First of all, you’re fine, really. If any reaction came up from the title of this essay, maybe we can discuss it later, but for right now, I want you to realize that I’m not specifically pointing you out as someone who needs help. This is a general consideration of the state of change in our lives and how sometimes, no matter how independent and capable we are, a helping hand can be a useful thing to our minds and our lives.
Only change is constant
We are in an inconsistently constant state of change. Our bodies are moving through the years in either the direction of growth or decay. Our minds capture experiences that may support us or challenge us in the future. Our emotions… well, for some seem to have a life of their own. This can be a positive thing, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
If the target is always moving and we are shifting even when we may not be aware of it, what’s a person to do? In an ideal case, our bodies would be moving towards greater health and wellbeing, our goals and dreams being handled in clockwork-like steps towards their realization… Most of the time, we may feel we’re backtracking or making up for wrong turns, failed attempts or working out a Plan B. What we forget, however, is that these detours that may feel like stymieing our progress, are all part of the journey.
Over the years, many of the greatest opportunities for growth or discovery of solutions stems from the foibles or failures we need to overcome. Sometimes a setback is just an unlucky roll of the dice and there is no lesson in it, no redeeming outcome, yet there are many times when an uncomfortable stretch results in growth in the future. I’ve seen it over thousands of clients and sessions… which brings me back to the point…
Looking from a different perspective
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. I look at that concept quite simply – sometimes we are just too close to our own problems. We understand that challenge when we choose to talk to a friend or loved one about an issue that we seem to be stuck on, getting some feedback or advice that was elusive to us.
I firmly believe that each of us has the components we need to solve our own greatest trials, but just like a jigsaw puzzle, sometimes the pieces just don’t seem to fit for us when we need them to. That’s where someone further away from the problem can be helpful – whether a loving amateur or a professional – it’s the distance that brings perspective, the margin that makes the writing more well-defined.
This isn’t a flaw in our system, it’s a natural result of being with a conundrum that feels so connected to you – like looking into the sun, we tend to have blind spots that are easier for others to see.
Interestingly, the subconscious mind is also the imaginative mind and is extremely flexible and creative. When we don’t have others to reflect with, we can ‘create’ our own ‘other’ from which to get feedback. So, just suspend the rational, critical conscious mind for a moment and try this on as you’d try on a coat – see if it fits now or may in the future.
If you have someone whose opinion you respect or has proven him- or herself to be good at assisting you with your challenges, imagine that you’re having a conversation with them. It might be easiest when you’re by yourself with your eyes closed, or when you’re going to sleep or getting up in the morning. Just have a conversation ‘as if’ this advisor was there. You may be surprised at the responses and different viewpoints you can create even within your own mind.
This doesn’t mean that you need to do it all yourself, it’s just an extra tool in your toolbox when you need it and are alone.
In fact, I have been witness to some of the bravest people in the world, who, in times of vulnerability, have chosen to get support from someone else. Instead of a weakness, I see reaching out as a strength. Staying in the same, non-working place isn’t as courageous as forging a new, and uncertain course. Getting the lift you need, from a different perspective is smart and gutsy.
Low Hanging Fruit, Higher Up
Sir Isaac Newton wrote in a letter, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” And while we may be able to pick the low-hanging fruits fairly easily by ourselves, it sometimes takes a boost to be able to reach another level.
When we work on a project to enhance our excellence, there are increasingly difficult levels that we reach and surpass to make the extraordinary (at one time) into the ordinary (once we have got a handle on it). Even in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are the lowest and most basic levels of food and shelter, with increasing levels of security, belonging, esteem and actualization. When we are stymied on one level, the other levels feel a bit further out of reach.
When we combine our natural and acquired strengths and attributes with the experience and guidance of others, there appears to be an alchemistic ‘gold’ that is created, and we are better able to progress and change with the sum of the parts rather than with just one.
While I’m not saying that getting help will always provide the easiest solution, it seems to increase the chance of benefiting from a 360 degree view of our situation. While more options doesn’t mean better options, at times these additional choices can give alternatives that may reveal a better path and future. This is assuming that the help we’re getting, or the shoulders we’re standing on, are supportive and at a higher level than we are at currently. If not, it may be best to go it alone until another sturdy force can bear the weight of our troubles. So keeping these caveats in mind, search out worthy and deeply supportive others who believe in your capacity to grow and change your own life for the better (with just a little nudge or support when needed).
In the times when things are going great – enjoy. Congratulate yourself for the work you’ve done on your own and appreciate those who may have helped you along the way. When times provide challenges for you, realize that you have a great capacity to surmount obstacles all by yourself, and may also benefit from the guidance, experience or perspective of others. While you may be walking your own path in life, there are others along the way that are there to make the journey much more satisfying.
If you feel you need an objective supporter who knows the power of the subconscious mind (and of your own inner skills, experience and abilities), give us a call – we’re here to help.