Break the chains that bind – Part 2

Break the chains that bind – Part 2

In the last article, I left you with the idea that accepting joy as our birthright is a very good first step to living joyfully. That the mere fact of understanding that ‘trying’ to find joy goes against the grain of actually living that joy. And that accepting this as one of our truths is similar to one of the ingredients in our recipe for living a happy life.

Now that this tidbit of information has been (hopefully) digested, what’s next? Going back to the woman in the previous article, I asked her what her ‘image’ of happiness was. He wanted to see if she really knew what would make her happy (or what she thought she was). It has been a recurring theme in most of the coaching I have done; most people have no idea. Most of the time, they will usually tell me what they DON’T want, but I rarely listen to what they DO. They can’t imagine it or they think it’s some kind of elusive mystery that must unfold before they can realize any semblance of true joy. The operative word here is MYSTERY.

In this particular case, my client said that she thought that if her husband and children appreciated her more, she would be happy. She felt as if nothing she did mattered. Her life was a monotonous series of repetitive errands, chores, and meaningless chores. She had ‘no purpose’. The fact that she was able to tell me this very clearly was a fantastic start. In fact, she knew how she felt about herself and had identified a specific thing that she believed would make her “feel joy.” He was quite pleased with her ability to identify anything at the moment.

So I asked her to think about how she would feel if she got the appreciation she wanted so badly. What would her husband and her children have to DO for her to feel appreciated? And, once they did whatever it was, how would those things manifest in terms of changing how she felt she now she? He wanted her to see a very clear picture of those feelings. I asked him to think about these things until our next meeting.

A week later, we met again. This time, at her request, we settled in her house. I got the feeling that she wanted me to ‘see’ the life she was living. In her estimation, it was a hollow existence, devoid of any meaning or purpose. And she was going to prove it by getting me into her house. The moment I walked through the door, I knew exactly what she was trying to show me. The house was beautiful, with luxurious furnishings and a stunning view of the ocean. There were plenty of windows from which to enjoy the views. There was a huge living room, complete with a stone fireplace and overstuffed chairs. Expensive works of art hung on the walls. It was the kind of house you might see in Better Homes & Gardens.

But there was also a very cold feeling in the house. The fireplace, which was quite impressive in itself, was clean as a whistle. Not an ash in sight. The decks outside the main living room were furnished with beautiful furniture, all covered in plastic. The entire house was immaculate… kind of like a model home. No one was ‘living’ there. Even the children’s rooms were spotless. As if they didn’t exist. It was a cold and sterile house, not a home. I was immediately struck by the courage of this woman. She was giving me her soul by inviting me in, and I was seeing a very clear picture of why she felt that way.

He made a cup of coffee and I asked if we could sit outside on the terrace. We go outside, remove the plastic from the furniture and sit down to talk. I was a bit nervous as we sipped our coffee in silence. I asked her what was wrong. She said that she hadn’t sat there in a long time. Why not? She said that she did not like to sit alone and that no one in her family was available to share it with her. Bingo. Now we are getting somewhere.

For the next hour, I asked about interactions, activities, etc. of the family. When was the last time you sat down to dinner together? Did you ever allow the kids to have sleepovers? Why not? What about barbecues? Have you ever invited friends to cook? No. In short, with every question I asked, the answer was ‘they are too busy’. So, it was not at all that she felt unappreciated. It was about her not participating in the life of her family. She hadn’t noticed her, but by trying not to upset her ‘routines’, she just wasn’t committed. There was without family.

When I offered him this idea, he began to cry. Lasted. He hadn’t told her anything she didn’t already know. I just said it out loud. And he scared the hell out of her. She cried for quite a few minutes, until she finally looked at me and said, “how do I change it?” That was her next task. I asked her to think of one thing she could do to change her day patterns. One thing. I also asked him to demand (not ask) that her husband and her children have dinner TOGETHER at least once in the next week. During dinner, she was to share her needs with them. She was to come forward and let them know what she had ‘discovered’ and how she was going to start making changes to be included in her life. She was not to blame them, but rather to share what she had learned about herself. Without pointing a finger at her. No guilt trips.

She agreed to take on this challenge. By the time I left, she could feel a lightness in her mood and was very excited about the next meeting we had scheduled for the following week.

The results of your ‘assignment’ will end this series… Part 3 to follow~

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