How do you break free and detox your emotional life? How do you get back in control?
Take the big-picture view. Find a moment to be alone in a safe, supportive location, and take some deep breaths to relax a bit. Close your eyes and visualize floating above yourself, zooming up until you’re all the way in the atmosphere of the planet, leaving your emotions down on the ground. In your mind’s eye, look down at yourself from orbit. You’re stepping out of the whole mess and looking back at it. What do you notice about yourself? How are you behaving? Do you like what you see? What would someone else notice about the situation? Step outside yourself and take an objective view.
In the case of me and Holly, I was shocked when I realized I was going behind her back and complaining to others (something I am still not proud of). I did not like this picture of myself, and it was truly eye-opening to see it.
Do the math. How much of your time and energy are you spending dealing with or responding to the person or situation?
When I was most angry and frustrated with Holly, I was stunned to find that I was spending up to 2 hours a day (at least 10 hours a week) either dealing with her, complaining about her, or just being angry.
Ask yourself the important questions.
- Is it worth it to stay in this situation/relationship? (The answer might be “yes,” especially if it is time-limited.)
- What is best for me?
- What are my goals or purpose for this relationship/situation, and are they being met?
- What else could I do with that time and energy?
- If I was just dropped into this situation or relationship today, without having known all the history that precedes it, would I still be in it?
- If I met this person today, would I like him or her?
- What am I tolerating here that isn’t serving me?
A friend of mine broke off a toxic friendship when she sat down to dinner with the person and thought, “If I met you today, I wouldn’t like you enough to get to know you better.” Another colleague asked herself, “How many times are you going to let this happen to you before you stop being in this situation?”
During a session with Meg, I asked her what her purpose was for being involved with her son’s soccer team parents group. Her reply was that it was so her son could have fun. When I asked if the current situation was helping her achieve that goal, she said, “No, it’s not,” with a noticeable sound of wonder in her voice as this realization came to her. Getting back to her primary goals helped her see clearly how the situation was draining her energy, getting her off track, and not supporting her son’s enjoyment of the sport. She was able to gracefully extract herself without hurting anyone else’s feelings, and she retained a sense of clarity and peace throughout the process.
Tomorrow: More important questions, and a strategy for getting clear.