I had a client recently who was telling me about his wife tightly managing everything in their lives – their finances, food, clothes, holidays… . He said ‘she’s so controlling about everything it makes me stressed and then I just want to just forget about it all and let her get on with it. Who cares anyway?’
I see this in myself and my clients all the time. There is something that it looks like it causes a problem and we either have to grit our teeth through the stress or we give up altogether. The mental leap between all over it and having none of it.
Teenagers pretending illness before an exam because they are anxious about a bad mark. Business clients who abandon a programme before its even launched because they are worried no one will sign up. Teachers who don’t put forward their ideas to the head because they imagine what a stressful conversation it will be. Strict dieters eating junk for days after they have broken one of their food rules…
I see it so often in myself. A row with an offsprung about wearing a coat in the middle of winter turns into my yelling (sadly not always in my head) GO AHEAD AND FREEZE THEN. I’ve had it with all the ideas I don’t go ahead with because of anticipation of what if they didn’t work out…? I’ve had it when I close down conversations with James because we can’t agree on something for the house or the kids.
To explore this further and because I am a down with the kids, modern sort of coach (really I am), I’m calling these two ways of being:
wev (short for whatev which is short for whatever which is short for ‘Talking about this is doing my head in. Do whatever you want’.)
sfs (an acronym for ‘so f*****g stressed’) .
They look like they are on opposite sides.
‘wev’ with its dismissive ‘who cares anyway’, checking out, hands over our ears ‘la la la’ and blank disengagement
sfs with its tightness, control, anxiety and perfectionism.
Yet they both come from the same place.
A belief in an illusion. A belief in the power of the thing to make us feel something. A belief in a story about the thing and ourself. A belief in this ‘thing’ full stop.
With ‘wev’ the thing looks so big, complicated, important or scary that we feel hopeless to approach it in any way. Even conversations about it make us so uncomfortable that we have to close them down. Separation of self from thing is the only option.
With ‘sfs’ the thing looks so big, complicated, important or scary that we have to climb all over it, choke the air out of it. Disagreement, risk or deviation from the plan cannot be tolerated. Tight control is the only option.
wev and sfs may take our behaviour in different directions but both are based on the same illusion: that this thing and any inability to master it says something about us.
Whether it is money, a diet, a programme, a conversation, an exam, an idea, a life… there is so much freedom in seeing the truth that this ‘thing’, no matter how real it looks, is simply thought in the moment.
There is so much possibility in seeing that nothing is objectively real in the way we believe it to be, nothing says anything about us, nothing means success or failure. The reality of the thing only exists in the way that we are holding it in our head, right now, and that will change.
When we realise this, when we exit the illusion, wev and sfs dissolve into thin air. Stressing about a story we have written ourselves seems a bit effortful. Running away from a monster we painted earlier seems a bit OTT.
In this way, no longer living a story, we hang out in reality. In reality, we get to live in a state of simple curiosity, a state of ‘shall we see?’ or ‘let’s give it a go’ or simply ‘no’. We can have conversations with people. We can find out stuff. We can ask. We can suggest things…
The truth is that no matter what has gone before, no matter how dire things look, we are never more than a thought away from a whole new understanding of every single aspect of our life, a whole new perspective that will open new doors and fling open windows for a fresh spring breeze.
When we come into reality we notice the light switches we had missed before as we frantically stumbled around in the darkness or when we took ourself out of the room altogether.
With none of it meaning anything, we are free to engage with the people, the ideas, the life that is right there in front of us.
We can put our whole self into an exam or launch a programme or have a conversation or eat what occurs to us or put forward an idea or say what we want or arrange our finances knowing that nothing is fixed, no outcome means anything, there is always another perspective and another idea to come.
This is real living. Living in reality with the wev and the sfs a distant memory. Living our infinite creative potential.
Why do anything else?
EOM. ILY. B4N.