Breathing, eating, sleeping = tick. Life is good!
After posting my blog Growing Pains I've had messages and emails from friends asking if I'm OK. The past few weeks have been some of the most powerful and awakening weeks I think I've ever had but they have involved parts of my world (and Self) falling apart.
But I see that as a good thing and I'll tell you why…
If you've read some of my other posts you'll have an idea about who I am and how I go about my business. My version of that is I'm a coper. By that I mean I can cope with almost any situation and still end up happy. Doesn't matter how bad the scenario, I might have a meltdown in the middle but it doesn't usually take me very long before I spot a silver lining or three and I'm back in Happyville.
And that's great.
However, part of my being an eternal optimist is my uncanny ability to solve problems. I mentioned in a previous blog Save Me that I'm a rescuer. One of my main archetypes is the rescuer/healer which has its upside (I'm really good at helping people/myself see a way out of their/my problems), and a downside (I have a tendency to "fix" things [things being people/me]).
Being a natural healer (both of myself and for others) I'm very good at understanding the bigger picture, empathising (i.e. figuratively putting myself in the other person's shoes) and coming up with a creative and practical solution.
And I do this for myself All The Time.
Seriously, put me in a fatal car crash and I'll see it as an opportunity to grow, take away my job and I'll carve new pathways into my career, reduce my income and I'll come up with five new recipes that cost next to nothing but are still healthy and delicious.
Really, it's almost ridiculous how I can maintain a positive outcome. But there is a converse reality to my apparent ability to cope with everything, and that is, that I can't.
I'm a human being so there's absolutely no way I can cope with everything.
And that's where I've got to in the past few weeks. I've started allowing myself to not cope. I'm not falling into a ball of tears and unable to get out of bed – that's not my style. But I am allowing the part of me that cannot and does not want to cope (small as it may be) to underfunction.
Underfunctioning and overfunctioning are terms I first heard when reading The Dance of Anger and The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner. Harriet is in my opinion one of the western world's leading psychotherapists and her books have literally helped change me.
Upon reading her books I quickly identified with being an overfunctioner: I get things done, I always seem OK, people rarely offer to help me because I don't appear to need it.
But anyone who identifies with that will agree that even those of us who seem to always have our sh*t together, sometimes don't. And in those times we'd really like someone to ask us how we're doing. Only, it's probably easier to know when an octopus is ovulating because overfunctioners give off such a strong vibe of being OK, you'd have to be Harriet Lerner to know when we're not.
And as a classic case I can also vouch for the fact that we're usually not very good at asking.
Guilty as charged.
So, during the past few weeks as my client list and bank account shrank, I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to learn how to underfunction. Optimism = tick!
Yup, instead of rushing in to "fix" my problem (my old pattern), I have used this recent experience to get to know a new part of myself. And I gotta tell you, it feels fantastic!
Previously, I have had such an automatic response to solving problems that I've never given it a second thought before shifting into rescue mode. I think I had the notion that underfunctioning was a bit like an old cardigan that you might find in an opshop. It would have had holes in the elbows and missing buttons and probably smelled a bit musty.
But, I'm thrilled to say, the complete opposite is true! Underfunctioning (for an overfunctioner like me) is like a fur-lined jacket that actually feels super soft and relaxed.
Now I'm not saying that lying in bed, doing nothing and feeling sorry for yourself is going to soothe your Soul. I'm still taking action towards finding work and getting my cashflow back on track. The difference is I'm letting myself ask for help. I'm no longer pretending I've got this. I even had a conversation with my mum where I explained my situation and asked her if I could come and stay with her if things don't get better in the next couple of months.
I would never have done that before.
And to be frank, I don't intend to do it either, but it feels really good to have sat in the underfunctioning seat and asked for help. Really, really good.
Truth is, that conversation has undone a lifetime of (unaware) inauthenticity on my part. I mean, I didn't even know that I was continually putting on a brave face and presenting a facade that was impossible to upkeep. Well, it lasted 44 years so that's not bad, but now I know I can let my guard down, I feel so much lighter!
Because now I can be All Of Me. Even the tiny bits that I was previously locking in the basement because I was telling myself it was not OK to "fail" or need help. Like ever.
Wow! Imagine trying to keep that up! But I hadn't even realised that's what I was doing. Coping and overfunctioning were so ingrained in me that I had absolutely no idea I was simultaneously denying a whole side of me that wants to take her hands off the wheel and let other people help.
And the greatest change that's occurred though all this is that I am now looking for a job! Gasp!
For 10 years I've resisted looking for solid, lasting employment because I was so hell bent on doing it my way (see above) and was in denial that actually, it would serve me to have steady work because then I could focus on my other pursuits without the underlying (and unconsciously overwhelming) need to sort my sh*t out so that I can eat.
And the best part is I'm actually excited about finding a job! Because now I realise it's my choice and not just a reaction to needing money.
Although it may sound counterintuitive, my letting go of needing to have it all sorted (especially in business) has allowed me a whole new sense of freedom to seek work that is meaningful to me.
I'm not going to go back to what I know, I'm going to move forward into something I can grow into. I have a multitude of skills that I can make great use of and I no longer need to make it hard for myself.
I had no idea that choice and freedom lay at the bottom of the ability to Let Go and simply wear a new emotional wardrobe. In my case, permission to not know how to fix my own problem but to simply let it unfold, which in turn is enabling me to find new choices and an incredible new sense of inner peace.
All I ever needed to do to find that was to be completely useless! Well, not completely, but you get what I mean. I just needed to give myself permission to Be All Of Me, not just the bits that I thought were "good" and that deserved a pat on the back.
No, true inner peace lies in allowing ourselves to be Everything We Are. Including the parts that can't cope, have no idea about budgets and who simply want to let go and ask someone else to sort it out for us. (Well, at least sometimes!).
Choose love xxx