It wasn’t better “back there” (Read Time: 4 min.)

woman 25I was going to write a different post this morning.  I was going to talk about how to not be distracted in life, how to stay the course and stay on purpose.  But it’s hard to do that when you’re present life is becoming increasingly drama-filled or anxiety ridden.  There’s been all of this talk about the Pew Report and women breadwinners, about single mothers who make no money versus married women breadwinners who bring home the bacon.  All of the media headlines and the debates and the discussions… and, yet, nobody’s really tackling the issue.

So I’m going to tackle a woman breadwinner issue this morning:

Wishing for a better past

Human nature is a funny thing.  The grass always looks greener on the other side, doesn’t it?  When you’re single, you wish you had someone.  When you’re married, you long for those single days.  When you have babies, you just want some sleep. When you have elementary school kids, you miss having babies to cuddle.  It seems as if we’re always living in the shadow of a past we think was better than it actually was or in serious anticipation of a future we expect to be 100 times better than  what the present currently is.

And it’s all a lie.  Every bit of it.

This kind of “wishing” for something different gets even worse when you’re going through a trial or life difficulty.  For women breadwinners, it could be a stressful work situation or recalling a time when you weren’t the breadwinner (and loved it) or even looking at how your friends live their lives (i.e. not being the breadwinner, not having the stress, not having to fill so many roles) and you start to believe (falsely) that it was so much better “back there.”

Let me help you out with this:

It wasn’t.

It wasn’t better “back there.”  If it had been, you’d still be “back there.”

Your mind forgets a lot of past details.  We propagate the human race based on this kind of amnesia.  If you remembered every detail of pregnancy, labor and delivery, would you really have done it five or six times?  I think not…

You might think you want to be as naive and ignorant as you once were so you wouldn’t be facing what you’re facing right now but guess what?  Ignorance is not bliss and naivete comes with a steep price.

Nothing about “back there” was a fairy tale story… even if you have yourself believing that it was.

Was it different than today? Yes.

Was it better than today? No.

Every step you took, every mistake you made, every experience you had, all of it brought you here and even if here is sheer and utter hell, you were brought to it so you could move through it.

Do not dull the importance of today’s journey because you wish that yesterday hadn’t gone so fast.  It did.  Today will.  Tomorrow might.

There may have been a time, prior to now, when you felt more in control, more at ease, and maybe even more at peace but the lesson of that isn’t that the past was so much better than the present but that, in every moment, then and now, you get to decide exactly how you feel.

You’ve been in a spiritual classroom all this time.  In your most difficult moments, recognize that the classroom didn’t change.  The subject matter, the difficulty level, and the final exam did.

Don’t wish that you were still living in a past that feels better today than it did back then.  When you were in it, you didn’t think so.  Now that you’re out of it, you’re looking for a reason to go back there.

Remember something really important:

“Today is the future I created yesterday.”

– Louise L. Hay

And if you’re still living “back there”, you aren’t creating over here.  You’re rehashing, reliving, and resenting… and you will create MORE of that in your future.

Is that what you really want?

Okay then… take that “wishing for a better past” where? BACK THERE…

#keepitmovin

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Women Breadwinners & The Crazy Question (Read Time: 4 min.)

thinking 1For all the talent, strength and experience women breadwinners bring to the table, it’s amazing that many women breadwinners still stay up at night grappling with the same question:

Am I good enough?

It’s a crazy question taking up so much mental space that it’s time to deal with the issue RIGHT NOW.  Insecurity comes in many shapes and sizes.  A person can feel confident in their physical appearance and insecure in their intelligence.  A woman can feel great when she’s speaking in front of a crowd and lousy when she’s talking to a person one-on-one.  The variations of insecurity and self-doubt are countless but the root of all self-doubt is the same:

You believe a lie about yourself so strongly that you make it the truth.

How do you stop asking the crazy question, “Am I good enough?”

How do you stop feeling stuck in a certain spot in life because you’re not “worthy”?

How do you let go of your what your mother, father, brother, sister, or some long ago teacher said about you, the thing that stuck in your brain as a child and is now wreaking havoc in your life as a story you keep retelling?

How do you get over not being enough?

You decide to, one area of life at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time.

You DECIDE not to believe the lie someone told you decades ago.

You DECIDE that you run the show and you get to be whoever you choose.

You DECIDE that your dignity, your respect, and your self-esteem are worthy of your time.

You DECIDE that you can be MORE of who you are and that’s it not selfish to do so.

You DECIDE that anyone who doesn’t like you being brave, brilliant, and daring isn’t worth keeping in your life.

You DECIDE that you have to grow… no matter who gets left behind.

You DECIDE that the only way to live is to do so fully and full throttle living requires ALL of you.

You DECIDE that you weren’t an accident, that you aren’t a mistake, and that you were born to do great things.

You DECIDE that rock bottom is the foundation upon which you can build your life and you begin building it TODAY.

You DECIDE that the only opinion that matters is yours.  Yes, other people’s opinions will sting.  Yes, they will hurt.  And, no, they won’t matter if you make YOUR opinions the facts and their opinions heresy.

You DECIDE that asking yourself crazy questions and keeping yourself awake agonizing over the answers is a TOTAL and COMPLETE waste of time and you stop that RIGHT NOW!

You DECIDE that it is far too exhausting to emotionally beat yourself up than it is to energetically build yourself up… and you choose to build, not beat.

You DECIDE that, at the end of your life, you don’t want to be the bitter old hag who grumbles about what everybody’s taken from her and that you’d rather be the wise, gorgeous old woman who basks in all that she’s received, shared, and given.

You DECIDE that today, right here, right now, you can give up that old story and write a new one… and you do so with a pen, with your words, with your mind, and, especially, with your heart and you rewrite the script of your life scene by scene, line by line.

You DECIDE to be different because you recognize that you NEVER have to be a person you don’t like.

You DECIDE and you DO… and then everything changes, most significantly, YOU…

The beautiful part of this answer, the scary part of this response, the thrilling part of this adventure

is that the entirety of your self worth and self respect is COMPLETELY UP TO YOU…

YOU DECIDE… 

Women Breadwinners & the Perpetual Argument: What is the fighting REALLY about? (Read Time: 6 min.)

couple 869% of all marital conflicts are PERPETUAL

In other words, there is no solution to them and engaging in conflict over them is a complete AND total waste of time.

Given this fact, it’s important to distinguish between marital conflict that’s solvable and conflict that’s perpetual.  If it’s solvable, it’s worth working through.  If it’s perpetual, it’s simply a waste of time, energy, and focus.

There’s only one problem with this:

Most couples fight for the WRONG reasons.

Here are some examples:

  1. Fighting to win
  2. Fighting to be right
  3. Fighting to get attention
  4. Fighting to avoid discussing and solving REAL issues
  5. Fighting to annoy, upset, or deter the other person
  6. Fighting to blame the other person
  7. Fighting to feel comfortable (yes, some folks feel most comfy when life is filled with drama)
  8. Fighting to fill the void and emptiness of being in a marriage that isn’t (and probably was never) right in the first place

Yes, there are tons of WRONG reasons why couples fight.  But the problem in women breadwinner marriages doesn’t come down to whether a husband and wife argue; it comes down to the way they go about viewing, understanding, and working through the conflict.

Psychologist Dan Wile said it beautifully in a book called “After the Honeymoon”: “When choosing a long-term partner… you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years.”

Did you read the 50 years part?

Yes… In other words, EVERYBODY comes with baggage.  It’s up to you to choose baggage you know you can live with (and love) for the next 50 years.

The trouble in women breadwinner relationships is this:

Not all women signed up to be breadwinners, not all women breadwinners want to be breadwinners,

and not all beta husbands of women breadwinners want to be stay-at-home husbands or dads.

When you’re in a role you didn’t actively choose or one you never thought you’d be in, conflict is bound to creep up.

So… what is the fighting REALLY about?

When looked at productively, the fighting is about growth: discovering it, resisting it, managing it and thriving through it.

In a book called Enchanted Love, Marianne Williamson says the following:

“Growth is a detox process, as our weakest, darkest places are sucked up to the surface in order to be released.  Often, upon seeing the weaknesses in each other, we have the tendency to go “Yuck!” and walk away on some level.  But often it is not a change in partners but rather a change in perception that delivers us to the love we seek.  When we shift our view of the purpose of intimacy-from serving our own needs as we define them to serving a larger process of healing- then an entirely new opportunity presents itself.  Our wounds have been brought forward, not to block the experience of love, but to serve it.” 

In this way, when marital conflict takes up residence in a woman breadwinner marriage, it’s not there to say “This marriage won’t work.”  Conflict is there to proclaim, “There’s a lot of healing here to do.”

And we resist healing.  We resist healing in ourselves the parts that grew up feeling unloved, unappreciated, never good enough, always having to be better, striving for more, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The inner child in us who’s afraid to be vulnerable would rather spend a lifetime in a marriage picking a fight than settling into bliss.  When we come to the understanding that there are parts of us running the show of our marriages and that those parts aren’t always the most beneficial parts for the marriage, we can get real with the fact that the problems of the relationship aren’t all his fault or her fault… it’s an opportunity for both people to grow… TOGETHER.

So how do you take a fight and turn it into a healing process?

Here are four ways to begin: 

  1. Distinguish between solvable problems and perpetual problems.  Agree to disagree on the perpetual; tackle the solvable problems with whole mind in present action.
  2. Begin with softness, sweetness, and ONE memory from the honeymoon phase of your relationship that still makes you smile.  Tell each other what you appreciate, love, and what you remember about each other.  Begin with a fond memory and it creates a soft place to land, even if the rest of the conversation takes a heavy turn.
  3. Self sooth when you need to.  The moment you feel your heart racing, your head pounding, your jaw tighten, and your fists clenched, know that you are doing what we call “flooding” and when you’re flooding, you’re not hearing one word your spouse has to say.  Agree in advance to take a 20 minute time out when flooding happens to one or both of you.  When flooding occurs, call a time out and retreat so you can self-soothe, regain your composure, and come back to the discussion with love.  Remember: this is your discussion.  You can take a break if you need one.  Resist the temptation to fight to be the person who has the last word.
  4. Soothe each other.  You’ve met your partner.  You know what pisses him off, turns him on, and makes him feel valued.  Once you’ve soothed yourself, soothe him and vice versa.  It will show fondness, appreciation and care.  That alone goes a long way in a conflict.

At the end of the day, every fight is about something deeper than the superficial issues presented.  We don’t argue to hear ourselves talk (most of us).  We don’t fight to win.  We create discord because there’s something deep within us that wants to be heard and healed and we haven’t learned any other way to do it but argue.  No matter what brings you to the conflict table, you can find a stronger, more loving way out of it by recognizing a marital conflict for what it is:

An opportunity to heal