Some version of the following message comes to me almost weekly through a coaching group I’m affiliated with, who works with couples in crisis.
Here was a typical one from this morning:
“For years, she has told me what she needed from me and I didn't listen because I thought she would always be here. I didn't see it then, that I really was the problem. But now I do. I'm ready to talk and make our relationship a priority but she says it’s too late. She’s not angry. She just doesn’t care anymore.”
We’re interesting human beings, aren’t we?
Why don’t we listen when someone we care about is trying to tell us they are unhappy or that things aren’t working well? Or when we know we need to change something in our lives or with our own behavior?
It’s fascinating that so many individuals will wait until they are in excruciating pain before they consider doing something different. With this group of people, there is a sentence most of them use at some point in our initial intake session –
“I’ve had a serious wake-up call.”
I’ve had many a “wake-up” call in my own life. Early on, they were incredibly painful because like many of my clients, I had ignored the problem, numbed out or purposely stayed in denial long enough that the Universe had to shake me VERY hard to get my attention. I had a marriage end because of my inability to take some big childhood wounding seriously and start the healing process. I lost an un-godly amount of money to a non-profit who needed a “loan” because I stayed in denial about what I sensed was becoming a problem. My hand was forced in taking out a restraining order on a previous partner because I ignored the fact that I needed to end the relationship a year in and just kept hanging in there.
There are important things to learn from these “throw downs” and one is to listen hard to what is trying to get your attention early on. To honor that still small voice within, your intuition, is to allow this beautiful, ongoing change process of life to come with more ease and much less pain.
Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Have a daily practice that includes sitting in the silence for at least 5 minutes so you can truly listen to the subtle messages trying to get your attention. Ask yourself what you are avoiding and why?
- Work to maintain an open heart that feels empathy and compassion for yourself and for others. This is the only way you will care about what another is trying to share with you and be open to change.
- Cultivate a “growth mindset.” Individuals who see their lives as a journey of continually “awakening” change with more ease and MUCH less struggle. When we commit to our own personal growth, it’s so much easier to allow another to influence us along the way.
- Take time weekly to think about (or journal) what you are grateful for in your life and make absolutely sure you are putting time, energy, attention and love towards these things, NOW.
Ask yourself how you would feel if this went away completely beginning tomorrow – you walked into an empty house and divorce papers on the dining room table, you were diagnosed with something scary, your closest friend ended the friendship because you weren’t holding up your end, the amazing person you were dating called it off because you didn’t listen to them say your drinking was causing a problem.
A “wake-up call?” I challenge you to embrace one right now instead of waiting for one to be forced upon you!
Think about what are you ready to have a whole new way of thinking about, and then share with us here. What “ah-ha!” are you ready to do something about? Yes, we can do this “different” and the first step is to open our eyes, ears and hearts to what is trying to awake us up!
No 2 x 4’s needed.