On this Solar Eclipse + New Moon in Scorpio, a time of both new beginnings and death, I want to look at hidden ways we resist change, instead of letting things die/transform, and how we can soften this resistance to usher in growth and abundance.
If you grew up in a wounded family system, you likely have rules, both conscious and unconscious, that dictate what your role is and what you can hope to expect in relationships.
For instance, I inherited a rule that says I must prove myself to be constantly useful or I’ll be instantly discarded.
According to this (bullshit) rule, I don’t possess intrinsic worth.
Instead, my value must be continually demonstrated by anticipating what the other person wants and doing/being that.
Needless to say, this is super duper exhausting, and it comes prepackaged with all sorts of sub-rules to keep me in line with the main objective of proving my worth.
(Equally bullshit) sub-rules include:
- Not setting boundaries, because if someone needs me I better be available! Otherwise, they’ll just ditch me and find someone more agreeable.
- Matching people’s moods and opinions to keep the peace. My own thoughts and feelings? Just cram those down so they won’t make people uncomfortable.
- Never letting someone know if they’ve hurt my feelings or if I need something different than what they’re offering. This’ll automatically be seen as too needy and high maintenance, and I’ll get the boot.
Over the years, as I’ve worked on dismantling these rules (an ongoing process), I’ve gathered some useful observations, clues that help me spot when I’m getting lost in people pleasing and worth proving.
One clue is when I’m spending a lot of time and energy trying to “figure out” the relationship.
This might include agonizing over a text exchange, puzzling over how to say something without “making” them angry, or resentfully wondering why they aren’t intuiting what I need.
Nine Ten times out of ten, tying my neurons into knots over a relationship is a sign that I’m attempting to make it work without feeling what I feel, thinking what I think, or needing what I need.
For instance, instead of setting a boundary…
…letting the other person know that I’m not able to talk on the phone every day, I’m trying to figure out how to protect my time and energy while being what they want me to be.
This is often when we resort to less skillful tactics, like making passive-aggressive comments, avoiding people as our anxiety soars through the roof, or talking shit behind their backs.
While relationships require effort, for sure, there’s a difference between expending effort to build a satisfying connection versus endlessly pouring it down the drain, just to keep an unworkable situation from imploding.
I bet you can feel the difference, can’t you?
Even when my husband and I are having a challenging conversation, there’s a sense of growth and change, like we’re shifting energy around to figure out a different configuration that might work better.
It feels collaborative and, ultimately, satisfying, because we emerge from the exchange closer and with a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other.
In contrast, energy-drain dynamics feel more panicked, like I have to hurry up and throw energy at the leak in the dam before the entire town floods.
Rather than turning something over in my mind in a productive, curious way, I’m spinning my wheels, racing to find something–anything–to make the discomfort go away.
The antidote is getting clear on what I need and, when necessary, directly communicating that need.
And here’s what I’ve been finding, the more I do this.
Those situations that, before, I’d spend massive amounts of time and energy trying to figure out? They figure out themselves.
Over the course of the last year-ish, a family member–we’ll call them Bryce–and I have been negotiating new terms of engagement.
Previously, I was terrified of being abandoned, so I forced myself to be available whenever Bryce wanted to connect. The thing is, Bryce is an exuberant extrovert and I’m a book-loving introvert; our needs are often night and day.
The more I honored my energy levels and let Bryce know when I needed alone time, the more strained things became.
To the best of my ability, I continued to take things one interaction at a time, resisting the urge to fast forward on the heels of anxious thoughts, like, “If I tell Bryce I need alone time tonight, will they ditch me for good??”
Who could say? I didn’t have that information, because it hadn’t happened yet. All I knew was, in the present, I needed some alone time, so it was my job to clearly and kindly communicate that.
The more I created space for me to be me, the more Bryce pushed back or disappeared for months at a time.
But instead of trying to figure out how I could respond to “make” them change or when they were going to contact me again (if ever), I kept gently retraining my focus on 1) what do I need right now and 2) how can I communicate that clearly and kindly.
Was it always easy?
But holy cow is it ever helping me get clear on how I can relate to others as myself, which is infinitely more satisfying than contorting myself into an ill-fitting role, and then wondering why I feel as if I don’t belong.
It’s also building my tolerance for uncertainty and change, which is not only affecting my relationships, but all areas of my life, including my creative process.
For instance, I’ve noticed a direct connection between the ability to sit with uncertainty around whether or not Bryce and I will repair our relationship…
…and the limbo of being midway through a writing project, not knowing exactly where it’s heading, if it’s going to be what I’d hoped, if anyone else will like it, etc etc etc.
In the past, this was a dark alley where I’d often throw in the towel to eradicate uncertainty…
…leaving numerous projects half-formed, never to see the light of day.
But gently refocusing on 1) what do I need right now and 2) how can I communicate that (perhaps to myself) clearly and kindly, orients me toward solutions that are actually within my domain of influence, instead of spinning out over things I can’t control.
With a writing project, perhaps this check-in alerts me to the fact that I need to get up and stretch, and then I can get back to work with renewed focus.
Or maybe I’m getting hung up on a particular detail, like what to name a chapter or how to describe a particular concept. Rather than getting lost in quicksand, I can create a placeholder and move on, preserving my flow and returning to that sticky bit another day with a fresh perspective.
Slowing down, getting curious, and taking a moment to get clear on what you need helps you align, moment by moment, with your Wise Self…
…the Self that exists beyond family patterning, beyond trauma, beyond people pleasing and anxiety.
The Self who wholeheartedly embraces change, guiding you toward a fuller expression of your unique gifts, one choice at a time.
If you’re pouring time and energy into something that leaves you feeling anxious, scattered, or resentful, try gently refocusing on what you need.
Can you take really good care of yourself as you remove the life-support system from dynamics that can’t survive unless you sacrifice massive amounts of yourself?
How kind can you be toward yourself as those situations, of their own accord, begin to shift and change?
You’re not alone.
Change and uncertainty invite all of us to feel uncomfortable, to notice those spots of friction where our life is too small, like a too-tight shoe, but the reward is an endless unfolding of wisdom, resilience, and inner power.
One step at a time, you’ve got this.