Last week I was in session with a client, when I got my mind blown. The client said to me “if you are not changing it, you are choosing it.” (WOW!) That caused me to pause. The client even checked to see if I was still on the line because it was a phone session. Good thing, too because I was left with my mouth wide open while I processed this simple statement.
If you are not changing it, you are choosing it.
That prompted me to evaluate all the things.
So what in my life am I passively choosing by refusing to change?
I first eliminated the occurrences in my life I have no control over (i.e. the guy driving like an asshole in front of me, the US Supreme Court, my daughters’ mouths, etc).
Once those were pushed to the side I began to really assess what I was choosing. This led me to my laundry list of (actual laundry included) of complaints
I’m tired ALL the time.
I am overwhelmed with ALL the things.
I don’t have time to do ALL the things.
I hate ALL the laundry.
You get the idea.
Then my oppositional tendencies kicked in…how am I choosing to be tired all the time? I want rest, but I don’t have enough time to rest because I am overwhelmed with all the things I have to do and laundry continues to pile up! Could I have meditated and not binged watched the rest of Cheer last night and gone to sleep at a decent hour – sure but what is ONE night gonna do?
It’s the ONE nights that really get me! Because one night of Netflix drama leads me to one bowl of ice cream, that leads me to racing thoughts preventing me from sleep, that leads me to hitting snooze one-too-many-times, that leads me to being late for work that leads me to being behind and overwhelmed all day, that leads me right back to another bowl of ice cream in my bed watching Vampire Diaries reruns thinking about all the things I didn’t get done that day and then back to…(I’m sure you can guess from here).
One night. One choice. One change. It DOES matter.
Let’s take that same day full overwhelm, cheer-filled dreams and ice cream after oversleeping…what if I came home and exercised instead? Or journaled about my frustrating day? Or meditated to let go of my overwhelm? Not all of these, just ONE. Then tomorrow maybe I add going to bed earlier without the TV on or maybe I simply repeat the choice from the previous day.
That is choosing change.
That is doing something different instead of the same thing expecting a different result (you know, the definition of insanity?!)
Recently, I’ve been crawling out of a rough patch, of my own creation. I did not jump down in the dark abyss of self-loathing and despair, I slid down one small choice at a time. Each choice coated in the lie of “it’s just ONE day/time/bowl/glass”. The “ones” became comfortable and I soaked in the darkness while I convinced myself this is where I deserved to be. I pushed away those closest to me. I closed myself off and used “I’m fine & you?” as a defense from any attempt of concern. It is really difficult to look at yourself in the dark, so I did not. I kept quiet and stayed comfortable there.
The outside world of consequences wouldn’t let me stay in the dark. The effects of my behavior started slowly and softly tapping me on the shoulder. This turned into shaking my shoulders with the force of two hands and eventually holding a mirror in front of me, forcing me to look at myself and the comfort zone I created. I wasn’t proud of what I saw in my reflection. I wasn’t really comfortable. I was hiding. However, when I looked up from my deep, dark abyss I couldn’t see a way out. I was so far down. I’m not freaking Wonder Woman and I can’t lasso my way out of here.
I was tired.
I was overwhelmed.
And I still had a lot of freaking laundry. But I wasn’t alone. I had only chosen to be for awhile.
I made a choice. I talked to my husband, who still loved and accepted me. Then, I talked to my friend. Then another friend. I didn’t make a big, blanket announcement that I was struggling, I was honest with the people I love and trusted. The same people I had pushed away with the lie of “I’m fine”. They still loved and accepted me.
With each person in my circle I reached out to, I began my climb out. I’m still building the ladder and figuring out what choice comes next, but I am uncomfortable, so I know I am still climbing in the right direction. Comfort is no place for me to take up permanent residence.
Climbing out is much more difficult than the slide in, but it is still ONE call/text/honest conversation at a time. I began to clean up my mess with one healthy choice after another. There isn’t enough super power in the world for me perform a complete overhaul, but I can make a MASSIVE change with one choice at a time.
This was not my first visit to the deep, dark abyss. It’s super easy to get there, so I’ve made the trip before and more than likely will do it again. However, I do not have to stay as long because with each trip down I learn something about myself that helps me make that first choice to find my way out the next time.
My choices and my darkness may sound and look different from yours, but our answer is the same – One at a time.