In difficult situations I sometimes find myself experiencing deja vu. It is as if the universe brings an old lesson to me to see if I am paying attention. It seems like there are lessons that I am learning again and again and the universe is just checking to see how far I’ve come on it. It’s not easy to recognize our patterns but as we age we can sometimes see the themes repeating themselves. Each time we have the opportunity to change the ending ever so slightly for the better.
You might notice this too – how situations in our lives repeat themselves. I’ve heard it said that even in relationships that fall apart, oftentimes we rush back to that same point with a new partner. We’re with someone new and yet having those same conflicts all over again. This happens in all our lives. Our job is to learn from those situations so that we may move forward. Instead of repeating the same cycle again and again.
This can be easier said than done. To help myself I’ve started using my emotions as guideposts. I do this by feeling my emotions while also being attentive to what they’re telling me. Especially really strong emotions like anger, fear, or any derivative of those two. When I feel these super strong emotions they are indicators that my boundaries have not been respected, or that I feel particularly unsafe or insecure. The emotional guideposts are messages and our job is to pay attention and figure out what it is they are telling us. Our emotions are there for a reason.
Recently a familiar lesson has come around again for me. It is frustration at a perceived lack of control – my inclination is always to take over and be in charge. Pick me and I can do it, oldest child reporting for duty. But instead of having the power to fix the situation I find myself confronted with obstacles. There are obstinate conflicts and other people in the way. In fact, they are the owners of the situation and my role is to step back and let them.
It’s a tricky lesson to learn. As many of you already know, letting people manage their own situations is a challenge. It’s easy to get drawn in – but the lesson is that this is not my situation to fix. I am only here to do my work, not anyone else’s. Period.
This realization usually comes after a lot of emotional investment or self-righteous anger – both signals that we want to recognize. This time I noticed my emotional guideposts. What’s even better was when I recognized the situation I knew what to do, I needed to step back and realign. Oprah says she recognizes these situations by saying, “I see you God!” And I think that perspective is so refreshing. That’s the message – these situations and our emotional guideposts are not here for us to stumble. They are here to help us on our path. If we are overly invested and involved in everyone else’s drama, problems, or challenges we are certainly NOT focused on our own journeys.
There’s a Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Whenever I feel the temptation to involve myself in a project or situation that is not mine I remind myself to step back. The phrase makes me laugh and helps me to clearly define my role. I’m not here to manage the world. I am only here to manage myself and learn all that I can about myself and what it means to be me.
How do you remind yourself to stay in your own lane? What lessons do you find the universe bringing into your life over and over again? How have you changed your own patterns for the better?