I remember the moment that changed things for me. I was sitting at a café with my lawyer. I was crying – tears streaming down my face – and all that was going through my head was “I can’t live like this!” “I can’t keep going like this!” “when is this going to stop?” “how do I live like this?”
It was 4 years since my marriage ended. We had Consent Orders AND we’d been to Court. I had spent THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS on legal fees and weekly psychology visits – for years. But nothing had changed.
I sought out my lawyer once again because my kids Dad and I had been exchanging emails about an important issue and his replies were just abuse, denigration and un-shifting ignorance. This was my lowest point. I honestly didn’t know how I could go on.
While I don’t remember exactly what she said to me, the point my lawyer made was: “HE IS NEVER GOING TO CHANGE”. I knew that – and it was the source of my distress and heartache. And I asked her over and over, “what am I going to do? How do I live like this?” Her reply?
“THIS SITUATION IS NEVER GOING TO CHANGE unless you do.”
This made me cry even more. What could I do? How do I change when I’m not doing anything wrong; I’m not being unreasonable; I’m doing everything I possibly can!
My lawyer gave me advice specific to that situation and I acted on it. But the biggest and hardest lesson was acceptance.
I KNEW things were not going to change. There was no way my kids Dad was going to suddenly wake up and become reasonable, or inclusive, less vindictive or co-operative. It was never going to happen. So for as long as I engaged in communication with him, where that was a parameter for success, nothing was ever going to change.
I had to accept that things were how they were, and approach everything differently. It was difficult at first, because it required a shift in my thought processes. But once I did it a few times, it became my new habit. I still slip up now and again – but once I realise my mistake, I rectify it.
The motivator for me to write about this now, is that I see the same issues playing out in other people’s lives – some similar to mine and some vastly different.
Whether it’s a situation where step kids come every alternating weekend and terrorise your household, or your current partner always does a ‘thing’ that drives you insane and no amount of talking, pleading or crying changes things, the principal is the same.
Once you accept that there is nothing you can do to change the problem, you are POWERFUL in concocting a resolution. Why? Because it’s all up to you.
If you’re the one suffering because of a problem, you’re the one with the solution. Accept that the other person (or situation) isn’t going to change and make a change yourself.
Now it might be as simple as re-organising the children’s toys so they can be easily put out of reach of the step kids when they visit. Or, it might be some other solution, but the point is that if you accept the problem (rather than fighting it) YOU have the ability to do something about it. While the problem remains someone else’s fault – he’s unreasonable, they’re undisciplined, she’s messy\loud\an alcoholic – doing something about it is out of your control.
I promise you, regardless of the issue you’re facing, there is a solution. Sometimes, because we’re in the middle of the problem, it’s hard for us to see the options or have the tools or skills to make things different. Insight is much easier when you’re removed from the situation. It’s always easier to help our friends with their problems than fix our own. I offer 30 minute issue focussed coaching calls for this exact reason. If you have a problem or you’re struggling to see the forest for the trees – don’t sit with it for another day. Get support to make things different!