching your kid hurt and knowing that you can’t stop that. That there’s nothing you can do –it’s awful. You feel like you failed but it’s just normal life, but your kid doesn’t know that yet so you guys get mad at us when we already feel awful. It’s all super confusing.

So, here’s the good news. If you’re confused, then that’s good. You must be on the right track then, because that’s what happened to me and everyone I ever met or heard of. Even famous super successful people.

They say the divorce rate is supposedly 50%. That’s a lot of daughters –and sons– growing up without their Dad’s around I guess. Or around much. And that’s if you even get to meet him, right?

Some Dad’s miss their daughters like crazy. Other guys find the whole thing so painful that they try not to think about it at all. Some climb into a bottle. There’s other guys who know their daughters are better off without them so use the disappearing act, or the kid gets the Old Yeller version of love, where they try to make their kids hate them so the kid won’t blame themselves when their Dad leaves.

There’s even guys that wish they’d never been born at all; so they couldn’t even have a daughter whose life they could screw up. And there’s everything in between. All of us Dad’s are a mixture of those tactics. There is no ‘right’ thing to do.

Look, it doesn’t really matter how it all got to where it is because it just is. No one means to get divorced. However it happened, that leaves you and your mom stuck alone. That’s not an easy thing for either of you. I want you to know that I know that. A lot of people know how hard that is. Even your mom had a mom. And bills are bills. Here is something I know for sure: you’ll hate those too.

Why I’m writing is that my friend’s daughter –she’s so angry. I don’t want you to be like that. Her anger’s just eating her up and she’s an amazing girl. I don’t want you turning your anger against yourself like that.

I want you to use your amazingness like the gift to the world it is. So I’m gonna try to explain the little bit I know in case it helps you. I’m sorry I can’t be there in person to do this.

1326 Relax and Succeed - We cannot avoid all strife

First thing: you gotta remember that your mother’s a person. She’s not just your mom. She’s a lot of people to lots of us. But she’s a person. Remember that. If she seems mean or tough or even really super sad –this divorce stuff, and dating. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And all my female friends –they all tell me it’s super hard for them too. Be compassionate, okay?

Some of them feel pathetic after they break-up. Some kind of panic and try too hard. From what I hear from some moms, they even can end up competing with their daughters. That’s men’s fault.

Men can be pretty judgmental so being older probably seems pretty scary to a lot of ladies. I never even noticed my female friend’s necks but they seem to think they’ll never get married because of them. If your mom starts wearing beads it might be because she’s scared.

Sometimes moms are cold or angry or whatever, because someone betrayed them. People like that don’t trust love anymore. Not even with their kids. That’s how much it hurts. I have a friend who is so scared to love her daughter because she’s afraid of what will happen to her if the kid ever rejects her. She’s already lost everyone in her life so this thing with her daughter –she’s terrified.

There’s also moms where sometimes the mom just never got any love given to her so she had no one to show her how to give hers away. If this is all making life seem too complicated and not worth it –it is complicated. Way more complicated than you can know. But it’s totally worth it. It’s why I’m writing. If you don’t see your own value you can waste your life not living it. And that’s bad because life is great even with all the crap.

Don’t forget, a lot of problems moms have, got caused by their husbands. And even if they didn’t, if she’s in pain she’s in pain. Don’t expect her to show that because she has to be strong for you. So her pain’s gonna come out as anger. Remember that. Your mom gets mad when she’s hurting.

A friend of mine went to see Oprah talk. She was shooting a movie –Oprah I mean, not my friend. And the director had to teach Oprah how to tuck-in the girl playing ‘her daughter.’ She didn’t know how because she had never had that happen. Her mom had a hard life and was cold and her grandma was mean. And mom’s –or anybody– can’t give away what they’ve never been offered.

What matters is, Oprah’s life turned out great. So a girl can have the worst mom in the world and still have a great life. And your mom’s a long way from the worst. Your mom’s so good I had you with her. She loves you it’s just –you’ll see. Being an adult is not parades and parks and ponies the whole way I’ll tell you that. She’s doing better than you think.

You deserve the love. You do. You are perfect exactly the way you are, pain and scars included. Never forget: just because people can have trouble showing it doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It already hurts us when we can’t show it, so you being mad just makes it worse.

If a kid asks for love we should give it to them. We should. But sometimes we just won’t be able to. You probably have stuff now that you wish you could stop doing –or start doing– and those things are probably easy too. I’m not sure why we can’t do that stuff, but your mom’s got stuff like that just like you and me do.

When she feels unlovable, every time you push her to get love she’s going to find a way to protect herself. It freaks anyone out when someone asks another person to do things that scare them. Moms are people. Dads too. We screw up and get stuff wrong. But none of that means you’re not loved.

Don’t spend your life angry. You’re loaded with so much potential you wouldn’t even believe it. But I’ve seen people waste that on anger or on being sad. Even if they have reasons to be, it doesn’t do any good!!

We have to make something of our life because it feels better when we do. We have to be selfish about that. I guess it’s like grandpa used to tell me. He used to always say, ‘life is its own reward.’ Huh. Now I’m him. See how that happens? (Some day you’ll have a daughter that will be mad at you.)

I hope you and your mom find a way to connect better and not fight so much. If that happens I’m glad. And if not, well, remember: Oprah turned a mean mom into a great life. Yours isn’t even mean. 🙂

So do what Oprah did with your dumb, absent Dad. But your mom is there. And what she’s doing is hard. She’s making way more sacrifices than you’d think. So just try to remember that her anger is pain. And remember she loves you. Because she really does. So don’t forget to love her back.

Now go be awesome.

Love, Dad