How to Connect When It’s The Last Thing You Want To Do.

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As people we have a choice: connect or disconnect.

Some of us have been disconnecting from a very early age because it feels safe. But it leaves us empty.

We may be in control when we’re disconnected, living our lives through our intellect, but we become anxious and unfulfilled. From the outside everything looks ok, but it feels like shit.

To be connected is risky because if you do not have control over your emotional state, the outside environment will have an influence over how you feel. That’s when we distance ourselves or cut off completely, hoping the influence of others will barely be felt.

On the other side is the fear of being alone, which no one really wants deep down inside. Physiologically we’re wired for connection to others. And so, the two competing forces can create a lot of inconsistency in how we show up–both with personal relationships and with complete strangers.

I love talking to strangers whenever possible, asking questions that lead right to getting to know something about them. Don’t confuse this with small talk, however, with which I usually fail. Small talk feels forced, and doesn’t come from an authentic place of curiosity, so it’s more of a disconnect when I engage from that space.

I recently had my old Acura overheat 100 miles from home.

The tow truck driver showed up an hour and a half late. It wasn’t his fault, but my Type A personality took over and I had to keep reminding myself it does no good to get uptight. After getting out of the truck, he reached out to shake my hand. I looked him in the eyes as our hands met and said, “I’m annoyed because I’ve been waiting 90 minutes, and I know it’s not your fault, but I’d rather say it then make it awkward.” He smiled as he lead me to the cab of the truck.

In the past, I may have been a Class A asshole, wanting someone to make me feel better. But I am mindful of my shit now, and it’s important to communicate. Once my car was hooked up, he jumped into the cab and our conversation started.

During the six mile drive to the mechanic, we started talking about cars and car payments. He shared that he was an ex-Marine, and when he got out of the service he couldn’t afford the $250 monthly payment on his car because he had difficulty getting a job. He was 32 years old at the time, and eventually lost his car.

He then became an electrician’s apprentice, but it hurt his back so he couldn’t continue. I was thinking, “WTF, here’s this dude who served our country and he came home to very little opportunity!” I wanted to cry.

He eventually became a tow truck driver. Somehow the conversation moved to discussing cable, family (he has a wife and a small daughter) and the craziness of anger, hatred and over-the-top behavior that is broadcast in the world today. Both of us shared how sad it made us because the connection to humanity is always available. We are all the same inside regardless of the appearance of our bodies, sex, color, choices, job, age or anything we use to define ourselves.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I felt so happy to have met this man. I learned something, as I do every time I connect with someone. If I had stayed pissed off at him for showing up late, which was my first inclination, I would’ve disconnected and missed out on a truly great moment of humanity.

As he unhooked my car and I stood inside doing my paperwork, we waved at each other a few times. He was grinning ear to ear… and so was I.

Connection is everywhere, and it’s always a choice.

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Choices we make

Our choices. Our responsibility.

There is not a fairy Godmother who will rescue you when you have agreed to a decision that is an inconvenience or is a major cost to you in mental, financial or emotional stress. To be honest, we have nowhere to look but in the mirror.

It’s not a time to kick yourself or look to anything outside of you as to why you make a decision; it is an opportunity to learn more about your seed of intention.

Developing awareness of why we make the decisions we do, the purpose and the goal is a great way to understand our own motivation, thus make better decisions.

Whenever other people are informed and included in our goal it opens us up to trust. Trust them, trust ourselves to have made a good decision and trust that providence will help us along to our goal.

In trusting another, it also means we are looking for specific action or words to judge whether this person has come through in alignment with our perception of our goal.

We don’t always tell people they are included in our decision making, sometimes we assume they will come along for the ride. We unwittingly believe people have ESP, when they are unknowingly included in our plan. We develop an expectation of how they are to act or speak on our behalf, so they fit into the idea of what we “want”. And they don’t even know it!!

The thing is if we are aware of our own motivation, we may see that we “knew” there was a good chance we would be disappointed by another person. So, why would we make a choice based on another person coming through without their buy-in with the knowledge, we will be disappointed?

There are many answers to that question. It could be feeling like we don’t deserve what we really want or feel; that people always reject our wants or needs and therefore we set up the circumstances once again to show we don’t matter. That we are invisible to others.

Many times we make a decision to help someone, we believe on some level they will return the good deed.  And when the chips are down and this individual is nowhere to be found, we start the blame game if we are unaware of our initial motivation.

Perhaps, we subscribe to the belief that if we do something for someone, they must return the favor. I know many people who were raised with this philosophy, that says “I owe you one.”

We may expect someone to show up in a way that is out of character. To do something we have never witnessed this individual normally doing in their everyday life. Hoping a miracle will take place and this person will just go along with the program we have intended for them.

Why would we set ourselves up for such disappointment?

Do we feel we deserve it? Maybe not consciously, but I can guarantee you somewhere behind a wall, a past event or some other point where we got the impression that we weren’t worth coming through for, we have carried it forth into our present decision making options.

How many times have you been at odds with someone who you expected to return a favor or be in your corner when they had no idea you had that expectation?

I like to call these silent disappointments. Words that are true in our heart, yet left unspoken always lead to confusion, anger and a sense of loss. We may be afraid to tell someone we have made a decision and that we need their help, agreement or understanding, because it makes us feel vulnerable. And at some past point, often as a child when we were disappointed and made to feel vulnerable, we developed a strategy for coping at that time.

Running around with strategies of a child are what keep us stuck in certain patterns and beliefs we have about ourselves and the world. If you can get to where your sense of unworthiness, being bad, wrong or invisible originated, you can see the thought process you had in making sure that it never happened again.

I have a client who realized how he didn’t speak up about what he wanted regularly and would be upset when others in his life were either unaware of his decisions he included them in or they argued his decision and the involvement he was asking for from an individual.

He felt he would say nothing rather than the truth, because the truth of what he wanted would get him into trouble. And yet, by holding back about his choices and trying to either go with what someone else wanted or make no decision, he found himself angry and depressed.

As I was asking him if he could remember the first time he felt his needs being invisible and/or causing waves with others…he remembered when he was a kid visiting his Dad for the week-end. His Dad always did things to entertain him and his siblings. When my client spoke about what “fun” activity they were doing that week-end. His father uncharacteristically lashed out at him. The exchange made my client feel unimportant and unworthy, he felt wrong and he had not meant for his question to produce a negative outburst.

So… in that moment, he made a decision, he never wanted to encounter someone getting upset with him and abandoning him or making him feel unworthy, so he started to keep quiet. He said nothing to those close to him until he couldn’t take it anymore, whatever it was that he was not saying….and he suffered for it.

Once he had this realization, that he was carrying the strategy of an 8 year old; he could see a clear path of how he needed to take action and trust his decision-making abilities whether he has the buy in of others or not. He realized he had been sacrificing what he really wanted to do, and creating this persona of a person doing “what others expected of him”. He knew his decisions from this point forward needed to be spoken from a place of worth and knowing what he wanted in his life, whether others jump on board is no longer an issue. He is doing what is good for him and his anger and depression have lessened immensely.

Where do you find you make most of your choices from and why? I would love to hear from you.

Rear View Mirrors

While driving, someone I know was busy looking backwards, in his rear view mirror and literally, rear-ended the car in front of him.

It’s kind of a funny thing, when you consider he believed he knew the road ahead.

Guess he thought it looked like the road he had already driven down many times.

Memory lane is great for a few laughs and warm tinges of sentiment. It is definitely not the way to live in the present or create a future that is full of opportunity.

Saying we want peace, happiness, love and success in our lives requires a level of truth within oneself.

The truth as I have stated before is not a story of some past woe or success.

Seeking the truth is easy, it is that whisper or maybe a nudging from your heart. It is being in the present moment, almost as a newborn child. A clean slate, not encumbered by baggage or a slanted perception. Stepping forward into the unknown.

I have spoken about the unknown in previous posts.

As much as we say we want different, when the opportunity to experience new comes skipping along, we turn to the nearest tree and hide behind it. We don’t know if we can trust this interloper, because we are not familiar with the feeling.

Meaning, the feeling of “discomfort”, due to change or something different than our usual menu of the “known’. If it feels comfortable, please interpret this as… the same present, just re-gifted with a pretty bow.

When we look to the past to go forth, we seek what is familiar. We look for the ties that bind us to the past, even though we could swear our binoculars are set in front of us.

My favorite game of name that past pattern, is when we meet someone that we think is different.

We exclaim to ourselves, this person is nothing like our ex-mate or date, past mean boss or backstabbing friend. Only to find out that comfortable feeling we had when we met and it appeared to “click” is the “pattern” vacuuming us into its black hole of anti-matter.

The pull to the past can be incredibly strong.

We may not even be aware we are sucked into its vortex.

And we are the common denominator in our sad story. We were there for past events, present moments and the future to be determined.

Some people never leave the past AT all.

They have one foot in old relationships, old paradigms and old beliefs, which are ALL way past their due date.

This poor individual is holding on and afraid to let go, because that would require taking action and stepping into the unknown.

This person CANNOT tell themselves “truthfully” that this part of their life is over and no matter how long they hold on, they cannot revive a dead guppy. They don’t want to quit or fail, but maybe they could ask themselves: if the audience has long gone home and you are the only one standing there waiting for the trophy, maybe the fight is over?

Or maybe this individual in their fear of moving on ….  is holding out for a miracle and hoping something will change?

Their fantasy could be hoping the other party they hold onto will finally wake-up or have a personality transplant or see the light as to how awesome this individual is and “silly wabbit” they should have never dismissed this person from their love, life, business or friendship….

Miracles don’t come for those who wait with their backs toward the future; miracles come to those who participate in LIVING their life no matter what condition they are in mentally, physically, financially or emotionally.

An ending, emotionally, to an already over and done relationship, is a great way to step out of the past.

Make peace with it and see the relationship as an experience, in which you learned about yourself and allow it to propel you toward something different, healthy; a new beginning.

You can’t invite in the present or future until you appropriately put the past, well, in the past. Move on. Your dreams are not found looking backwards, they are only in front of you or beside you as you start to live into them.

The past can be insidious in keeping you stuck.

You could be having a conversation with someone and a “feeling” comes out of left field hitting you in the gut.

All of a sudden your demeanor changes as you relate that feeling to a past event with someone else. Now you don’t even realize you are “literally” in that past moment as you are relating to the person NOW in front of you. And you are now acting like you did in the past, instead of seeing if the situation you are NOW participating in will have a different outcome.

I can tell you, IT WON’T.

Why? Because, by your reaction to your OWN feeling you are going to create THAT same outcome! Yes, you have that much control!

Hallelujah! The past is repeated! You say to yourself, “See, nothing ever works out!” Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

And then your “story” grows.

Now you have more ammunition to load into your new “promise” to yourself. You promise to have more control over your life, what you do and who you let in….an air of suspicion, as no one can be trusted.

Instead of opening yourself more to the unknown and opportunities you have yet to experience, you create the “tv set” for more soap operas to emerge.

As your “story” unfolds from the past moving forth; you spend hours, days, weeks strategizing the “what ifs”.

All the different scenarios that could possibly happen to you are analyzed; you are prepared for anything to come up–all surprises accounted for and nothing slipping in the back door, oh yes…you got it covered!

Or do you?

99% of the time all the scenarios you created in your head, never happen.

And as you were busy thinking of all the possible outcomes, all that time strategizing a future that never came to be, you weren’t even living in the present moment. You were living in the past, because all of those scenarios were based on things that had gone wrong in the past.

It is almost feels like the Universe does it on purpose, all that mental prep work and viola! Nothing happens.

Another favorite “name that past pattern game”, is the one in which you meet someone new. And this person is actually different than others in your past.

Yet, you are bound and determined to ensure this relationship will fail too.

You remember the feelings you had in the past when you trusted another person. You were disappointed, disillusioned and hurt. You find yourself in an odd place with this new person, because they don’t seem to be responding to you as others did in the past. They seem to have different qualities….but you tell yourself the three-headed monster will emerge soon enough and prove once again that no one can be trusted….not even you.

You see this is the crux of what I discuss with my clients.

It is not a matter of you trusting others.

It is a matter of you trusting “YOU” to handle the disappointment when things don’t work out how you wanted; it is your fear of your own inability to handle your own emotions when it doesn’t go your way. We run through life avoiding that which may cause us to possibly be hurt and disappointed, because we may be overwhelmed by our state of mind. Unable to function. And again, our world grows smaller and smaller.

If you can catch yourself running from situations and people which elicit a feeling or a memory from the past…

Catch it with your butterfly net…..and hold it for a minute or two. See what that feeling tells you rather than you just succumbing to the fear it brings you. Look at it closely and see that it is harmless. It always was harmless, its only potency was the “power and energy” you gave to it and now in the present moment, you have a choice. 

Will you carry that past feeling you are experiencing into the current situation, so you can repeat the past?

Or will you choose to recognize it and realize it has no power in the present, unless you allow it to take over. Yes, you are in control and resilient even if things don’t go your way.

You see the more honest you are with yourself the more “whole” you become.

And the more whole you become, the more resilient you are to handle disappointment.

And then you are able to see the future as a newborn, knowing that what happened in the past does not need to be recreated unless that is what you choose…so look at every road as untraveled, even if you have been down it a million times. You never know what new opportunity may be coming after that next green light.