The gift of sitting with the tension of the opposites


Have you ever felt being tugged in two opposite directions or emotions and you’re torn about what to do? This is how it can shows up in my life:

  • feeling afraid and yet having high expectations (hey money, I’m looking at you)
  • loving a family member dearly and yet feeling the pressure and obligation of needing to provide
  • empathising with my child for all she has gone through and also feeling utter disappointment for her results

When tension shows up for me, I tend to do one of the following.

– avoid (hey hey that Netflix show looks mighty good!)

– procrastinate looking at it and what it meant for me and how I can navigate through this

– SQUASH down how I feel because I’m trying to follow some kind of rulebook of how a good Faith / spouse / daughter / leader / mom should look like.

Have you been here before too?

I was sitting at my desk today when I thought about that uncomfortable situation again. And it was something that I knew I could not avoid for long because it’s also a family member I was dealing with.

So I started audio journaling today and came up with the steps to unpack what was really happening and what is something I could land on that creates peace for myself.

Step 1: What’s really going on?

This is where I get to be brutally honest with myself. What happened, what did I notice and what were my thoughts and feelings. This is where I allow myself to ramble on in my recording and to feel heard (even if by myself).

Step Two: Hold the judgement. And… where do I feel trapped in?

This is where I narrow down to the exact duality that got me to feel trapped. In this case, I identified that the other party was hinting at me to give more. But I didn’t want to because I knew that I don’t have the means and neither am I willing to.

The fact that it is a beloved family member, makes the situation even more touchy. This whole situation makes me feel even more dread and heaviness.

Step Three: What were the two outcomes that I was holding myself to?

When I noticed myself in a duality, I noticed I tend to get stuck into thinking that I only have two choices. And unfortunately those choices are highly unappetising.

However in life, there’s really more choices out there. And the key to seeing those choices is to ask questions. The ones I’ve found helpful are:

  • What am I making the situation mean about me?
  • Am I willing to PAUSE judgement on myself and the other party?
  • What am I not willing to be or feel in this situation?
  • What are my non-negotiations in this situation?
  • Excluding the non-negotiations, where else do I see possibilities?

Back in the case of my family member, I noted that while I am not willing to give more money (my non-negotiation), I am however willing to spend time and energy with him on helping him coming up with ideas where he can support himself.

Once I came to that realisation, the tightness in my chest ease and I experienced expansion instead. I felt at peace with the solution and went ahead to offer that to him.

I‘m sure more tensions await me as I grow older year by year. My kids are gonna become teens, I’m approaching my 50s soon, my cherished relationships are also maturing too.

Plus AI is fast emerging, disrupting the workforce, business and relationships that we have held on too for the past several years.

Have you ever held your own tensions too?

What do you do with them?

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