The Hardest Thing I Have Given Up
Recently I did a series of long hikes with my good friend and podcast co-host Jo-Anne Gibson. It’s our fourth year hiking together and we are aware of the patterns in our conversations. I mentioned something to her and then I added, “If I am still talking about this next year call me out on it.” We had a good laugh because we've recognized this particular pattern in our lives. We generally bitch and complain about something one year. And then the next year we are ready to do something about it. And the following year, we have moved on. It’s been really encouraging to see how these changes happen and it can help us be patient with ourselves and others.
I would say the pattern looks something like this:
1. Awareness - This stage usually is dominated with complaining, bitching and whining about a person or circumstance in your life. You are unhappy with what is happening. Often this is the beginning phase of awareness and you still haven’t stepped into your own role in the problem. You see the problem as outside of yourself. You see someone else or the situation as the issue.
2. Readiness - In this stage you are aware of your role in the situation. You have moved beyond being a victim. You own your unhappiness or discontent. You are ready to make a change. You don’t want to keep talking about it. You want to do something about your situation.
3. Ending - You finally take action. You make the change. You stop talking about it and do something.
I’ve seen this pattern in my life over and over again. And so each Fall, on our long hikes, I know that the thing I am complaining about this year will eventually be resolved. All my talking about it is a way of becoming more aware of what is bothering me. It helps me get really clear on the issue - the real issue.
But there is one thing that has taken me a long time to move from awareness to readiness. One problem that I have spent all of my adult life trying to overcome. It’s my deep rooted need to be liked. It shows up in my conversation often stated as, “I don’t want to hurt X” or “I don’t want to disappoint Y.” Those things are not the real issue though. The real issue is I want to be liked. And because I want to be liked, I am not always completely transparent about who I am. At times and with certain people I feel quite compartmentalized.