Sunday, May 17, 2009
I am, by nature, a pessimist. I like to think of myself as a realist because pessimist has such a negative connotation to it but, given my true nature at this stage in life, I am a pessimist. I think through all possible outcomes to a given situation before I begin to ensure that I am best prepared for the worst. I know logically that this approach to life leads to many situations where I don't even begin because a high percentage of possible outcomes could be detrimental (from my perspective).
I believe that my approach to life is largely based on my childhood experiences and that, because of those experiences, I have developed a habit of wanting to avoid "bad" outcomes. I also think it is human nature, as part of our basic survival instincts, to avoid "pain" and go to pleasure or comfort.
I know that my approach, my habits, keep me from experiencing things in my life (painful or pleasurable) that will help me grow as a person. I know that my need to control each situation, to play out all the end scenarios and determine how to deal with each before I have even started keeps my opportunities for growth limited to the perspectives and experiences I have played out beforehand, needing to be within my acceptable range of outcomes.
I logically know this is how I operate (most times on auto pilot) and yet I find myself in the same set of circumstances over and over and over through life. Because, frankly, change can be difficult and it definitely requires me to be present in the moment. And how can I be present in the moment if I am constantly playing out every darn possible scenario in the universe (mostly the bad one's) that could occur in the future so that I can adequately prepare myself?
So, my tiny step this week is to start saying "Yes!" more in places where I might have otherwise said no. I did this yesterday when an opportunity presented itself to me in place of what I thought I wanted. Instead of saying no, that is not what I asked for, I said Yes! I will try that because it is here for me now.
I was listening to a podcast last week where they talked about putting down the oar that we use to paddle up river and instead go where the river leads you. A deep part of me sighed with HUGE relief at being able to "let go". Of course, another part of me went into panic mode. We are all so incredibly trained as part of our societal obligations to "take the bull by the horns", "lead the way", "take the initiative", "make it happen", "be the leader", etc. There is so much value in our society for being driven, controlling, perfectionist - it creates struggle many times because everyone is hearing the message to be the team coach and there is no one left to be the team. I find this many times in my professional life. Everyone wants to be viewed as the visionary, the leader, the top dog....there is no one left to do the work. Or, even worse for me, the one's left actually doing the work are viewed as order-takers that lack drive and motivation. Hello?
So, my little part this week is to be open to what is in front of me more (saying yes to the moment or opportunity) and letting go of the oars (just a little bit for now).