This true story has occurred several times, in various configurations over the last six months to people in our Level 1 training.
Larry had to make a decision between two, mutually exclusive choices and the internal pressure was building. He was emotionally distraught, immobilized and unable to sleep or think clearly. The situation: His elderly father was fixated on visiting his native country that was now experiencing violent, political upheaval. If Larry refused to go with him, his dad was intent upon traveling alone. Larry didn't want to go and didn't want him to go alone. If he went, he would experience his old life-habits of pleasing others and not standing up for himself. If he didn't go, he would experience his life-habit of guilt. Through the tools of Level 1, he had been working successfully at releasing these non-supportive habits and now he was right in the thick of it...again.
There is always another choice and nine times out of ten, it is simple and easy to act upon, yet hidden by the emotions of the moment. Once we stand back, regroup and ask a better question, the next possible choice will reveal itself. Getting to that place of neutrality however, can be tricky because sometimes the programming within us is to panic, argue or resist. This only makes the situation more intense and the likelihood of the other choice revealing itself, more remote.
Larry stopped, took a deep breath, chose the easier of the two choices (traveling with his dad) and asked a better question, "How would it be possible for me to have a good time here?" Together, we came up with several possibilities. He could visit surrounding, less violent, cities. They could enjoy good food, local parks, the sea nearby and seasonal cultural events. Larry also identified a series of old friends, relatives and places where they could safely stay and visit.
By the end of a very short series of emails, Larry was no longer resisting the possibility of joining his father and actually said, "Maybe I could go and have a good time. Maybe this option isn’t so bad. Maybe this will work for me." Larry was able to shift his focus from the stress and worry of two undesirable choices and reach a place of Maybe. It felt like a long exhale to him. Everything about him relaxed. The choice was no longer black and white. Larry discovered aspects that would be fun and enjoyable and was actually looking forward to the trip with his dad.
A few weeks later, I received another email from Larry. He told the story of how, the very day after he got out of resistance to traveling with his dad, his dad called to say he changed his mind and didn't want to go anymore! The Power of Maybe.
Larry was not able to get himself untangled from his emotions and stress alone. With a little help from someone detached and uninvolved, he very quickly returned to a place of neutrality and ease.
It was in that place of Maybe that he could see his other choices. If you find yourself in such a predicament, find a coaching-partner. (I suggest you find one before you actually need assistance.) This isn't someone who will gossip or wallow in your misery with you. This is someone who can stay neutral, behind the Rose tool and ask the right questions to help you untangle yourself.
This is someone whom you can also assist when he needs an objective ear. Create action steps together and a set of open-ended questions. A place to begin is, "If I just pretend, how would it be possible to adjust one of these choices to make it more attractive and fun?"