Problems have a curious way of working out. With work.
Nothing happens all by itself. Timing is everything.
Today, I'm feeling weightless. This has nothing to do with the seven pounds I've lost at Weight Watchers in the last five weeks.
I'm feeling lighter emotionally. Less stressed. Relaxed. So much so, I've cancelled this week's session with Dr. Bob.
Without going into specifics, I'm delighted to tell you that after two years of shouldering a distressing personal problem, weightier than you can imagine, it's finally resolved.
Until now, I just couldn't process it, so it was festering and fermenting.
Process is the key word.
You've heard me use it often. It's a driving force in my life. Everything we do, I think, is process-oriented. Talking therapies have taught me how to process. My husband often accuses me of psychoanalyzing him and everyone else. Not true. But, I admit, my modus operandi tends in that direction.
I try to live in the present, but old records keep playing and even the work I do in my psychotherapy at times runs at odds with my deepest instincts. I feel I'm listening to the cross talk of two voices in my head – reason versus emotion. They argue. Never agree. It's dizzying.
We're such complex creatures psychologically, which is why pills aren't the only way to deal with emotional or psychiatric issues. They're not that simple. Medications may numb our feelings for a while, but they don't resolve root problems.
I was harbouring a lot of pain. It was distracting and debilitating. So, over the last few weeks, somehow I was ready and able to begin to try working things out.
And now, the problem is gone. Over. No more pain. Old chapter closed. New chapter opened. I let it all go and learned so much through the process.
It's all about interpersonal communicating without getting emotional. It takes time to reach that place in your head and your heart to be able to discuss your real feelings and your pain without an overlay of toxic emotions – resentment, mostly anger – without taking things personally.
With Facebook and texting and email – all toneless – this deeper level of interpersonal communication seems to be waning – like the art of conversation – the ability to express your feelings openly and directly. My friend and sage, psychiatrist Ron Pies hints at this trend in his recent essay on the current narcissism of our age.
As far as communication goes, it's the listening more than the talking that oils the process. Empathic listening. Active listening. With your ears, your eyes and your heart. For some reason, maybe maturity, the other day I was able or willing to listen more than spout or shout – and remarkably, my two-year stand-off smoothly sorted itself out. No fuss. No muss.
On the same day, coincidentally, one of my favourite bloggers, Therese J. Borchard who writes an eclectic, spiritually inspirational and often surprisingly practical blog called Beyond Blue, posted a piece on PsychCentral's World of Psychology called 5 Clues You Should Be Letting Go of Something.
It really hit home. I was guilty on almost all five counts. I discovered that the answer to "letting go" is to be willing to change. To take action. Sounds simple, but change is probably the toughest thing anyone can do.
Ironically, this is one of the models I teach in my "Leadership in Society" course at Seneca. It's well-explained in the text, Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make a Difference.
The essence of leadership is change.
This model is called "Knowing-Being-Doing" or "Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills" or "Head-Heart-Practice." The U.S. Military coined the phrase "Know-Be-Do."
Knowing – "Know thyself" – means knowing yourself and others, how change occurs and how and why others may view things differently than you do.
Being – means being open to differences and valuing other perspectives.
Doing – means you must act. Take action! Practice listening skills, coalition building, interpersonal communication skills and effective conflict resolution.
My favourite Barack Obama-ism is his habit of listening carefully, actively, and thoughtfully to people from all sides of any question and then admitting honestly, "I respect your point of view and your opinion, but I'm afraid in this case, we're going to have to agree to disagree."
Whenever I use this approach, conversation doesn't stop. It continues and flows – because it's respectful.
Everybody wants to feel respected.
Most of our interpersonal problems stem from communication problems. Lack of listening. Which leads to miscommunication and compounded problems.
Between communications and miscommunications, messages are confused. Emotions flare. Anxieties. Anger. Both blinding. And Bingo! Feelings bruise. Communication breaks down, or stops entirely.
That was the life-lesson I learned this weekend when I was able to resolve my problem and to let it go, at last.
It felt extraordinary. That's why I'm floating right now.
Be well and thanks for listening.