stop fixing: why its necessary to stay in the muck

September 07, 2016

opendoors

Even after (nearly) ten years of writing here, the generosity and kindness offered by you dear reader, feels bloody amazing! I’ve been mulling over the deluge of messages, ‘me toos’, ideas, suggestions and virtual hugs for how to shift out of The Funk of the Lonely Extrovert.

And I’m also trying to live what I suggest to coaching clients:

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to solve problems, even especially when it feels uncomfortable.

If like me, your approach to any problem involves rolling up your sleeves and getting on with fixing it, you might find that this is a mighty useful way of avoiding discomfort. But it can also rob us of really understanding, learning and growing from the actual cause of the aforementioned problem.

You may also find yourself adopting a ‘scattergun’ approach to the fixing, which is certainly more exhausting than just being curious about your experience.

It always feels like being in pain is wrong. I don’t buy that.

Sadness, anger, fear, doubt, worry: these are not signs of anything other than that you are a human who is currently alive.

These emotions are all invitations to poke around inside the pain, hold it up to the light, see what’s made of. Question it, be interested in it.

And dude, this work is not for the faint-hearted. I spent decades avoiding anything that felt remotely shitty; it cost me love and friendship, much cash, the memory of at least a dozen nights and a big dollop of pride.

Now, I try to be braver. And sitting in the muck, getting to know it while trying not to judge or fix it, is still the thing I find most tricky.

Here’s what I am learning about this particular problemo:

  • I am hungry for real connection, rather than the company of other humans.
  • I have a tonne of assumptions and prejudices about what connection ‘should’ look like.
  • I have some resistance to getting out there, being open and available for connection.
  • I am wary of being hurt by the Charming Narcissistic Energy Vampires masking as the Super-cool, Compassionate and Smart Humans (these folks are my kryptonite).
  • There is also a pinch of anxiety that I will be too much (and therefore disliked, abandoned).
  • It feels like old pain, old patterns, old stories. Yada yada yada.
  • Leaning into all of this vulnerability makes me want to eat the house.

However, allowing this to bubble to the surface has been revealing and boring and powerful and annoying.

I don’t like it much. But it feels true.

There is always some acceptance and ease that comes from uncovering truth.

It feels like a softening, an unclenching somewhere in my belly. It’s easier to be a bit kinder to the tender parts of me. And I feel less urgency to finding a solution.

So. This is where I got to when something truly weird and slightly magic happened. I will be blogging about this experience very soon; it really deserves its own post!

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15 Responses to “stop fixing: why its necessary to stay in the muck”

  1. Debra says:

    Wow – your timing is amazing! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling. For most of my life I’ve numbed every and any form of discomfort and any problem would inspire a whole action plan on excel to “get it sorted”. As I approach 50 and feel totally exhausted, I’m beginning to see that this approach has not served me well. I’m discovering meditation properly for the first time and relishing and struggling the whole light touch approach to pain. Acceptance is not coming easily but I’m learning. Thanks as always Sas xx

  2. Rae Ritchie says:

    Sitting with the discomfort has definitely thrown up some difficult truths for me but also the greatest revelations about my life. It’s like finding diamonds when your face is in the dirt. Good to know I’m not alone – and also good to know that someone else recognises pain is sometimes a necessary part of life. Thanks Sas x

  3. Michelle R says:

    Great post, Sas! I love Einstein’s quote ‘it’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer’ and I blogged about it here: http://wp.me/pW697-Bx
    I find that there is something to learn from our struggles.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Helen says:

    Oh My God Woman! This so juicy and rich, you’re firing on all cylinders while sitting present to all that truth holds for you. Blimey girl! This post rings very true right now. So looking forward to hearing about the “weird followed by the magic”. Love H&Hxx

  5. Shalagh says:

    I found myself scrabbling and snatching at the end of July and shut it all down and listened. What I found after a time of quiet awkwardness, was that I was desperately trying to control how certain people viewed me. I had wanted to be enough, do enough, look important. I had wanted them to say yes to my proposal. I put my value back into my own pocket firmly. So two days ago, when I got turned down for that proposal, I was truly OK. Because it wasn’t about me. I was shocked that I’d learned that. Your voice is always validating to others in it’s vulnerability. No doubt,your next post will show that once again .
    Love,
    Shalagh

  6. Phil says:

    Great post Sas, and I can relate to a lot of it, particularly being wary because you’ve trusted the wrong people in the past and been hurt, and that you’ll be too much for some people and be rejected – I’ve battled those demons for a long time. And you’re right, it is old pain, and frankly gets very boring (!), so I’ve been consciously working on it. Interestingly, ten years ago I started getting OK with being uncomfortable, in the sense of pushing my own personal boundaries of what I thought I was capable of…but in my relationships I’m still not great with it! I struggle with confrontation and telling people when I’m unhappy about something they’ve done/said. When I have managed to do it, it has never gone well because these people are, as you described, energy vampires that first appeared in my life disguised as super cool humans, but it turned out not so much! And in my desire to be a nice person, which I was always taught was an important thing to be, I’ve swallowed hurt, anger, pride and fear and ‘let things go’ (i.e. kept them buried inside like lead weights, the opposite of letting go!). But I’m thirty-freaking-five now and I’m too old for the drama, so I’ve been getting better at drawing boundaries with people and saying “no, that’s not OK”. There’s always resistance and push back, which makes me very uncomfortable, but I’m getting better at “unclenching”, as you say. On the other side of discomfort is the knowledge I have been true to myself, which is, like you, a desire for real connection with people who light me up inside as opposed to feeling I have to be friends with everyone that crosses my path. It has taken all my adult life to get to this point but this is clearly what I’m here to learn! Thank you for writing this, I’m glad it’s not just me. Looking forward to hearing your next instalment, I’m deeply intrigued! x

    • Sas says:

      Phil! How amazing to see your comment here *chuffed face*.
      You know the way you wrote in your book about navigating those friendships that went sour after you stepped into your bigness, was such a balm to me.
      I felt you wrote with such thoughtful grace and it was clear you were being respectful to them but mostly to you.
      And yes to true, deep, real connection with respectful boundaries – those are the friends worth waiting for πŸ™‚

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