Anyone who is growing and developing will have to “reset” at some time (or several times) in their lives.
A crab periodically has to shed its shell. It is part of a natural growing process. The shell that has served it so well now is simply not big enough to hold the crab and so, even though the experience might feel uncomfortable, they discard their old shell without drama. In other words, they shed their shell when it is no longer useful.
As we humans grow then we too must shed our “shells” − that is to say, the strategies /adaptations that we acquired as children. These adaptations may have allowed us to survive our families; now they are simply not big enough to hold our lives and become a source of suffering.
Often, we are too busy to notice that it is time we changed, or if we do notice, we prefer to stay within our comfort zone; we doggedly follow familiar strategies, in spite of the anxiety, stress, anger. We are not happy but there is a kind of comfort in doing what we know. It might be for example, taking on or trying to solve everyone else’s problems, always “people pleasing”, being a perfectionist, always be “obliging”. It might be that we feel that we have to always be harshly critical of ourselves. It might be that we recognise that the relationship we are in is unhealthy but feel that we have to tough it out.
In all of these situations there is a compulsivity, a kind of obsessive need to keep ourselves constantly distracted with “important things”. Our perception becomes that of the chicken: unable to imagine more than the dirt and dust in its coop, it is condemned to live out its life obsessively scrabbling in the dust. By contrast, we all have within us the alternative perception, it is our birthright: the perception of the eagle − open, curious, adaptable and full of possibility.
The price of holding onto our shell when it is already too small for us is usually anxiety, anger, sadness, resignation, even depression. How do we handle this self-generated suffering? Well, like good consumers we “take something” − often alcohol, anxiety pills or antidepressives but it could also be other drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. We try to anaesthetise ourselves rather than dealing with what we have to deal with. This is addiction. Our addiction is often the thing we do instead of the thing that we really need to do: facing/resolving a bad marriage, integrating a trauma, transforming our relationship with a narcissistic mother, finishing a toxic or abusive relationship. We try to treat the symptoms rather than the cause.
What can we do? Take time out for yourself, alone without your partner, without your friends, without exciting or distracting activities, simply find a remote place and time to be with yourself. I would recommend at least a week. Once your chicken-mind quietens down, you will begin recover your eagle perspective. You will be able to better hear your intuition, that knowing-eagle part of you, your wisdom − a voice normally drowned out by the frenetic clucking of the rational mind. Now act on that wisdom.
Don’t listen to your excuses about how it would be simply impossible as you are far too busy. You will never find the time to do this. You must make the time!