Life is full of hard things that need our attention, and we have to make a choice about them. Choice number one: We can do the hard thing, and deal with the consequences. Choice number two: We can avoid doing the hard thing, and deal with those consequences. Or behind Door Number Three, we can change our perspective so the hard thing isn’t so hard, and then do it. And deal with those consequences, which psychologically and realistically speaking are probably somewhat less than the consequences from Doors One and Two.
When we pick the Change The Rules Door, we really are changing the rules that we’ve already accepted in our head about our situation. For instance, there is the rule that we’ve already accepted which says this situation we’re considering is a hard situation. That’s kind of a short hand way of saying ‘this situation is not desirable to be in, and I’d rather not be in it at all, and frankly, it’s going to leave a mark on me I’d rather not have. I would rather be somewhere else, and maybe even someone else.’
Now, you may think to yourself, ‘no, Sare, really. It really is a hard situation, and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be freaking out about it.’ If you can get your head around the idea that the hard situation you find yourself in is hard, partly, because of your own perspective on it, and not hard, entirely, as an objective reality, then you can change the rules. And if you can’t, then you can’t. But isn’t it worth trying?
STEP NUMBER ONE: Vent. Safely.
Step number one is to vent, but safely. This means that you need to tell at least one other soul what is going on and why you think the situation is hard, though likely if you think it is hard, it will be obvious to whomever you tell.
However, choose your confidant wisely. Make sure that you are telling someone who will not only be sympathetic to you, but also helpful. How can you tell who to talk to? The helpful person doesn’t turn your hard situation into an even bigger drama. The helpful person doesn’t vilify whomever else might be involved in your hard situation. The helpful person will be thrilled for you if you came back in a week and explain how your hard situation actually dissolved into something easier to deal with. The helpful person, under no circumstances, is someone who says ‘I told you so.’
If you’re thinking about the possible confidants in your life and coming up with zero that meet the measure, don’t panic! This is actually what therapists are for. Most therapists worth their salt will ask in the first meeting, ‘So what made you seek therapy today?’ And a totally valid answer is, ‘Well, I’m facing this hard situation and I realized that I didn’t trust any of the people I know to respond in a totally helpful fashion. I needed to talk to someone who would.’
And if you think to yourself, ‘yeah, but I don’t have a therapist, and I’m not in a position to go out and get one,’ I highly suggest you use the search engine of your choice and look up ‘online therapy’.
No matter where you live, no matter who you are, we all can have access to someone we can vent to, safely.
STEP NUMBER TWO: Acquire healed perspective.
Step number two is to acquire healed perspective, and the best way to do that is to pray, or meditate, depending on your spirituality. (Different technique, same result.) Ask whomever it is guiding you to heal your perspective. Let it be your mantra. Give yourself several days.
(I’ve actually just created a guided meditation on this, which will be up on Monday – when it’s live, I’ll edit this post and add a link here.)
When we choose a mantra like this and let it sink into our bones, say it all the time, write it on our hands, put it on post it notes around the house, it’s not an immediate change that necessarily happens. It’s gentle. And we just start seeing things differently. And before we start seeing things differently, we’re suddenly presented with the thought that we could see something differently and we get to choose to see the old way, or the new way. And the more often we choose to see the new way, the more often a new way will occur to us, and eventually seeing things in a new way with healed perspective will be automatic.
STEP NUMBER THREE: Take action.
Once we’ve vented safely, acquired some healed perspective, it becomes easier than ever to take action and the action in question – because we’ve prayed for healed perspective – is much more likely to be right action, the sort of action that causes the least amount of pain and anguish for everyone involved, and the action that promotes the most amount of healing possible to everyone involved. Right action also tends to be easier to take, in addition to having fewer undesirable consequences.
And to keep it real, I went through all these steps, today.
AN EXAMPLE: Sare, and the Patreon Email
So today I was faced with a hard decision. Really, I’d been faced with it for the last two weeks, and I’d been steadfastly choosing Door Number Two, ‘Run the hell away’, since I first got a friendly notice from an internet service I use, suggesting how best to use it. Now, that doesn’t seem at all dramatic, but what if I told you it involved asking my best friends for money? I don’t know about you, but just the idea nearly had me breaking out into hives. I’d really rather starve in the hedgerows, as Mrs. Bennet so aptly put it, then ask my friends for money.
That friendly service I use is Patreon, which is an online mechanism that allows patrons of artists and content creators to support the people who create what they love, and that support can be as little as $1 a month. In fact, I’ve used Patreon for years to support two artists whose art I quite appreciate. And I give them each $1 a month. Patreon can be used as a tip jar, with the digital equivalent to a donation of loose change, or it can be a mechanism for some serious patronage, because that monthly donation can be just as large as the patron wants it to be.
As I’m starting to be a content creator on YouTube (check out the channel here!), and providing free spiritual services to whomever comes across them on the Internet, I absolutely wanted to set up my own Patreon page so that people could support me if they found my content particularly useful. And of course, as an incentive to donate, Patreon lets creators like me offer exclusive content to patrons.
Okay. This wasn’t hard for me to get on board with, and in fact, it seemed like a no-brainer. I’d be happy to provide some sneak-peaks, some behind-the-scenes stuff if people are willing to make a donation to the tip jar.
But there’s a thing about tip jars. It’s a psychological thing, and Patreon was not the first one to point it out to me. An entrepreneurial friend was. Every tip jar needs to be primed. Why? People are more likely to put some change in a jar that already has some change in it. And they’re more likely to put a dollar bill in it if they already see some folded cash in there. Whenever we were seeking non-profit donations together, this friend would always pull out a couple of bills from his wallet and stuff them in the jar, straight off, explaining that he can always take them back out again, if he needed to, not that this particular person ever did.
And so that email that I got two weeks ago pointed out that I really needed to ‘prime the pump’ on my tip jar. And ask a handful of friends and family members to support me on patreon for a few months, while I point out to those who consume my content that there is a tip jar, and they could use it if they wanted to. And in a couple of months when the tip jar has some contributors who don’t know me from Adam, except by the content I’ve created and they appreciate? Then my initial friends and family members can gracefully bow out and remove their monthly donation set up.
And even while that makes perfect rational sense, even while I could accept any one of these friends and family members buying me a fancy cup of coffee that would cost more than three months of a $1 donation on Patreon this was somehow so much heavier and harder a thing to imagine doing, to imagine asking for.
So eventually, I took step one. I talked with my husband about it. And out came all of the real reasons I had reservations about this. Deep seated stuff. I may have mentioned the desire to starve in the hedgerows before asking anyone for money. (Which is ironic, considering that I’m shameless in fundraising when its for someone or something else. I just couldn’t bring myself to imagine doing it for my own benefit.) And my husband, being who he is, was extremely helpful in providing the needed reality check.
Then I went off and did step two. Now, step two is also a mantra I’ve been working in the rest of my life for the last month and a half, so it was an easy reach for me, and soon enough I was calm and had some clarity on the subject.
And then step three just poured out: I now have a plan (this blog post is step one of said plan), and it’s reasonable, and I’m more or less ready to make this ask the ten people in my life who are least likely to tell me to go take a hike, and most likely to still talk to me after they read said email, no matter what they choose to do about the favor I’m about to ask.
And if you’re thinking, ‘well, I’ll just go and buck the trend, and make the first donation to Sare’s tip jar‘, please know that my husband just beat you to it. But your donation can go and join his, and so psychologically speaking, you won’t be alone in deciding to support me, if you’re in a place where you can.