It’s a song by Brandi Carlile, and I tend to listen to it when I am discouraged. “Who’s gonna break my fall … ” is the line I most relate to, because I am often anticipating that the fall is about to come. Why? Because I am prideful at times … because I get in my head that with God with me, who can be against me … because I don’t like to admit my failures, or worse maybe … I dreadfully accept my failures and expect others to, not only live with them (with a secret fear that they will get sick of it and leave me), but ACCEPT THEM TOO.
I don’t think I am alone in that fear. I battle it, sometimes daily, but most often during the low point of my cycle or when I catch myself misbehaving and realize that the fear of being considered “unacceptable” (reference to the Lemon King thing in Adventure Time – please don’t judge) will inevitably leave me friendless, spouseless, and a.l.o.n.e.
This is a common pondering in counseling sessions with my own patients, and while I work to practice unconditional positive regard to this lovely human being sitting across from me … and I truly mean lovely, loveable, love-worthy, loving, human being … I also work to help my patients embrace the reality that not everyone, and perhaps no one, will accept their behavior, feelings, thoughts, and this CAN create a problem – intrinsic or extrinsic dissonance (I provided the definition below, because I use the word often, but didn’t know exactly what it meant). Also, not only will this happen, but it can be okay when it does.
Definition of dissonance (a): lack of agreement; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs — compare cognitive dissonance (b) : an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement
So what do we do with this dissonance? We naturally look for harmony or balance. It seems simple enough, but our methods for doing this can be maladaptive, harmful, unhealthy, and sometimes lethal. We over-correct AND under-correct. We have a whirlwind of emotions that get in our way, or in the way of others. Sometimes we gossip, sometimes we stuff or hide our true selves, sometimes we engage in passive-aggressive behavior, and more. Of course, I’m talking about the unhealthy ways we cope. If you consistently have healthy ways of coping with how others respond to your weaknesses, YOU don’t need to read this – but feel free to respond with comments of what has helped you to succeed. I digress …
While harmony is nice, and sweet, and feels good … it is balance that is the key. Finding balance between what comes natural and is healthy and has more positive than negative outcomes or consequences, is highest on the helpfulness scale. It’s challenging and takes focus and time and energy, and important someone’s may not agree with the changes we are making, because change IS hard, but YOU are worth the effort.
Balance is hard to define in comparison to what works for others … there is no universal measurement for it like there is for length or weight; however, there ARE a few steps you can take to determine where and when and how and why for yourself:
- When you evaluate a decision – is it good for you, good for others, easy to do, and does it feel good?
- Does your behavior have long-term gain or short-term gain or both or neither?
- Does the behavior actually achieve what you were hoping it would achieve?
- Who does your behavior benefit? (This one takes serious evaluation … because often times, we perceive gains to doing something for someone else’s benefit and sometimes we don’t perceive those gains but they still exist).
- Are you behaving in a way that is true to who you are … does your behavior represent YOU?
- Is your behavior consistent with your own values and beliefs?
As you begin to evaluate your decisions in this non-comprehensive but helpful manner, and act accordingly to your own determination, you WILL find yourself in a rewarding lifestyle, connected to at least one validating relationship (with more to come), and able to cope more successfully with the peaks and valleys of life. And then … you won’t necessarily need anyone to catch you … because you won’t be falling again today. Thanks for reading thoughts from the shoebox.