Are You Just Waiting To Escape?

Are You Just Waiting To Escape?

The Union Path Podcast

"Are You Just Waiting To Escape?"

Episode Transcript:

00:20 - Speaker 1
When I was in my mid-30s, I started going to Alinon groups for a little while. I started going to these groups because there's a pretty significant amount of alcoholism in my family. I was witnessing family members just do some crazy things, so I seeked out this group to help provide some clarity, provide some answers, to figure out what these other people were doing and how to make sense of it, how to protect myself, how to explain, how to just abide and be with behavior that just seemed pretty crazy to me. This wasn't a new experience. With alcoholism around you, especially in your immediate family, you experience quite a bit of craziness or, at the very least, quite a bit of chaos, and, as a child, that can't help but mold and shape you, because a lot of times you're left to fend for yourself to answer the question of why? Why is this happening? What do I do about it? And we can ingrain these lessons, these ideas, these strategies that we implement at a far too early age. What ends up happening then is we can even drag these strategies into our adult life of where we're still using the coping strategies of an eight-year-old in our 20s and our 30s or later. What seemed to work for us then in our eight-year-old mind, this seemed to be a way to solve this problem or, at the very least, to be able to survive this problem, and so we ingrained that as a habit and kept doing that over and over again.

The most interesting thing about the Alanon experience and Alanon is a group for family members of addicts is really more about responsibility and, specifically as the child, as a family member of an addict, finding where our own responsibility lies, how we're actually responsible for at least part of our experience In most situations. It's definitely not equal. It's definitely not a 50-50. You've got an addict in your life, crazy, making their way through and around everything, but it's also not 0% either. Then, no matter how dysfunctional the situation is, no matter how much dysfunction is being thrust upon us, we always have a part to play, and that's a really useful and liberating thing to realize is that we always have a say. We always have some amount of responsibility in whatever situation we're in, and as long as there's responsibility, there's power, there's agency, there's the ability to choose to do something different and, like a lot of people going to these meetings, it's took me a little bit of time to line up with. To put it in blunt terms, it's like wait a minute, I'm not the addict, I'm not the one doing crazy behavior, being super irresponsible and just creating damage and destruction.

Everywhere I go For a lot of this. I was just a kid, or even as a young adult. I was just playing the part of the family member that I am. I was being respectful, I was accepting the role and the family that I had, and I was doing it to the greatest ability that I could, in the best way that I could. But when I really started to peel this apart and really start to look at okay, now, how, how am I actually responsible for my experience in these interactions, especially as an adult, that, yeah, as an eight-year-old there wasn't really a lot I could really do. But I don't have to act like an eight-year-old.

In my 30s I have way more power and agency than I think I do, and a lot of times the problem is that I'm just not exercising it. I'm redounding the habits. I'm just repeating the same behaviors over and over again, either because these are habits that I've developed, or it's just easier that way. I Don't want to create conflict, I don't want to get into a fight. I don't. I don't even want to manage the situation, I just want to get through it. I just want to kind of put my head down, but one foot in front of the other, and just get through the day, the week, the month, the year. And Of course, these sorts of strategies aren't unique to living with addiction.

A Lot of us, especially in less than ideal life circumstances, can really do the same thing, can really adopt an attitude where we just put our head down and we wait. We bite our time in a lot of ways. We wait to escape the bad job, the bad relationship, the bad living arrangement, whatever it is. So many of us adopt and integrate the lesson that the way through any difficult situation is just to put our head down and persevere and wait. Wait for a better day, wait for a better circumstances, and sometimes this is really useful. There is a lot of truth in this. In difficult situations, perseverance and persistence can be powerful allies.

But that's not the whole story. Like so many things in life, life is about balance, usually about the balance of opposites, and by putting our head down and persevering, even though that can feel very effortful, I can feel very active. That's actually very passive and can lead us into places we don't really want to go. Oh, passivity, maintained and sustained for long enough, will lead us to despair, will lead us to a hollow, empty life, will lead us to a life that is just grim and gray, full of toil and struggle and treachery, because we're just passively going along with our life. And, of course, obviously, passivity is useful. It can be just as harmful, it can be just as damaging to go in our life like a bowl in a china shop all the time, that whenever something happens, whenever we're uncomfortable, we just start to wreck stuff. That's obviously not ideal either, but the opposite of the problem is really the solution. And so we're not really talking about the different polarities between passivity and activity, or fighting the sweet spot in the middle, the mix of the two, the juxtaposition that makes our life better.

And if we've gotten to a point where life feels really stagnant, our life feels really Drab or dull, or life is just really uncomfortable, we just swallow a lot of subtle suffering every day with really no hope in sight. We just keep persevering, we just keep going, we just keep doing, we keep trying, but nothing really ever moves the needle, nothing really ever changes, because we're just taking out all and we're just absorbing all of it. We're overly passive, waiting to escape, waiting for someone or something else to change so that we can experience change, so that we can experience something different. And so I think, when we look into our life and it's less than ideal it's important to ask ourselves that, even though this feels like we don't really have that much of a part to play, like this is just life happening to us there's always some amount of responsibility that we shoulder, because there's always opportunity for us to change it. No matter how powerless we feel, there's power in there somewhere. That ember might be faint and dim, but it's still there. It can still be stoked, it can still be nurtured and brought back to life. We can bring ourselves back to life.

Because this whole idea of waiting, deferring, can really be tremendously corrosive. To hope, can be a tremendous detriment to our life experience, because we're not really living our life now, we're just waiting for some future. We've deferred our life experience until something else happens. But this kind of sets off a bit of a paradox, because I think, especially over a longer time span, we can look into our life and see how we are the originators, how our life really starts with us that if we look back over our life, we can see a through line of our input, our responsibility, how we've created the circumstances of our life, how we've been the originators and the orchestrators of our own experience. And we can see that because, especially over the longer term, our life tends to get immeasurably better the more responsibility for it we take.

With that idea of taking responsibility from our own life, that can flip the switch from passivity to activity, that can help us find our way to the equilibrium, to the perfect balance point between being passive and active in our own life, because of course, we need to accept what we need to accept. We can't be fighting every aspect of our life constantly. Again, the solution isn't 100% activity, but the solution and ideal life isn't 100% passive either. It's both, it's the mixture of the two, it's the alchemy of activity and passivity that leads to the experience of our life. It's if we find ourselves in situations where we're just waiting for them to be over. We're waiting for this work circumstance to end, we're waiting for this school circumstance to end, we're waiting for this relationship circumstance to end, we're waiting for anything to end.

I think if we really get inside this. We can feel the problem with this Because this feels like we're just a sponge absorbing life and never really expressing anything back, that there's a congestion to this sort of behavior. We're clogged, we're blocked, we're bloated, we get overly inflated because we're not expressing, we're not doing, we're just absorbing. And of course, life is about the interchange, the inner play between impression and expression, between the in and the out, and we surrender a whole lot of opportunity. We can sabotage ourselves quite profoundly by abdicating either one, by not impressing enough, by not taking enough in, by not building our own awareness, by not paying attention, by not listening, by not learning. We can also cause ourselves quite a bit of problems by not being enough out either, by not expressing, by not doing, by not trying, by not utilizing the life energy that flows through us, that perhaps has gotten stagnant and stale because of this sort of congestion, because we've absorbed too much.

Because we look into our life and especially if there's a circumstance that we'd really like to change, we need to ask ourselves are we actually doing anything to change that circumstance? In what way are we being active in this circumstance? Changing in the solution coming to us? How much responsibility are we taking in our own life. Is it enough? Is it the right amount, or have we deferred too much? Have we become a little bit too passive in our own life?

Because something that I think is really interesting is that when powerful change happens in our life, usually it's due to a shift of energy, that we can trace it back and we can see that our energy actually shifted. First we felt different before that different thing actually happened, before the difference occurred. And so if I trace the through line of passivity and find that at its ultimate, extreme end it leads to despair, powerlessness, hopelessness, then what actually flips the switch out of that darkness? Typically, it's seizing our own power, it's claiming our own freedom through claiming responsibility, through finding the internal strength and power and fortitude to create change, to do something different, to make something happen, at the very least to decide that change is necessary and needed, to claim the change that we want to live, to shift even a little bit from the extreme of passivity that we've been in it. Being a little bit more active, applying a little bit of force, a little bit of direction to our own life, in this shifting into activity, from passivity, can be just the spark we've been looking for can be precisely what we needed Because, again, our life is a reflection of ourselves.

We've been getting what we've been getting because we've been doing what we've been doing and getting to this point. Sometimes this point can be a rock bottom of where we just really can't take anymore. We've waited and we've waited, we've kept our head down and we've pushed and we've grinded and we've persevered, but we just can't take it anymore. That's an opportunity to flip that switch. That's an opportunity to reclaim our own power, to reclaim our own life by making that decision. I can't abide this circumstance, whatever it is anymore, and I'm going to decide to change it.

Oftentimes that in and of itself is enough to flip that switch, to get us into a more active state, to start to reclaim our life that's been eroded for our own hopelessness, through our own despair. We can emerge from that dark night by deciding to change, by deciding to create change and realizing that, no matter how powerless we feel, we have more power than we think we do. No matter how powerless we feel in any situation, we have more agency. We have more ability to create change than we think and perhaps that ability that often that ability isn't enough to create immediate change. This isn't about snapping our fingers, or often if we struggled with something for a long time, it isn't because we haven't made any effort, isn't because we haven't tried.

So the solution may take some time, but it all starts, it all originates with us deciding to change. That's kind of getting to a point where we can't take it anymore. And we use that energy, we use that refusal, we use that defiance to motivate and inspire a different energy to help us flip the switch. Because, especially we've been dealing with a difficult situation for a long time. We may feel like we can't actually do that, that we've gotten really passive because we just don't have anything left. We're wrung out, we're scooped out, there's just nothing left. Something's got to give. And I'm just trying to get through the day. I'm just trying to get through this situation. I'm just trying to get through my life. But I think we all have to honor and acknowledge Not many of us aspire or even really want a life. We're just trying to get through.

And if that's the case, what can we do about it? The first thing we can do is decide to change. The first thing we can do is look for opportunities to shift from passivity to activity. The first thing we can do is decide that this is unacceptable and that we're going to do something about it. We may not have the slightest idea what that thing we're going to do is, but that doesn't really matter as much. It's just making the decision. Making the choice, claiming the change, because we've all seen this switch.

It's usually that our favorite parts of our favorite movies in movie terms, it usually comes around the late middle portion of the movie where our hero gets to a point where they decide they can't take it anymore. They decide they can actually create change. They decide they're going to do something different. They're going to decide to be different. They're going to take responsibility, they're going to take control of their own life, and that decision alone is energizing. Making that decision alone is motivating. We can feel it, we experience it all the time.

This is how motivational speakers or self-help gurus work. They return a sense of power to the people who listen to them, a sense of agency. They return a bit of freedom. They remind people that they have more power than they think they do. They remind people that they can do more than they think. They remind people that they're not as stuck and trapped as they think, life is not as hopeless and they're not as helpless as they think they are. They return a sense of confidence, of authority, of ability for that person to impact their own life, and we don't need anyone else to do this for us. We just need to remember that this is inside us already, that we already have the ability to create whatever change that we want to create.

This is inherent in the desire for the change in the first place. We're not meant to be tortured by what we want, paying attention and honoring what we really want, especially deep down in the inside matters, because the point when we're most aware of what we want is precisely the point where we're capable of actually doing something about it. There's a symmetry to it, there's a justice to it, there's a balance to it. The stronger the desire is, the more appropriate the timing is to start doing something about it. And again, especially at the beginning, it may be completely unclear what we can even do.

Early on, it can be very easy to think okay, well, I've decided to change the circumstance. Now what? Well, that's the journey of walking through the change that you're trying to create, because all change requires some amount of risk. That's why we like to avoid it. There's no risk in keeping everything exactly the same. But we start to introduce change, we start to introduce a little bit of chaos and with that chaos is a possibility of failure, of loss. But we have to accept that If we're waiting for 100% certainty that whatever change we're trying to create will absolutely be successful, we'll just keep waiting.

When it comes to change, there are no sure things. We just have to go. And if we need to go, we need to start going and find our way along the way. It's like falling in love with someone. You have no idea whether this is going to work out or not. You have no idea if this is going to end up in tragedy and pain and destruction and calamity later. But you can't help it. You have to go.

Well, it's the same way with all matters of your heart. If your life has gotten small and bleak and grim, odds are you've stopped listening to your heart. You've stopped listening to what you really want. That's part of the pall of passivity. So we silence our heart, we ignore our intuition. We were down to a life that's just routine and small and part of creating change. But experiencing change is taking a little bit of risk, and this is a personal journey we have to find our way through. No one can tell you the exact, perfect steps to take, even if someone is undertaken the exact change that you're trying to create. Odds are. There's some subtle nuance, there's some modification, there's some tailoring, there's some customization that needs to be made for you for this to be 100% right for you. It's a personal and we don't have to live a life where we're just waiting to escape. We're waiting for things to be over, and I say this from the perspective of this is something I have done dozens of times.

I grew up with it. I grew up in a household. I was just waiting to escape. I would go to school just waiting for it to be over. I'd work jobs I hated, just waiting for the day to be over, waiting for the weekend, waiting for some other job, only to find myself in the same position, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, wanting to escape, needing to escape Because I was just being so passive.

I wasn't picking up the reins in my own life, I was letting life dictate to me, and life got immeasurably better when I started to introduce activity, when I looked for the balance, and at times this was a little clumsy, especially in my earlier adulthood. I probably got a little arrogant, I probably got a little overconfident, I probably bowled over people more than I needed to. But this is just my clumsy way of finding myself, of finding my way to balance. That had to be a little overly active for a while, a little overly aggressive, a little overconfident, to find my way back to the middle, or at least I aim to balance activity and passivity in my own life, to balance allowing and force, surrender and power. Both are equally useful Used in the right proportion. Both are absolutely amazing when it comes to living a good life, when it comes to living a life we actually want, and if we're living a life filled with circumstances that we're just waiting to escape, there's value in looking for opportunities to flip that switch from passivity and powerlessness to responsibility and confidence.

It's a difficult lesson to learn, but all this waiting that we've been doing waiting for things to change what we usually find is what we've been waiting for is ourselves. The change that we've been waiting for has been an internal one. We've been waiting for ourselves to change from passive to active. We've been waiting for ourselves to change from deciding to just go along with everything to just wait to actually do something about it, to actually create a change. That all along we were the hero, we were the savior that we were waiting for. He was within us all the time and because of that we can choose to change.

We can choose to seize that responsibility, decide to create change whenever we want, and even if we've been beaten down and ground down and diminished and depleted and we might feel like there's no way I have even a modicum of the energy required to create that change we have more energy than we think we do we can at least start leaning in that direction. We may not be able to do anything right now, but we can decide to start, we can decide to begin. We can decide to shift that energy from just constant absorption to whatever life gives us, to some amount of expression, some amount of intentionality, some amount of reclaiming our own responsibility, our own power within our own life. Decide to change the angle within which we lean. Lean a little more active and a little less passive. Know that energy is something that can accumulate over time. Sure, sometimes we can inspire by things, and that comes with it a massive flood of energy, but sometimes things are a bit more of a slow burn, or if we start leaning in the direction of a change, the energy required to create that change slowly accumulates over time and we can foster that, we can nurture that, we can grow that, we can turn that ember and regrow that fire. There is so much more to life than waiting, and if we're living a life where we're just waiting to escape, we can begin to free ourselves. Now. We can begin to free ourselves by looking for opportunities to use our own activity in our own life and when we do, we'll find our way to that escape. We'll find our way to that freedom because everything that we need already lies within.

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