Living on the other side

Living on the other side

Wondering what it takes to actually live the life you’ve dreamed of?  

What do you need to know before you take the leap into living your life differently?

The promised land, where your new story begins…

I have written here about the general arc of therapy we follow.  We have offered tips for maximizing each stage of therapy and we have written specifically about Phase Two – the grieving process.  Today, I want to write about the final phase of therapy – activating the true self you have discovered and walking in your new story.  

I have referred to the grieving phase as “the land between”, but embarking on this final phase of therapy is also a transitional season in a different way: A twilight zone between what you have deconstructed and completion of what you are constructing.  Anyone who has had a house built understands that it is a PROCESS!  One of fits and starts…which may find you living in temporary digs until the new house is ready.  Despite the best blueprints, some things just can’t be understood until you see the pieces in place and you may realize, that’s not what I thought it would be.  Back to the drawing board you go to choose a different faucet or refrigerator.  The whole thing takes time with all sorts of surprise obstacles, but perseverance leaves you with the home of your dreams.  

Moving from one house to another always illuminates your possessions in a fresh way, causing you to question why on earth you’ve kept certain things all these years.  Some beloved objects have to be released because they simply will not function or fit in the new home.  If you are living in temporary quarters, you are surrounded by the chaos of missing vital belongings that are in storage and not being able to permanently settle what you were able to keep with you.  Likewise, here are the discomforts that come with leaving behind the life you deconstructed:

  • Most of the relationships you had before therapy were chosen from the adaptive self you are shedding.  Hanging out with friends will often leave you wondering why on earth you tolerated the behaviors, talk and ways of thinking that you now see with clearer eyes.  You may find yourself regularly irritated by family members who operate out of the dysfunctional patterns you now recognize.  Bitterness and resentment become dragons requiring daily battle.   
  • These folks from your old life are used to the adaptive self you crafted and may not know what to do with who you are becoming.  They may not even like your true self, especially if you are no longer willing to offer what they used to get from you!  That rejection truly stings…
  • This season of therapy can be very lonely as you find yourself distancing from those who operate under your old rules, but you have not yet built healthy replacement relationships.  It can be incredibly tempting to return to aspects of the old adaptive self in the face of this loneliness.  Some fade out of the therapy process at this point but they cannot unknow what they have learned, making their compromise existence a cruel game.  
  • You may realize the job or career you are in is not a good fit for you.  Perhaps your job is actually a toxic environment.  Maybe the career field you spent thousands of dollars to prepare for will never align with what you now understand to be your strengths and what brings you fulfillment and joy.  Again, the decisions you made about work came from the adaptive self you are retiring, leaving you in a situation that is no longer workable.  
  • The old adaptive self is one you mastered.  You know how it works.  Saying no to the familiar is extremely difficult.   

Living in transition and setting up your new “home” comes with many challenges.  Temporarily crashing in someone else’s space is inconvenient, humbling and disorderly.  Even after you’ve moved to your new place, there’s usually a stage of, “I’ve made a terrible mistake – why did I move here?” before you start meeting neighbors and finding new favorite restaurants and local activities to love.  It’s the same when the rubber of therapy meets the road of life:

  • The new ways of thinking and behaving that will take you in the direction you want to go will feel awkward and clumsy.  Very quickly, you begin to wonder if you can really pull this new story off as you move toward new friendships, romance, faith, calling, etc.  
  • When our brains have been normed to the stimulation of dysfunctional life patterns, healthy people and activities will feel boring at best, downright unattractive at worst.  It takes time to rewire the brain to enjoy this new existence.  
  • You must retrain the people in your life, how to interact with you.  This takes work and will not likely be well received.  Conflicts will arise.  A few will make it through this process, many will fade away or depart in a fiery blaze.  Are we willing to let go of those who cannot steward well, who we are becoming?   
  • For all of these reasons, embracing the true self is terrifying.  Offering a committed “YES” to that which is true of you demands Courage with a capital C.  Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and moving forward anyway.  That is the very definition of Phase Three therapy at Phenix!    

Many people assume that once they have done the work of deconstruction and grieving, they need only find healthy people who have also done their work and relationships will be easy-peasy.  Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.  Healthy relationships between mature individuals take work but I can promise that it is fulfilling work.  Forcing dysfunctional relationships to run is devastating work.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather do the fulfilling work of assessing acquaintances for core relational competencies, learning and teaching about the nuances of each others’ personalities, building trust, and allowing others to meet our appropriate needs as we meet theirs.  (Many clients find relying on others one of the most difficult steps to master.)   

Then there is an aspect of this phase that I don’t think we talk about enough: It is one thing to intellectually assent to what was lost or never provided.  It is another thing altogether to experience life as it should be – the dynamics you didn’t have before.  Such experiential understanding ushers in a new level of grieving.  This is a surreal, dual experience: moving forward in building the new story while simultaneously holding space for the sadness that comes with truly understanding what you were missing.  

The foundational principle to establishing the new “home”, the true self, the new story, is the fact that commitment and action precedes emotion.  You will not feel like doing the things that need to be done.  Yet, we do not advocate a “fake it till you make it” approach.  It’s not about bumbling around, creating a new adaptive self in hopes of getting what you want.  It is about tuning in to what is true about you and aligning your actions with that truth versus the lies your old self believed.  It’s mindfully walking in truth until your brain, body and soul have enough experience to actually believe it.  It is one of the scariest processes you will ever undertake in life.  Courage will be required in Costco-sized amounts but the payoff is worth it, just like that dream house we get to live in when the moving truck pulls away, the boxes are unpacked and the interior design has been fully executed.  All those months of planning, crisis response, expense, letting go, cleaning, organizing, learning, choosing and moving are absolutely worth all the trouble!     

Receive exclusive content when you sign up for our newsletter. Each month, get updates on what is happening in the Phenix community along with exclusive resources you won't find on our blog or social media sites. It starts right away with strategies to use when 'self care' feels like more of a bother than a help.

Sign Up

Speak Your Mind

*




Orlando, FL

info@phenixcounseling.com
(407) 476-6041

Got Questions?
Send a Message!