It’s a well-known truism that if something isn’t “broke”–like a car or something you depend on–you don’t mess with it. “Mess with it” meaning attempting to fix it. Which really means “making it better.” Because what’s the point? The argument is that if something is working properly, even if it’s not especially cool or “new,” it still works…so monkeying around with it could go badly.
It’s not a bad principle. Until it breaks.
In our society, even post- “Great Recession” (assuming you believe the premise that we are, in fact, “post”), we’ve become accustomed to just throwing things away when they are broken. Which is odd, since people post-Depression rarely threw anything away, even when it was broken. They’d fix it.
The Banker’s Light Fiasco
Many years ago I worked in a small, 3rd generation office supply store. The prices were a bit higher than the big box stores we’re used to now, but they had great service and many products you simply couldn’t get elsewhere. Like the banker’s light you see above. It’s mine. I’ve owned it almost 20 years. So, when the irresistible force of something that had been hanging in my office decided to let go, the lamp became the immovable object that stopped it. Until it couldn’t.
Looking at the collected remains, and tentatively putting a few together–like a nightmare jigsaw puzzle, I decided it was worth fixing. What you see is the result. Super-glue to the rescue! Where the bits of glass were too far gone to redeem, I filled in the void with clear caulking.
Viola! Good as new…and it looks cooler, too.
Come on! You know it looks gnarly and you want one now. Word of advice: make stuff “broke” carefully…
Go For “Broke”
OK, so I fixed a busted lamp. Is there a metaphor here? Indeed, there is.
When a relationship looks like the lamp, what does our culture advocate? Dump it. Dump the loser. It’s broke. Get a new one. Move on and let go. That viewpoint is everywhere in social media. This comes from a Facebook post of a friend:
Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you and make you happy. If you have people who do none of the above, let them go.
Am I so naive as to think that all relationships must be continued, even when toxic? Of course not. But here’s the rub. Where do you see toxic in the maxim above? Doesn’t the manifesto strike you as, at least, a little too egocentric? More to the point, who really just discovers one day that they have relationships with people who aren’t like this? Wouldn’t that say more about their own motivations?
5 Steps to More Satisfaction in Life
Lose the sense of royal disdain. Just because someone in your life doesn’t fulfill Your Highness’s needs all the time, show some royal grace. You might be the grump someday. It could happen.
Get your vision checked. Rather than going through your day like Mr. Magoo, see whose life you can bring love, motivation, encouragement and inspiration to. Let them be in charge of their own happiness.
Own your own. Look after your own happiness. Really. We need others, yes. But not to the extent we dump them when they fail to meet our lengthy list of expectations.
Seek out discomfort. Have you ever learned something, been enhanced or motivated…by someone that just rubbed you wrong? Thought so.
Seize the day. When relationships are less than satisfying, try fixing them first. Work at it. Consume and discard people at your own risk. One day, you might be the one “let go.”
Engage here. What are your thoughts? Agree? Strongly disagree? For more steps to living a satisfied life, click here.
Showers, for some reason, tend to be a place where we believe we are “in our own world.” For many people, the shower is the one and only place where you can overhear them singing. I don’t know why that is. It’s not like the shower stall is somehow sound proof, but we often behave as if it is. It’s kind of funny, really.
Maybe it’s because we are already stripped away of everything else, that we might as well follow through with what’s natural. So we sing out loud, strong and clear, buck naked! (more…)
Writing this song was a very therapeutic experience for me. It allowed me to express myself when there really was no other way to do it. I had been putting off really looking this pain in the face for close to a year but finally sat down and allowed myself to put on paper words that had been swimming around my head for way too long.
Relationships are complicated. Period. But many things play a part in that, some internal dynamics and some external and sometimes both.
Several years ago, I experienced a time that I believe was caused by both. The end result of an event left me feeling very alone. Up to that point I felt I had found friends that were closer than even family.
However when that event took place several friends just checked out. One person even told me, “Don’t tell me what happened because I don’t want to have to make changes to my life.”
But one friend went out of her way to talk about the issue several times. We then just agreed that things were different but that our relationship would carry on. So we made time to continue our relationship. We moved forward with the understanding that our relationship was one built not on just convenience but commitment.
Her gesture meant the world to me and we are still good friends even though she has since moved away.
I guess one of the pluses with family conflict is that you are permanently connected either by blood or marriage so you often are put in a position of having to, at least internally, revisit why you are in conflict. You have to re-decide if the topic is really that big a deal or not. Sometimes it is a big deal and you have to come up with a creative way to be around that individual as little as possible. But other times you can decide to move past it.
A counselor friend of mine shared with me something insightful. She said that we all have our own Social Skills Toolbox. Some people have more tools inside than others. These tools are normally given to us growing up or even in counseling. We use our tools within our relationships to understand each other and be able to see things from each others perspectives.
However, sometimes relationships come to a crossroads. This happens when one of the parties has tools to deal with the situation that the other doesn’t. The end result being that the one minus the tools disengages from the relationship.
Painful but true.
An interesting thing happened the week after I wrote this song. A second friend of mine contacted me and said, “Hey I want you back in my life.” I couldn’t help notice that I felt ready to move forward.
Spending time writing this song and reflecting on the situation gave me the tools I needed to reach a resolution with that person. The changes in some of my relationships may not be something I will ever understand because the reasons may be much more complicated than I can comprehend now. But who knows…Maybe Someday.
Have you ever had an event impact an important friendship in your life? How did it go? Are you friends now?
We looked at the very real possibility that we, intentionally or otherwise, might be the very “black crabs” to those around us. While wishing for a little support in making progress towards our goals (like a shove from a black crab, rather than a tug), we may, at the same time, actually be the tugging black crab to someone else’s efforts at positive change and growth. Ouch.
Have you ever felt inner tension at your place in life? Struggled with a desire for “more,” whether it was “more money,” “more job,” “more fulfillment,” “more happiness,” “more friendship,” “more sense of purpose,” “more ____________?” The chances are extraordinarily high that you have. And that you do.
“Black Crab” Big Business
According to one statistic, the self-help industry amounted to over $10.5 billion in 2010. That’s a lot of self-help, don’t you think? Maybe this is why the industry has a perhaps well-earned nickname: shelf-help. Meaning that the delivery system for the eagerly-sought self-help (book, DVD, 3-ring bound course, audio series…) ended up on a shelf, instead of meaningfully absorbed into the self who bought the help, in the first place.
Is it possible, then, that the seeker of the self-help actually impedes their own growth?
Sure. I believe this happens all the time. As I mentioned in my last post, like a crab seeking to escape its bucket, people are driven to reach for more out of life, to move beyond their “bucket” of limitations. Deep down, the belief that there is a wide-world out there, full of opportunity and adventure, pushes us to reach for the lid of the metaphorical bucket. And sometimes, our dreams are dashed because of a dream-deprived loser, suffering from negativity and fear, who is one of the black crabs in our life. But, then, perhaps we are sometimes that black crab in someone else’s life.
However, most often, we let go of the lid. We pull the ripcord. Bail. Implode. Give up. Lose faith. Self-destruct. We “black crab” ourselves.
I’ve experienced this self-induced crab-melt in my life, and I’ve seen it in countless people in my professional life. It’s crazy-making.
Makes you wonder—why is that? That’s where we’re going in the final installment of As the Crab Turns….
What are your thoughts on this? Is self-help good? Bad? Both?
This is a song I wrote for my sister, Catherine, and her husband, FJ, for their wedding day (Catherine & FJ Abaya). At the time I had to sing it acapella because my hands still hurt so much. This made me very nervous, but after singing acapella on the cruise ship, I was determined to do it! I hoped it would be a blessings for their ceremony, as well as a chance for me to pray out loud my hope for their life together.
When it came time to record this song I was ecstatic to surprise them with me accompanying myself on the guitar.
This song underlines the importance of having God woven into your marriage, “three cords combined.” Life can provide you with joyful times but also many challenges and disappointments. Sometimes circumstances around you can get so bad that it can use up everything you’ve got! When two people who love each other are both dealing with their own difficult situations at the same time it can get really rocky. God can be that third cord to keep you strong and keep from breaking apart.
If you ever find yourself wondering who it is you are living with and even questioning whether you like them.
You are just normal!
We all unknowingly bring so much of our past experiences into our lives that we don’t always see the other for who they are but either who they remind us of or even who we wish they would be. It’s important to stop and recognize this.
We need to get our heads wrapped around the fact that we are all broken doing the best we can with the tools we were given.
It’s also important to be open to the fact that we could learn more through counseling.
Counseling has been a helpful tool we have referred to off and on throughout our marriage. It’s part of the reason we have made it this far.
I encourage you to embrace your spouse and the fact that you are both imperfect and can still learn and grown no matter how long you have been married.
Ultimately though, welcome God into your marriage every day. He can give us compassionate ears that can listen to our spouse when we really don’t want to. He can give us self control when all we want to do is scream about our own boss, or our own relational situations. It is purely by the strength of God that we can have what it takes to care for each other in the midst of our own stuff.
Seriously, let God give you what you need to be there for each other. Don’t turn your pain into a competition, where you compare who has the worst situation. Everyone’s feelings count. We normally know this but when we are hurting it’s hard to think clearly. Remember you are a team. You two are one, but you don’t need to do it alone! Praise God!!
Can you relate? What are some tips that have been helpful in your marriage?