Life offers us all sorts of clues on our journey, but, over and over again we choose to ignore the clues. They don’t scream, yell, stomp or act out in a hissy fit. They aren’t easy evidence like in the game of “CLUE” where it’s obvious that it was Miss Scarlett in the library with the candlestick.
Life’s clues are quiet, hushed whispers on the wind, brushing by us with the hope we hear something we need to hear, see something we need to see.
I knew my marriage was tanking for a long time. I chose to ignore the clues because I believed I could soldier through and it was simply a blip that happens in all long term marriages. Having a partner totally withdraw mentally, spiritually and physically is a pretty good indication something is way more wrong than just a blip.
My mind has a remarkable capacity for ignoring anything that might cause pain. Thus, I had to be pushed, shoved and shaken into acceptance. My ex-husband moving out was the ultimate wake-up clue. Hello! Yes, it did take that, plus a few other shenanigans to really make me open my eyes to what was going on and the fact my marriage was over. It sucked. I know that’s not a polite adjective but it truly identifies how I felt. While it was ultimately the best thing for my life, it just sucked.
A work situation slowly arose as an issue on my team. The clues were there, softly surrounding me. I sensed there was something going on, but in my typical don’t want to be vulnerable fashion, I ignored, denied, disengaged and generally looked the other way. It took a conversation from someone outside my team – my incredible and supportive boss – for me to see what others were seeing. There was a small crack in a high performing team that would take being open and vulnerable to mend. Oh yes, it sucked! After digesting the completely honest feedback from this incredible team, I knew it could be remedied through better communications and understanding not everyone saw the world as I did.
In another area, my mother’s health began to have issues. With my perpetual rose colored glasses on, I tried to ignore her deteriorating health as long as possible. I denied she was slightly beginning to slip mentally as well. Then my older sister hit me up side the head with reality. I had to face my mother had incurable lung cancer. She was suffering emotionally and mentally, and soon, we as a family would have to take care of her. It is horrible seeing a parent suffer so much and I wanted to deny and ignore such an uncomfortable reality. Again, it sucked.
Why do I deny all these clues? Well, I avoid feeling bad. I avoid emotional discomfort at all costs. Who likes feeling pain? Ok, outside of Fifty Shades of Grey, not many people do.
I am, by nature, an extremely optimistic and positive person. I see the best in everyone and sense their wonderful potential of who they could be. The issue is that while I see their possibilities, I choose to ignore what makes them so wonderfully human, the knowing along with the good must come the bad and the ugly. So, I close my eyes to the clues telling me something’s less than upbeat.
As humans, I think we all have vulnerability issues. I’m not alone in my “missing all the clues” personality. No one wants to feel unliked, unloved, disconnected or alone. No one wants to feel as if people we love and need may not love and need us as much, so we avoid situations or a reality which make us feel that way. It may feel shameful to be caught out in the open, disconnected from truth and susceptible – less than perfect. Oh, the perfectionist control freak in us hates being caught unaware, vulnerable and in the open. That would suck.
I recently viewed a video by Brene Brown on how vulnerability and connection are traits of people who live a whole-hearted life. Her information was an eye opening and I suddenly felt ok to be imperfect, vulnerable, flawed yet have the courage to live life wholeheartedly. To take “it sucked” out of my vocabulary.
Her talk is honest, hilarious and thought provoking. My favorite phrase from her talk is “Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives us purpose and meaning in our lives.” She spoke about being open and vulnerable, and that willing to take a chance leads us to live a “wholehearted life”. It is my hope by following the road of being open and vulnerable, my direction will lead to more fulfilling connections and relationships.
Here’s the link and I hope you find much good in it.
After viewing her speech a few times and because I want to be as successful as I can in living a whole-hearted life, I inched my way along the road of Open and Vulnerable. I wasn’t going to tell Match.com man about my work situation because I didn’t want him to think less of me as a person and a leader. He knows I’m not perfect (well, I’m pretty sure he knows I’m not perfect), but I certainly didn’t want to lend a hand in helping him see my shortcomings. But, what the heck, I’m not flawless and I value his opinion.
I told him what the situation was and how my actions and behaviors were a cause of the problem. He was wonderful, thank goodness! He listened closely and gave me great feedback on how to glean what’s important, not take it all personally and grow from it. I breathed a huge sigh of relief at his reaction. He took care to be kind in my vulnerability. I was incredibly grateful for his support and he was on my gratitude list that day for sure.
So, how do you deal with being full of denial, cluelessness and using “it sucked” as your speech pattern? Well, first of all you accept “Denial is not a River in Egypt”. You begin seeing reality as it is and stop avoiding being vulnerable. It may take something mind altering and life changing like a divorce or the illness of a loved one or, it may take realizing the uneasy feeling you’ve been experiencing lately is a sign something is just not quite right. Listen and feel it. These are the signs, the clues, telling you something you need to hear.
Then, you accept being vulnerable and take steps to rip off the rose colored glasses. Here’s where being confident, open and self-loving comes in – the truth is not going to kill you. It’s the opposite of the phrase from the movie “A Few Good Men” – you can handle the truth. You may feel like crap for a while, you may think this sucks, but you’ll survive, live, love and be stronger for it. And, you’ll be living a whole-hearted life.
My “Denial is not a River in Egypt” wishes for you
You see and listen closely to life’s clues. They are there whispering to you to solve a life mystery.
You know feeling vulnerable sucks and its ok!
You take the clues, are open and vulnerable, and know there is peace in taking a chance, taking a risk without the safety net.
You realize shame is a part of the bad and ugly shadowing the good. Shame uses fear to defeat us. Shame is like an electric fence surrounding and holding all good things from you. Once you get the courage to climb over the fence, you quickly realize it holds no power. Shame is a fake and looks more menacing than it really is. Acknowledge the shame and move as quickly beyond it as you can.
You see the truth – you are beautiful, kind, loving, loved and smart – the clues are all there and there’s no denying it.
And, you see you have the dimness of bad and the ugly too. That’s OK. Its part of what makes you so wonderfully and universally flawed. It makes the good even better!
As always, with infinite love and gratitude,
PS…Thanks to Jaime Dibean for the idea to write about being clueless. And, my thanks to Pam Murray for being an awesome editor.
PPSS…Here’s another link of Brene Brown speaking about shame. Another eye-opener so please take a minute to view. http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html