Breakdowns Become Breakthroughs – But It May Take A Moment

We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us
so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid,
or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder.
We always have the choice.

Dalai Lama

A Facebook friend posted that quote early Monday morning. I “liked” it because I do, thought about commenting and realized that what I was going to say was more than a few lines, so here it is.

I immediately thought about my skin. When I’m under a lot of stress – psychological or physical – I develop dry patches that seem to flake off. They aren’t ugly per-say, but I’m aware of them and since I talk to people face to face for a living it is important that they feel free to open-up and not fixated on something that is unrelated to the conversation.

I moisturize, up my fish oil, make sure I’m well hydrated and have even more veggies, but this doesn’t always work. Sometimes the flaky skin needs to come off and that will leave parts of my face extremely red.

So back to the Dalai Lama’s comment that my friend posted. Experiences can either rub your skin and make it blister, or they can exfoliate the skin and bring forth new life. Either way, there is going to be some redness that isn’t exactly what everyone would consider youthful or beauty. But give it a moment in time and you’ll soon see what comes of it.

Life is suffering, dangerous and scary, but through the challenges we are given the opportunity to grow. We either grow stronger or weaker, but we never grow the same. Those who have breakthroughs exfoliate their life with the circumstances they are dealt or select. Those who remain stuck let life blister their life, leaving the scars that stop the new life from growing straight out.

My Strongest Trait – Analysis – Why My Relationships Breakdown

My interpersonal relationships began to go wrong when I started to suffer depression a year after Natalie died. My analytical strong trait developed as a way to cope with the feeling of being alone after Natalie broke-up with me and then died. It didn’t take hold until about a year later when my depression faded. I had been working diligently to uncover a solution to my grief and confusion and found that everything could be altered by changing the context. Life was then simple because all I needed to do was understand enough to change the context.

My relationship with Natalie was normal for a first relationship. Fun, passionate and fearless. The first part of it with Leigh was the same, along with spontaneous. But after the depression, I started to analyze things in a way to fix them. It’s a truism that a human being will stop what they are doing spontaneously EACH AND EVERY time something goes wrong. Most of our coping strategies are attempts to fix or avoid the things that we judge to be wrong.

I became and remain effective at identifying the things that aren’t working. This isn’t a problem for the most part, it made me an effective manager and trainer, and now serves me well as a performance coach, but it creates challenges that many people do not face with their relationships given that I’ll usually try to fix as opposed to accept my partners for who and what they are or graciously part ways with them. I work aggressively to correct the things I judge to be wrong; and with an alienating intensity that makes people back away. It will be even worse when someone mentions that they like to be challenged because I’m immediately enrolled in the process of their future optimization.

I LOVE the analysis! Human beings are programmed to find being right to be rewarding – we get jolt of neurotransmitters with every right answer we get or with every pattern we match. It stands to reason why I do this because I’m able to identify things that are wrong and get rewarded. But there is one major flaw in this which makes it unworkable in my interpersonal relationships – there is nothing wrong with the girls I date. All of them are amazing, highly intelligent people and are very highly functioning. Some optimization may be possible, but it isn’t needed. The types of people who are drawn to me tend to be fairly self aware, bright, articulate and passionate. They are looking for spontaneous partnerships and NOT a tune-up.

It’s clear that my strongest trait, the one that developed to keep me alive and reorganize my life after the almost unmanageable trauma of the premature and unexpected death of a loved one, served its purpose well. I’ve used it countless time to manage lesser traumas, a number of tough break-ups, and, ironically, it seems to be the cause of a greater amount of pain in my relationships than it now prevents. It’s a fantastic tool for work, I can uncover the things that aren’t working for my clients quickly and almost effortlessly. Efficient service and exceptional value are two things that clients deserve, but they are things that girl friends tend not to be in the market for.

My future is loaded with possibilities that didn’t exist before and in many ways they exist because of my strongest trait of analysis. My career has started and I’m closer to fulfilling my purpose. The quality of my relationships can improve with the expression of this trait outside of the context of them. For this piece of knowledge, I am grateful!