The #1 Thing Your Soul Needs
Many people are at war with themselves. A bold statement I know— but I’ve been there. It was 1998, my life was falling apart before my eyes, or so I thought. It felt real and it was real.
My two-decade long marriage was falling apart and my upbringing was at war with what I was feeling and what I knew I had to do to save my sanity. I was allowing those “church” voices saying, “He’s really a good man,” “He didn’t mean it….” and “He’s a good provider…” to consume me. “How can you do that to your family?” I heard over and over, but in my heart I knew I had to do just “that” to save myself and my family.
The shaming head-chorus wouldn’t stop, even though I’d left the church ten years prior. Late one night, driving home in a pounding rainstorm, the pivotal mind-battle began. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing and then it happened, I could barely see – the rain was coming down in sheets….
Knowing I had to survive for my sons, I made my way to the side of the road and thought I was going to die, right then and there. It felt like it went on forever. It was the longest and loneliest 30 minutes of my life.
When you think you are dying you make many a life altering decision — the most profound that night was to stop trying to control everything.
All I wanted was to feel safe…
In that instant, I made a decision. And it seemed like a strange decision, but I chose to let it go, I just “dropped.” Dropped physically, emotionally and all the thoughts just dropped out of my head….
I couldn’t control everything!
Letting go is something I’d heard of, I’d even read a book or two, but never really understood what it meant. Clearly, just not “feeling-it” was not the answer as I couldn’t stop “feeling shame, guilt, despair, worry, despise…the list is endless and the corresponding emotions(s) dependent on what I thought I had or had not done properly, correctly, harshly, tactless, another endless list my mind-inventions were so talented at conjuring up. Letting go seemed magical and I didn’t know the trick.
I’d tried to let go numerous times before only to have that head chorus of “what-abouts,” “should-coulda-woulda-haves,” and all my other numerous well meaning intentions and pre-determined outcomes gone awry start singing at the top of their lungs once again. I REALLY wanted it to be different — I had every intention, it would be different, this time, or the next time….
Yet, Intentions Are Not Enough
It’s not the emotions you are to let go of… it’s okay to have emotions. It’s how you respond to those emotions that is critical.
It’s also all those pre-formulated intentions, outcomes and the ultimate illusion of control especially where others are involved that are crazy-making. Intentions and outcomes all-to-often come with expectations you’ve created — expectations require control to come true.
I can only control myself and set my FOCUS, not intentions, on doing the very best I can, in the situation I’m in and /or with the permission I have with other(s). Sometimes, I just don’t have permission… consider The key is setting your FOCUS.
Focus is fluid, it’s easy to readjust your focus and for me, creates an easier path to “focus” on the other person(s) needs and wants instead of trying to create a specific outcome.
Focus also works to create what is known as the dissociated state. (The word dissociation can also be used to describe a wide array of experiences from mild detachment to more severe detachment from the physical and emotional experience(s).)
Here, I’m using the term as the ability to step outside yourself and observe from a neutral position. When I think about this ability to step outside yourself and view from an emotionally neutral position, it is where you can see yourself and the other(s) as if viewing a scene from a play, so you can be empathic but aren’t emotionally involved. Whereas, in an associated state, the thoughts, feelings, emotions are all yours, intense and real. It’s difficult to see other options, more opportunities and other people’s point of view from an associated state.
While sitting on the side of the road, time moved slow and quick all at the same time. In an instant I shifted from outcome of control to letting go. It was instant clarity. Options open before my eyes… and in that moment, when all I heard was myself gasping for breath, I heard a voice ask me two questions:
- What part of this is yours; what part of this can you really control? “Only me, only how I choose to react…” flashed through my head.
- If that is true, whose permission are you waiting for?