Yesterday’s post triggered this follow up.
I am currently working with a group of amazing women on being “Successful Guilt free”; professional women, moms juggling familes, carreers and trying to live a fulfilling life. I meet remarkable people in my work and in daily life but there is a thread that seems to make it into most peoples lives to some extent – that thread triggered last night’s writing and consequently this one. I feel it’s important to address because this really affects so many, across the board – Whether it is the busy adult who can’t say no to helping a co-worker when all that s/he desires is to make it home in time to kiss the kids good night, the friend who always seem to be running the errands of the other “friend”or the unattached, unable to turn down that random booty-call from a special someone that in reality will never leave his or her significant other…
When I suggest to people that they could opt out of the Disappointment Cycle in their lives, I’m often met with resistance. The Disappointment Cycle is where they keep responding in a similar manner because they hope that they’re going to get something out of it (a relationship, validation, significance, etc.,) and when it doesn’t happen, they get hurt and the cycle starts all over again. Resistance because they recognize the cycle and want out of it, but it’s like they believe that they have no choice over their part in the cycle.
We all have options but when we’re stuck in a cycle of doing the same thing and expecting different results, it appears like our options are limited to that uncomfortable comfort zone. We like to believe that there’s no alternative to the default response or we recognize that there is, but can’t see our way to choosing the alternative. We object sometimes to the alternative because we think it’s ‘too hard’ or we’re scared because it requires us to engage in consistent action and even support it with different thinking.
If you’ve found yourself repeatedly doing the same thing and have essentially ended up treading water in disappointment to the point where you’ve acclimatized to feeling disappointed, you might be feeling a tad mentally and physically worn out, so that the idea of putting one foot in front of the other, or pulling your hand back, or saying words that rumble through your mind and are trapped in your throat can seem like it’s an impossibility or at least a very difficult task. Having another go-round on the disappointment cycle is resignation with a little hopefulness, almost saying “Ack! Sure, one more is not going to do any harm…”. It is actually fulfilling one of our human needs, the need for certainty (and yes, we do not always fill our needs in positive & productive ways)!
I’d be lying if I said that when I initially started to recognize these patterns, way back when and making different choices, I wasn't catching myself and having to "bitch-slap" myself (not literally) to snap out of it, I was making a choice to better me and to stop the pain, the frustration, the drain - You name it!
I no longer hold myself hostage on long draining phone calls with people who do the equivalent of calling "The Telephone Dump" or hitting me with a barrage of drama when I see them. Instead I let the call go to voicemail and call back when it’s convenient to me. Now... Some of you who know me also know that the phone almost always goes to voicemail so please don't immediately assume I find YOU to be a drain. I have simply chosen to maximize my time for work, for my family, for me - Most often this means I won't drop everything to take a call other than an emergency and my client calls are always scheduled, these are two times I am obligated to be on the phone and I don't ever mind! I've made a choice of what works for me, prioritizing to have a healthy, successful work/life integration!
I still tend to be inclined to say YES to things that I’m asked to do, I have a "yes-attitude" but I’m conscious of this not translating to yes as in committing left and right. I remember to think about whether I actually want to, need to, or even have the time to, because I only end up not meeting my own expectations and feeling irked. Like any behavior, it takes both time and practice to change them.
There's been times when I've said to certain people, “Er, actually that’s not true…” or “You can’t speak to me/treat me like that”. The alternative was compromising my integrity or taking a bashing of my boundaries. With the friendships where I've felt compelled to speak up, are those that really matter or I would not have gone through with the stress and exhaustion of doing so. Afterwards, if there is a meeting of minds, it's incredibly rejuvenating and balances the relationship with a much more mutual respect. If the other side can't see your point of view, then sadly, it's time to take a break, sometimes a permanent one...
- You don’t have to pick up the phone.
- You could pick up the phone and not book yourself in for "use" or you could decline to meet up/do/whatever it is the "they" need from you.
- You could listen to the latest excuse and sob story, process it with reality, and draw a different conclusion and have a different response. “I’m glad to hear that you’ve changed and I wish you well but we both need to move on…separately.”
- You don’t have to silence your questions and opinions.
- You don’t have to run someone else's errands, lend money or play armchair psychologist.
- You don’t have to blame you. You could have your little moment and then go, “Uhm, hold up a frigging second here – I’m owning my own and that behavior is theirs.”
- You could think and I mean really think as opposed to dodging rational thoughts and the truth, which would actually calm you down and give you perspective - Yes, PERPECTIVE. People need more of this!
- You don’t have to chase after every negative thought and pile onto it. Whenever I catch myself ruminating over the "stuff", I consciously pull myself back and refocus my mind. That’s not me avoiding my feelings – that’s me having some free mind time and revisiting old drama and all it does is add negativity to me. Why go there?
Every day, you need to make conscious, considered choices about what you do and what you think. If you stop making those choices, if you choose not to choose and just ‘react’, and if you dodge responsibility, you will unconsciously fall into unproductive and unhealthy habits.
You have options even though you may have a tendency to do certain things --> if you recognize what those tendencies are --> get conscious about them --> work on doing the alternatives out of habit and even do the work to discover where they come from = You won’t keep falling for the same cons over and over again.
Let your choices do the talking... Or the walking.