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It’s Time for Another Paradigm Shift

Rachel Alexander Sept. 18, 2018

{5 minutes to read}  We don’t necessarily need victims in order to be heroes.

In divorce, it’s quite typical to feel victimized, even to be victimized, and yet there is still the opportunity to dig in to what and who you want to be.

Try this analogy:

Competitive swimmers reach the pool wall and use its unmovable solidity to their benefit. They anticipate it. They use it strategically to flip and push off with full force. They incorporate it into their stroke and integrate it into the next lap. Its dependable resistance is invaluable for power and speed. The walls are part of the swimmer’s rhythm, breathed into, appreciated, and utilized.

Swimmers do not argue against the walls or wish them away. Neither do they spend energy urging the walls to be other than exactly what they are.

There is something inherently wise here. Can this approach be utilized on land? How might it reshape our relationship to the walls we are up against? Might our issues and hardships be used as pushing off points? Could our attitude to hindrances, rather than the hindrances themselves, be what needs shifting? What if this tact develops our resilience, even our excellence?

What would happen if we were to push off from the walls in our own lives? Perhaps pushing away from a toxic relationship empowers a “reset” of standards and goals for what is wanted; perhaps it helps us fiercely refine and redefine what is acceptable.

Instead of waving fists at the wind, we build windmills.

An Antiquated Approach (aka What Doesn’t Work but Is Continuously, Futilely Attempted.)

One tried, true, and totally ineffective technique people use in dealing with what’s not wanted is rationalization and false cheerfulness, also called self-deception, denial, pretending. Trying to water something down by essentially arguing against oneself and one’s experience. Trying to convince oneself how horrible it isn’t, in order to make it more palatable, just doesn’t work.

Now instead of being with yourself as you actually are experiencing things, you have split off and are arguing against yourself and your perception of reality. This is not the same as contemplating or sitting with something and processing it through. This is more a turning away from, a refusal to be with what is presenting itself for you in the moment.

What kind of Olympic swimmer would rationalize or deny a wall? In arguing against the wall’s location he would lose the opportunity to fully utilize it to meet his goal — and he’d miss its value.

A New Approach

The anticipation and the inclusion of what we previously understood as unwanted aspects in our lives can make them natural pivot points that we use to further our greater journey. My hypothesis is this: If an unwanted experience is met squarely with both eyes open, without trying to perform alchemy upon it, it can be treated as a launching point — a platform to reset, with solid bent legs, force, and energy for the next lap, the leanest speed, and the cleanest stroke.

Could we choose a more Taoist (Tai Chi-esque) relationship with everything in a force/counterforce manner, instead of advancing to battle, whatever stands in our way? Stumbling blocks can be commuted to stepping stones for reaching new spheres. Hurdles need not be greeted as if they were insults or attacks on what we think “should be.” These so-called hindrances may contain the very components needed to furnish our journey forward. Even if this entire thesis is meritless, flawed or simply incorrect, I still assert that adopting this approach — this “obstacle attitude” — could still be transformative and bear fruit.

Surviving difficulties is not being Pollyanna-ish or unrealistic, or denying whatever reality is. This approach could widen our experience of life and reduce our fear of the unexpected and unwanted things that occur for all of us. If these experiences can be approached differently with a Focusing attitude of interested curiosity, with the belief that approaching and addressing them could result in actually more of what is wanted … this could shift everything into possibility.

The Chinese word for “crisis” contains two characters, translated as “fear” and “opportunity.” Both are required to make the word. I’m proposing we aim to hold gentle, equal space for both.