We never know exactly when they will come or what they will look like, but life has a this really (un)predictable way of throw us some curveballs when we least expect them. How you prepare for them and how you handle them when they arrive are things that you can work on though. So what do you do?
Think back on your life and remember all the bumps in the road that you experienced so far. Hopefully there aren't too many. The point is you're still here. You're still moving forward. No matter how bleak the event in your life may have been, you made it through in one way or another. Our ability to adapt is really amazing and it's something that we have to be able to tap into.
My daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac and now we have to banish gluten from both my and her mother's household. We have to reconfigure how we eat and what we cook and don't cook. Not a huge thing in the grander scheme of things. It is however a big change for us personally. I like to look at the bright side. The good news is that we now know what was wrong with our daughter and are taking corrective steps to fix it.
Adaptability. It all comes back to that. If the diagnosis for her had been worse, we would have dealt with that too. My goal is to not let the situation (curveball) mire me in a cycle of 'I can't believe this is happening,' since that doesn't do anybody any good.
Regardless of what you are going through, know that you are not alone and you will get through it. Others have and you have gotten through things in your past as well. Take solace from that and always move forward.
I am very grateful to have the good relationship that I have with my daughter's mom (I hate to call her an 'ex' anything). It often feels hard to explain and seems so far from the 'norm.' There shouldn't be a norm. Coexisting in a very conscious state of mutual respect is the only way that I can imagine divorce being tolerable and not an excruciating life experience.
This state is always something that I have had trouble putting into words. I recently saw an article in the NY Times that sums it up excellently. Please give this a read and see what you take away from it. It is possible. There is a conscious choice involved. I have heaps of respect for these folks, and I'm personally delighted to be living in a very similar scenario.
An Optimists Guide to Divorce from 11/24/17
This time of year is rife with expectations. If you are a kid, you have aspirations of presents for the holidays. If you are an adult, you have an expectation of your family and how they handle themselves, what they do, if they send you a Christmas card and so on. The bottom line is that the more expectations we have of others, the higher our chance to be disappointed. What do I mean? Well, when we try to anticipate the actions of people we don't control, we will invariably not be able to predict accurately. People do things that are unexpected. We can, however, choose how we react when that happens. I'm proposing to dial back our expectations. The natural byproduct of this will be less disappointment. Conversely, when people do something sweet, we'll view it in higher regard since we weren't 'expecting' it in the first place.
It's a change in mindset. When you load up on expectations, and people fail to meet them, then you start to view the world in a very dark and cynical way, and that doesn't do anybody any good. You likely know some people like that.
Keep in mind too that we don't ever have full insight into other people's lives. We don't know what they are going through and what they may be struggling with. For us to base resentment on a limited base of knowledge isn't fair. We also shouldn't categorize everything that doesn't go as we anticipated as some slight or transgression against us.
Keep an open mind this holiday season. Just be you and let others be themselves. It doesn't always pan out the way we expect or hope but, that has to be ok. The more comfortable we can be with that, the happier we will be.
A client said "Circumstance is everything" in a session we were having the other day. I immediately wrote it down since it resonated with me. It really is true. Much in the same way that sometimes we put ourselves in harm's way without knowing it...we also put ourselves in the path of success. Seemingly small and random decisions can compound to create a big impact without that having been our intention.
Although I'm a firm believer that we need to seek success and work hard to find it, it can occasionally come down to just dumb luck that we send the right email or someone notices a shirt we are wearing and strikes up a conversation, which leads to a meeting and a potential business deal. This is all so maddeningly random. It's kind of like when we actively seek out a partner in life and put our profiles on dating sites and send out messages to people, meet for drinks and so on. We're doing all the right things to create opportunities.
You know what happens though. It's the birthday party we almost said no to going to that leads to meeting a person that will profoundly change our lives. Circumstance truly is everything.
I was reading a question from someone regarding what one should or shouldn't sacrifice in a relationship. For me the succinct answer is simply that you shouldn’t sacrifice ‘Yourself’. Be you…stay you. People who want you to change or be different in any way don’t really appreciate you as you are. If someone doesn't appreciate you, then why would you want to be with them?
In my life I have seen a lot of people mold and shape themselves to be the ideal partners for their respective significant other. Why? It’s like you’re saying that you’re not good enough. Relationships are partnerships and in a partnership there is compromise but, not fundamental change of who we are and how we identify as human beings.
The whole notion of being compatible with someone stems from the other person being a lot like you and that you are a good match. It’s not about becoming a good match with the other person. The further you move away from your true self the harder you'll struggle feeling good about that.
Be cognizant if you are doing more than just compromising. If instead you are really giving up a part of your core identity. You may keep your partner that way…however, it’s not worth losing your self over. No reasonable partner can or should ever expect that kind of self sacrifice from you either.
I was listening to NPR (WNYC) yesterday and happened upon a fascinating interview with a Dr. Robert Lustig. He's a professor of pediatrics. His new book is about how we have all been hijacked by cell phones, technology and marketing plus how we are deliberately being manipulated by large corporations.
As a father of a 12 year old daughter, I'm very alert to what cell phone usage can and may be doing to her. As an adult we have a healthy dose of self control and are (usually) better able to control our use of technology. Children don't necessarily have that ability yet. Access to technology is to a large extent killing creativity in children because every form of entertainment is instantly accessible via their screens. I have instituted screen free Sundays here in my household and it's actually a very rewarding shift since my daughter and I tend to do more things that we used to do when she was younger (and without a phone): cook, craft, play games, read and get outdoors.
The most disturbing part of the information that Dr. Lustig provided was this notion of 'pleasure' and 'happiness'. They are two distinct things that are handled distinctly in our brains. We are constantly on the quest for happiness but, are being led down that path by short term doses of pleasure. Constant checking of social media feeds and hyper connectivity provide us with those pleasure triggers. This is very similar to pushing the button on the slot machine and that little kick it provides each and every time to the gambler. Our pleasure centers are overloaded but, no where in there is there any happiness. Happiness can't come from a thing, website or shopping experience. The messaging and marketing we are constantly exposed to though always seeks to blur pleasure with happiness by directly promoting 'happiness' when in fact 'pleasure' is being promoted (i.e. in the form of a sugary soda...no happiness in that bottle).
This makes a lot of sense to me when I see people dissatisfied with their lives. Happiness is very elusive and we seek it in all the wrong ways. It's easy to confuse short term pleasure with happiness since. Pleasure can only ever be finite where as the goal of happiness is a long term steady state. This manifests itself all over the place in our relationships, ability to communicate, and how connected we actually feel to the rest of the world. Understanding this trap is important and makes it less confusing thereby allowing us to take steps to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones from this cycle.
It seems completely counterintuitive to be lonely in a relationship but, it happens fairly often. I've spoken to several people lately and this notion has come up a few times. This loneliness is a result of a disconnect between you and your partner. Sometimes this is temporary...sometimes these feelings are long term and even deepen over time. Loneliness is very disconcerting and it's hard to call it what it is since it seems so unlikely to happen in a marriage or relationship.
What can you do about it? Realize what's happening and take some action to help remedy this. Something needs to change. Since a relationship is always two people, you likely own some piece of this. Communicate. Loneliness comes from the breakdown of communication. It's time for drastic action if it has come to this point.
If you can't talk to your significant other...talk to someone. Reach out to friends. Don't perpetuate this feeling since it's not good for the soul.
Last weekend my two somewhat disparate worlds merged. I consider myself both a life coach and a tiny house builder and I had the opportunity to exhibit the tiny house that I have been meticulously working on for the last 3 years. It was very comforting to be with like minded people and it underscored this notion of finding your ‘tribe’ for me. People who can appreciate you for who you are and what you have done.
I was very emotional during a lot of the event since I had not really received very much warm, positive, and genuine feedback on my tiny house. This wasn’t because people hadn’t liked it prior to the show, it was merely a byproduct of no one really having seen the house during the building process since that occurred deep in the woods of the Catskills Park in NY.
When random people simply walk up to you and shake your hand and say something like ‘you did a wonderful job,’ that is such a humbling moment. This scenario played out over and over again leaving me very happy and very drained.
Recognition for one’s efforts is an amazingly powerful thing. Acknowledgement of accomplishment is the fuel that drives us forward to achieve new things in our lives. This is precisely what coaching can do for people. My resolve around building more tiny houses and even coaching people who may be on the fence about building a tiny house is stronger than ever. What do you want to achieve?
If you want to see pictures of my tiny house, go to:
Definition of Sherpa
- a member of a Tibetan people living on the high southern slopes of the Himalayas in eastern Nepal and known for providing support for foreign trekkers and mountain climbers
I've been using this phrase of being a relationship sherpa in various places and as part of my elevator pitch. I thought it sounded cool and intriguing. What I've come to realize is that it's also a really good word to describe what I do.
In the traditional sense Sherpas support climbers in Nepal. The key though is in how they provide that support. The outfitter that sells the climbing gear supports the climbers as well by selling them the equipment they need. What they don't do though is go along for the journey and the climb.
Sherpas are right there alongside their clients and accompany them every step of the way. This is also how I see my role with my coaching clients. I stick with them until they achieve their goals. This is the key. Some people provide advice and others may step in and help with some aspect but it's only the Sherpa that's there for the whole journey.
I'm glad that I finally figured out why this resonated so well with me...
Took me a while to come to this conclusion but, I'm forging forward now. I have been writing a lot on Quora lately and that has been really great enjoyable and a good method for me to get my thoughts onto virtual paper. This has always been a bit of a challenge for me vs. speaking with people directly.
The book will be focused on collaborative divorce and will incorporate both personal experience as well as that of others. The goal is to provide guidance to those who are looking to end their marriage while retaining their sanity and respect for one another.
The details are still a bit fluid but, there will be more to share regarding this shortly.
I'm also actively seeking out contributors for this book. If you would like to be considered for inclusion and if you have a relevant story you want to share or know of someone that would be good to feature in this book, please let me know. Could be something as simple as a quote...we could do an interview...whatever works best.
The way to stay up-to-date is to sign up on my contact page and I will make sure that you don't miss out when a more concrete timeline gets put in place.