Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Truth

Traffic was unusually heavy on my way home one evening because of a festival. As I looked ahead, the closer the exits approached downtown, the more congested the exit ramps became. I had a decision to make. I could continue to inch along for the next few miles or I could exit early and drive through the neighborhood. Regardless of what I chose, the traffic had already impacted my ride home. My decision would influence how much later I would arrive, but it would not reverse or change the truth that I'd been stuck in traffic.

Circumstances can cause us to feel stuck, like we are left with little to no options. We all face life's traffic jams that require us to make decisions. We can remain in our traffic—the things that didn't go as planned, the hurtful things others have said and done, the poor choices we made, and the choices someone else made that affected us—and tell the stories repeatedly. We tell these stories because they give us comfort. We repeat these stories because we believe that they justify why we haven't reached our destinations of peace, joy, and fulfillment.

You may feel like your life has turned into one big traffic jam. You feel stagnant, as if you aren't moving forward and you can't start over. You may have a history filled with rationale on why you took the path you took. Your childhood may have been less than stellar. Your romantic relationships might mirror slapstick comedies more than a moving romance. Your professional career may be inconsistent and uninspiring, but all of that exists in yesterday. As long as your internal dialogue is focused on what was, your external life can't become what's possible. Your stories should be used help you process, not hinder your progress. Truth is meant to liberate and bring clarity, not to keep you confined and clouded. Don't use the truth as an excuse.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I wasn't going to blog this week. What has been on my mind most is far too fresh for me to fully process. Plus, I did not feel free nor confident enough to share. Yet before I shut down and gave up, I realized that this was precisely the time that I needed to press through and find my message in the midst of the haze.

When we move beyond the shock of a life-changing, emotional situation, it is wise to reflect. Reflection is where we discover clarity and achieve growth. Reflection gives us the space to articulate our feelings and shows us how to work through and with those feelings. Reflection provides us with the confidence to know that we will survive future hardships and the guidance needed to move beyond survival. Yet what are we supposed to do make it to that point? How do we find our way out of heartache while in the center of it? How do we push further when we already feel completely stretched? How do we find the strength to go on when it takes everything in us just to function? The short answer is to do exactly what we don't feel like doing.

When life delivers a significant blow our initial reaction is tied to our comfort zone. Some of us run. We run to work, run to take care of others, run to activities, run to retail therapy, or even run to create a totally different life. We run because it seems safer than remaining. We are comforted by the distractions and convince ourselves that being removed from the situation will remove us from the heartache. However, heartache cannot be outran. It attaches itself to us, taking a free ride wherever we go. When we exhaust ourselves from running, there it is, ready to be dealt with while we're out of energy and sometimes, out of the range of our support system.

Instead of running to things, people, and new surroundings, some of us retreat. Some of us take all of the hurt, anger, and fear and internalize it. We tell ourselves that talking about it is pointless because it will not change the situation. Or we believe that we can't trust anyone with it. The truth is that we don't trust ourselves to be that open. We are terrified that if we open up we will lose control so we sentence ourselves to silence. We think our heartache is losing its strength and power under our self-imposed gag order while it is actually increasing as it feeds off of our strength and depletes us of our power.

I have been guilty of both running and retreating. In each case, I tried to ignore my emotions, foolishly hopeful that since they weren't invited they would take the hint and leave. Whether I ran or retreated, they never left. They simply waited. This time around, I'm doing neither. I'm doing what is not tied to my comfort zone. I'm not running. I'm not retreating. I'm doing exactly what I don't feel like doing. I'm pressing through. I'm finding my message in the midst of the haze. I am dealing.

Instead of running, I'm acknowledging what I feel and not categorizing those feelings as right or wrong nor good or bad. They simply are. Instead of retreating, I'm actively reaching out to those who support me. I want more so I am doing more. When I reach the reflection phase of this particular situation, I will have more strength, more courage, and more confidence in my ability to do more than simply survive.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Decision Cycles

We are in a continuous cycle of decision-making. We contemplate decisions, act on decisions, and live with the consequences of decisions. As we go through these cycles, our emotions go through changes as well. It is rare that we feel anything—trust, fear, joy, sadness, excitement, or dread—the entire time that we work through our decisions.

Last month I packed up my life and relocated to California. The contemplation phase of making this choice was easy, fun, exciting, and brought me joy. Everything about making my decision was thrilling. I was going to a beautiful location featuring the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. I was starting a challenging and amazing position that seemed tailor-made for my professional experience and personal interests. I was moving to a walkable neighborhood that made my desire to park my car on weekends realistic. I was joining a laid-back yet social community that fit my personality. This move was perfect! However, acting on the move was far from perfect.

The action phase of my decision—my perfect decision during the contemplation phase—was stressful and emotional. The first moving company I hired was a no-show, five days before I was scheduled to leave. The driver that was supposed to ship my vehicle took it on a joyride. My perfect, no-brainer decision came with unexpected, major difficulty. I wondered if I missed the mark. How could something that started so perfectly become so problematic? Did I want this change so badly that I imagined more assurance and confirmation than actually existed? Had I made a mistake?

As you go through decision cycles, it's vital that you remain connected to your state of mind when you made your decision. Even the most beautiful, peaceful, and necessary decisions can come with pain, disruption, and challenges. The discomfort you may feel during the action phase of your decision should not shake your confidence and dilute your joy. Press forward. Remain stable. Hold on until you get to the satisfying state of living out the consequences of your decisions. I know I'm glad I'm living out the consequences of mine.