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When life gets challenging the temptation is to blow it all up and start over. Real change happens when we change the foundation of our lives rather than just re-arranging the clouds.
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Hi, and welcome. You are listening to the Stories From a Quest to Live Happier Podcast, and I’m your host Nancy Jane Smith.
I’m a licensed professional counselor, and in this podcast, I share my stories and lessons I’ve learned, and I continue to learn on my quest to live happier. The show notes and the complete transcript can be found at live-happier.com/podcast. This is episode 43. You Don’t Have to Blow It All Up.
Hey there and welcome. I’m so excited to be back at it again. I feel like I say that every time. I tend to do a couple every week, and then I lose some steam, and so I’m really hoping to recommit to this and push through the holidays before I take a little break in December. It’s been over a year since I’ve been doing podcasting, which is very exciting and I’m so glad you guys have been here on the ride with me and have been sharing these podcasts. This is one area where I get so much feedback, so it makes it really fun to continue to do these podcasts and to show up and share my little stuff. My words of wisdom.
Today I want to talk about you don’t have to blow it all up. The reason that is the title is I really am talking about making changes and the pattern I’ve seen recently in my office and just looking around at life in general, there seems to be a lot of sweeping generalizations about that we need to be living these big bold lives and making major statements and telling our stories and showing up authentically. Get out there and do big things.
While all that is great and fabulous. Whenever I hear a client come into my office and say you know they’re ready to blow it all up, meaning they’re ready to leave their husband and move out west, or they’re going to quit their job and work for a coffee shop. They have these dreams of doing things completely opposite of what it is they’re doing right now. It really makes me want to pause and be like what’s really going on here because when we’re trying to make changes, sometimes we convince ourselves it will be easier if we blow it all up.
For example, let’s take a crappy marriage. So you’re in your marriage, and it’s not going so great, and you’re really struggling. You look at your friends who are divorced and have gotten through their divorces, and they’re living the single life, and you think, I don’t have to take care of anyone if I get divorced. It will be so amazing. I’ll just have all this time. I just need to get out of this marriage. I’m just going to blow it all up and do my own thing. Yes, that might be true that eventually once you get through the divorce and the pain of losing a relationship and not having someone in your life and the struggle and all that good stuff, you might get to a place where you only have to take care of yourself, and that would be fantastic.
Then you get to that place, and you’re like, oh, now I only have to take care of myself, and this is kind of lonely. I wish I had someone else here to take care of because now I’m just dealing with myself. The saying of wherever you go there you are is one saying that I think of a lot and that plays out in this, you don’t have to blow it all up phrase, in the sense of when you blow it all up and you leave the marriage, and you get out, and you’re by yourself, you’re still the person that was in the marriage. If you haven’t made any real changes to yourself, then you’re just the person that was in the marriage that was unhappy. Now you’re the person that’s single and unhappy because although your husband may be causing some of your problems, he’s not causing all of them.
When we get in this tendency to blow it all up, it’s a place of blame. That it is the jobs fault that I’m miserable. It’s my husband’s fault that I’m miserable. It’s the where I live’s fault that I’m miserable. It’s that it’s cold and I hate being cold. Although those things do play out, they aren’t the soul reason. If you are looking to make some changes and your temptation is to blow it all up, I want to take you back a little bit to do some simple questions to ask yourself. They’re not really simple. But what I think are foundational questions to make changes because if you’re in a marriage and you’re getting ready to … You know you’re done, and you decide you want to get divorced, then you need to start making the changes on yourself in the marriage now, even though it’s ending. You need to figure out how to do you differently even if the marriage is over because the next relationship you get into, if you haven’t learned those lessons, it’s going to be exactly the same.
We repeat until we learn what do I need to change here. The questions I want you to think of if you’re thinking of making blowing it all up, and these changes are … When clients come to see me they’re like I want to find a new job, or I want to leave my husband, or I want to, they want to make big sweeping changes. That’s why they’re coming in to see me, but what we do is take it back to the basics. The question I ask them frequently is, “What do you value in your life now?” If you look at your relationship, just to stick with that example, what is it you value in your life, what are your life’s values, and how is this relationship serving those values, and how is this relationship not serving those values?
If the relationship is not serving your values, or you aren’t living a life based on your values, what changes can you make within the relationship that would get you to practice doing that? Let’s say you’re in a relationship, you’re miserable, you hate it. One of the things that you really value is adventure. But that’s not showing up in your life right now. You’re kind of stuck in a rut; you’re doing the same things over and over again. But you really value adventure. The small changes that you can make are to start adding more adventure to your life. To start showing up in different ways in your life from taking a different way to work to taking a skydiving lesson. Taking a trip out west. Trying on that adventure piece that your really want to try while you’re in the relationship. Not waiting for when the relationship gets blown up, then I’ll do all these great big things. Because it’s easier to do all these little changes that you want to make within the relationship.
If you want to add more adventure to your life, and your really thinking oh it’s because this job is miserable and I hate my job. I bet if you added more adventure to your life, the job wouldn’t be so miserable. Maybe still be miserable. You might still need to leave. But it wouldn’t be as miserable.
Being able to tweak your life in these little tiny ways is really adds the changes that we may be seeking in our lives. The first question is what do you value? The second question is, what do you need? What do you need out of your life? You can look at your values, and then play them out. Just say okay, I value adventure, so I need to take more risks in my life. Or I value connection, so I need to work on my friendships. Or I value human touch, so I need to work on a way to find that. I need to ask for that more, or I need to get massages more. Or I need to do something where my husband gives me a hug, and I implement a let’s hug each other every morning. Or something along those lines. These small little changes sometimes can seem insurmountable, and that is why we have the tendency to want to blow it all up.
If I blow it all up, then I don’t have to deal with these little tiny individual little changes because you know what happens when we start making these little tiny individual changes? Our inner critic chimes in. When the inner critic chimes in it’s like why are you doing this different, want to work? This is so silly. Why are we taking this skydiving? This is so silly. That is the real work. That, dealing with that little voice as you make small changes in your life, that’s when you start making radical changes. Because when you can stand up to your inner critic and quiet your inner critic as you start living a life that’s more intentional, and more authentic, and the more you fully living in your life with that integrity. The more you start doing that, the more your inner critic’s going to chime in a. Then the more you can learn strategies to deal with that, so when there comes a time, and you have to make a major change in your life, you will have better strategies for dealing with those little tiny shifts that happen.
The first question is asking what do you value? The second question is asking what do you need? And then the third question is where do I need to show up? What am I avoiding? Am I avoiding asking for something? Am I avoiding conflict? Am I avoiding showing up for myself? Am I avoiding someone else? A lot of times when we have this tendency that we want to blow it all up, we’re not showing up. We think if I just make this big sweeping decision, then everything will be better. That usually isn’t the case because we need to show up for our own lives. We need to show up with integrity and ask for what we need and live by our values, and make those choices, day in and day out, all the time.
One of the biggest things I hear is, and I’ll use my husband and I as examples a lot in some stories that I tell, and people will say, “Oh my gosh, I really wish I had your husband”, or “I wish I had your relationship, like you’re so lucky.” I am very blessed to have the relationship that I have and we show up every day, or most days. We make little tiny decisions every day to be intentional, to ask for what we need, to call each other out when we’re not present. To live by our values. Those little tiny shifts in how can I show up today? How can I really be living by my values? How can I ask for what I need? That’s when we make real changes in life. That’s when stuff shifts for us.
Yes, the idea of living authentically and being, you know I call it living in the clouds, like I’m going to make all these changes down here and up here, I’m going to make all these changes up here, and life’s going to be great. No. It doesn’t happen. We need to be making the bedrock changes. The changes in our foundation and those changes come by asking ourselves what do I value? What do I need? Where do I need to show up in my life? What am I avoiding? What am I not asking for? What can I do today to be more intentional, to live with more integrity, to really be present? How can I really show up?
I do this a lot in my life. I’ll get stressed, or I’ll get, you know. And I’ll think oh my gosh, I’m just going to blow it all up. I’m going to move, you know we’re going to travel around the country, we’re going to get in an RV, and we’re just going to blow it all up. Then I ask myself, where do you need to show up? What are you avoiding here? Nine times out of ten, I’m not showing up for life. I’m skating through. I’m being a zombie. I’m just kind of going through the motions.
When I can bring myself back to, okay, what changes do I need to make? Where do I need to show up? Where can I start paying attention more? It clicks, and those shifts start happening. I really encourage you to start looking at your day to day life, and where can you show up more. I swear it will change the way you shift everything. When we start shifting the bedrock of our lives, rather than rearranging the clouds, it gets better because we start shifting stuff and we actually are living happier. I promise. Try it. Let me know how it goes.
Weekly Ritual Segment:
One thing that has really helped me Live Happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life so each week I am going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenge you to complete it
The Taillight Challenge
This week’s ritual is called the taillight challenge. I heard about this when I was in a meditation conference that I took a couple weeks ago. The beauty of this is it happens when your in traffic, which is usually the time when we’re most stressed and most just ready to get out of there. When we’re stuck in traffic to simply look at the tail lights in front of you. Take a few deep breaths, relax and breathe and just watch the changing lights of the tail lights in front of you. It’s a great way to really focus down on what’s happening in the moment and just take some breaths and relax. Get some little mindfulness through the day. Take a break. Check out some tail lights.
That is the show. Thanks for listening. The Stories From a Quest to Live Happier Podcast comes out every week. I absolutely love hearing from you. Please e-mail me at email@example.com. Until next time, here’s to living happier.
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