Letting go of an ambiguous loss is often the most challenging and important task we face.
At some point in our lives, we all experience it. Someone important to us isn’t willing to talk. Maybe we need to talk, but the other person needs not to. The more history involved and the higher our expectations for that relationship, the more painful their silence.
Painful events happen to all us. But our real problems arise when we attach to that pain.
Often we have this fantasy that somehow by holding on to our anger, the other person will magically decide to apologize and/or come back. As long as we hold on to our anger, we hold on to our hope. Or so we think.
But while you’re sitting there ruminating, the person in question may very well be out having a wonderful day at the lake. The simple fact that you’re the only one suffering, should be your own best argument for letting go.
Negative attachment is still attachment.
Anger is often the glue that keeps us stuck, expressed as an ongoing obsession about “why” this person has wronged us. It’s human nature to want to understand behavior. But the fact is, it’s hard enough to understand our own, let alone somebody else’s. And we simply can’t force another person to talk to us or own up to “the truth” as we see it.
Sometimes we just have to let go.
A sad ending doesn’t negate the value of a relationship. And while it takes two people to form an intimate relationship, it only takes one to end it.
We have to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.
It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
Have you ever noticed how your greatest moments of personal growth occur?
There’s a pattern to it, I’m convinced.
First, a challenge. A challenging life circumstance or situation. Something comes at us sideways when we least expect it. A loss. Break up. Health problem. We don’t feel equipped to handle it, yet somehow we do. We’re faced with an obstacle and we pull through.
But we haven’t grown yet.
Next comes vulnerability. We share our experience of this challenge with another person. In all of our raw honesty, we open ourself up to another. We share in our weaknesses and by doing so, we experience vulnerability.
Then we reflect. Only after a difficult challenge and shared vulnerability, can we pause to really reflect about what exactly we’ve just been through. What we’ve grown through. How we’ve grown. And in our reflection, finally, our great moment of personal growth arrives. Clothed in compassion and humility. Void of all judgment. An “Aha” moment.
Challenge. Vulnerability. Reflection. In that order.
I believe that all of our greatest personal growth experiences follow this pattern.
“I don’t have enough time.” Does the phrase sound familiar?
Of course it does! It’s an all too common compliant. We all think we don’t have enough time. It’s our great problem. Time urgency.
Or is it our great excuse?
What if we actually never have had a time problem? What if our real problem is with priorities?
The truth is, at the end of the day, we all do what matters most. PERIOD.
Often when we feel anxious or in a hurry, it’s simply because we’re not doing the one thing that we should be doing.
So let’s try to help each other. As the year draws to a close, and holiday season makes for busier and busier schedules, let’s map out our priorities. I challenge you to do this and then share your list of priorities with a trusted friend. Ask that person to hold you accountable. Then, watch as your daily tasks unfold with greater ease and your “lack of time” becomes less of an issue.
Cheers to doing better with priorities!
Here’s a fun exercise to try if you haven’t heard of it before:
Take a jar, a handful of rice (enough to fill the jar) and a handful of walnuts. If you put the rice in first and then the walnuts, you’ll find that there is not enough room in the jar for both. But if you put the walnuts in the jar first and then the rice, they both fit fine.
What’s the lesson?
The walnuts are our priorities. The things that matter most in life.
The rice is everything else. The small stuff. All of life’s little details.
When we do what matters most to us first, the rest of life kind of just falls into place. Life always works itself out when we have our priorities in line and we put our walnuts first.
I recently rescued a puppy and as dogs always do, she’s teaching me a lot about life. Dogs have countless lessons to teach us and I’ve written on this subject before, but puppies, I’m finding out, have even more!
As a rescue, I’m unaware of what life was like for my puppy before coming to me. She has a lot of trust and anxiety issues, as many rescue dogs do. I have another dog, who has been with me since he was born, and the three of us have been in constant negotiation since the new puppy’s arrival. It seems with every new experience, the dogs are working amongst themselves to figure out who’s the boss. Whether it’s a bed, chew toy, food, or my attention. They’ve spent the greater part of our first few weeks together determining which one of them gets what, and when. The puppy will even try to play this game with me. She wants to know who’s boss.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert.
“There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. ‘How much do you love me?’ And, ‘Who’s in charge?'” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love)
Raising a rescue puppy, or any animal for that matter, is confirmation of this truth. At our most basic and animalistic level, it really all boils down to this.
I recently completed Dr. Keith Sawyer’s book, Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the subject or curious about how to enhance their own creativity. (Visit his blog at keithsawyer.wordpress.com) In Zig Zag, Dr. Sawyer outlines a variety of exercises and tactics to help you along the creative process. He also provides valuable insight into the nature of the creative process itself. In his book, I learned some surprising things that exceptionally creative people all have in common. Below I have listed 10 things that you (probably) didn’t know about exceptionally creative people.
- Exceptional creators sleep more hours than the average person. (Harvard researcher Jeffrey Ellenbogen found that after sleep, people are 33% more creative!)
- Researchers have found that people who have lived in more than one country (multinationals, biculturals, immigrants ect.) are more creative.
- Exceptional creators aren’t born that way. Creativity is close to 80% learned and acquired (according to Hal Gregerson, a professor at INSEAD Business School).
- Successful creators are curious by nature. They ask questions and listen closely to the answers, even when the information has no obvious relationship to what they’re working on at the moment. In other words, exceptional creators are experts at “connecting the dots”.
- Exceptional creators are masters of the discipline of play, the ability to imagine and envision possible worlds and alternate realities.
- Most exceptional creators are working on multiple projects at a time. (They’re using these various areas of focus to make even more connections and thus advance their work!)
- Creative people are exceptionally self-aware. They are constantly reflecting on what they’re doing at any given moment and they’re constantly listening to themselves.
- Creative people work harder than most other people, usually at researching and acquiring new information. Paradoxically, they also take more time off.
- About 25% of the world’s most exceptional creators engaged in the creation of elaborate imaginary worlds as children. (So think twice next time you want to make fun of someone’s “imaginary friend”! 😉
- Exceptional creators make a conscious effort to introduce change into their lives, or to put themselves in situations in which they’re more likely to experience the unexpected.
I think it’s extremely important to have guiding principles in various areas of your life. Such principles keep you grounded and help you to see the bigger picture when it’s so much easier to get caught up in the small stuff. I decided to share with you my top 10 relationship principles. You can read them below. These relationship principles simply serve as grounding reference points in my day to day life. Also, one should note, they aren’t specific to romantic relationships. I try to implement these principles in all of my interactions, across a variety of relationships.
What are your relationship principles? Let me know in the comments section below!
- Be honest and direct in your communication. You’ll be amazed at how many problems you can avoid by being direct and honest in your communication.
- Show vulnerability. Don’t try to be perfect; it’s isolating.
- Be clear about what you need and ask for what you want. People aren’t mind readers, so don’t expect them to be.
- Be grateful. Appreciate how this person adds to your life. What if she/he were to disappear tomorrow?
- Remember that what the other person thinks, feels, and does isn’t any of your business. Your business is what you think, feel, and do as it pertains to him/her.
- If there’s an elephant in the room, point it out. The sooner, the better.
- Keep your humor. Life’s not that serious.
- Listen more, talk less. Other people are our greatest teachers when we allow them to be. We weren’t given two ears and one mouth for nothing!
- Prioritize the relationship needs over your own. Don’t forget that there are three parties to every relationship. You, the other person, and the relationship itself!
- BE PRESENT! Probably the most important one of all. How can you experience the joy of true connection if your mind, body, and/or spirit is elsewhere?
A good work of art, even a great one, speaks to people of a certain time.
However, a work of genius transcends temporal bounds. It is continuously rediscovered anew by successive generations. In other words, a work of genius isn’t static. It bends (and is bent by) each new audience that encounters it.
For example, the art of the Greeks and the Egyptians, is not art of the past. One could even argue that it is more alive today than ever before. As Pablo Picasso once said, “There is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present, it must not be considered art at all.”
Works of genius live in the now.
“Art always consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.” G.K. Chesterton.
Embrace your limitations.
“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines and music, you will automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry period in my life because I feed myself well.” – Ray Bradbury