I was working with a group last week and the conversation came round to the number of times we move into “fix it mode”.
Most of the time, what the other person wants is to be listened to; to have a space to think out loud, and to find their own solutions, not to be given a solution. Many of the group said that they “didn’t have time” to listen to the whole story and would move into offering their solution at the first opportunity.
When projects fail, exam results are not what we hoped for, work is challenging or family life is stressful, we often try to escape the reality. We want life to be neat and to run smoothly, not only for ourselves, but for others too. We try to make it all better.
When we label something as negative, problematic or not working, we put a label of “wrong” on it, and we can often launch into the “fix it” approach. We label many of our emotions as faulty, wrong or bad. When we feel (or see someone else feeling) sad, angry, depressed or anxious, we want to resolve the situation, try to make it go away, to “make” them feel better. While Nayyirah Waheed, an African-American poet uses the term man in this short poem, it applies to all of us.
there have been so many times
I have seen a man wanting to weep
beat his heart until it was unconscious
We have moved from living our lives, from experiencing our reality in all it’s wonder, it’s rawness and uncertainty, to ‘managing’ our lives. We manage ourselves out of the reality of what is happening in our lives, into what we want it to be like. We cause ourselves to be disconnected from what is happening in trying to move towards what we would like to be happening. With this mindset, we care no longer available to listen to others reality either. We jump to how it “should” be.
What you should do is…
What you need to do is…
It would be easier if you…
You need to just think happy thoughts.
Full spectrum living means being fully connected to all aspects of our lives – the neat and the untidy parts. It means expanding our hearts and minds to embrace the possibilities within every situation and therefore becoming more of who we really are.
I invite you to reflect on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s wise words:
When we stop trying to force pleasant feelings,
They are freer to emerge on their own.
When we stop trying to resist unpleasant feelings,
We may find that they can drift away by themselves.
When we stop trying to make something happen,
A whole world of fresh and unanticipated
experiences may become accessible to us.