Here in our wild, hipster city of “Portlandia”, we’ve been playing the snow game for the last month. It’s really not something we do often, even though many of my clients across the country believe we have tons of snowfall here in the pacific NW. Most of us secretly cross our fingers for the ½ inch that we’re lucky to get, knowing full well that it will shut down our city, close the schools and give us all an excuse to do a whole hell of a lot of nothing and enjoy it!
Today, we’re digging out of a good foot of the white stuff, celebrating that our power is back on and seem to be a little shell shocked as we look out the window, wondering if we can navigate our cars to work, the store or out to meet friends.
As we moved into the first day of this, I watched an interesting thing play out: even as adults, people were getting pretty squirrely about how to make important “calls” for themselves when it came to personal decisions around their wellbeing.
Will they keep the store open? Will they try everything they can to get into work? Will they stay put as the television announcers are advising? This comes off of a holiday period where other important considerations were being made. Will I go to the cocktail party when I hate that everyone drinks too much? Can I fit in all three events that Saturday so that no one feels left out?
I’ve been reflecting over the last few days about what I see as two competing “camps” we all seem to fall into and noticed that I’ve stood firmly in both of these myself, at different times in my life. They seem to be:
Camp 1 – The Kickass
The Kickass gal / guy is driven by the sense that it’s important to show themselves and others that they are strong enough to deal with things, push through and rise to the occasion. They have a “get-er-done” attitude and pride themselves on not taking the easy way out. They’re the friend who laughs on the phone when you say your sore throat is going to keep you from the concert you’ve been looking forward to for a month or the colleague who tells you to get dressed because they’re in their SUV and will swing by and get you if you feel like you can’t “handle” driving in the snow.
The upside – I’ve been this person in my younger years and watch myself move in and out of it now. There’s a very cool, empowered energy that surrounds this kind of attitude and it creates more and more accomplishments. When we “think” we can and discipline ourselves to “do” what feels like a stretch, it confirms that we have the stuff we need to be all we want to be.
The downside – A person can not only burn themselves out, but easily begin “doing” at the expensive of “being” and inadvertently start putting themselves and relationships second to accomplishing things. Many are actually striving in this way because they are quietly fearful of what other’s will “think” if they say they can’t do something or don’t show up. The image of the “can do!” person is held onto so tightly there’s no room left for an actual decision to be made. It becomes a “have to” to feel good about themselves, with no actual choice seen.
Camp 2 – The Honorer
This gal / guy is at a point in their lives where they’ve decided they have nothing to prove and are going to check in, then do what works best for them. They’ve gotten fairly good at not worrying about the “opinion of others”, taking into account all the deciding factors and erring on the side of their own personal well-being. Most have no angst after a choice is made and go about the rest of their day focusing on what they want to engage in, regardless of whether someone is pushing them to change their mind, guilt tripping them a bit or letting them know who else was able to “rise to the occasion” when they did not.
The upside – I’ve also been this person in my life, landing the majority of the time here, now. But not always. The beauty of this stance is that it can come from a deep place of honoring the self, our desires, our well-being in all its many forms (emotional/mental/physical/spiritual). It can be a lovely thing to take all the “shoulds” and concern about what someone will think about us out of an equation and simply ask ourselves “What feels like the best choice for me, right now?” Many times life flows which greater ease, along with a sense of inner calm and peace when the striving/pushing/accomplishing is taken out.
The downside - At times, I see a way (and have experienced this myself in the past) that moving immediately to what we call an “honoring of the self” is a way to actually just take the easy way out. Fear may drive it. Maybe we secretly were a bit worried that there would be no one interested in talking to us at the party. Or we’ve fallen into bad evening habits of eating crap and watching junk TV for long enough that it actually feels challenging to get off our butts and go have meaningful connections with others. Thinking only about what works for us can easily slip over into a self-centered way of being without us even realizing it. We can hold on to a spiritual view of “listening deeply to our own longings” while using that as a way to avoid responsibility, moving toward our goals, or even just plain having some much needed FUN!
Here’s what’s worked for me. Commit to taking the time in those moments when you are faced with making a decision, to stop, pause and breath.
“What’s my initial hit here? What response/reaction do I have and does it feel habitual?”
“Am I scared, worried or concerned about anything that is coloring my decision?”
“What choice would offer me a way to stretch myself in an area that needs a bit of growth?”
I’d love to hear what your process is and if you, like me, have spent time in both of these camps over the years! What moved you out of one and into the other?