I’ve been on the William Glasser International teaching faculty since 1980. During that time numerous people who are taking the early phases of the certification training have commented along the lines of What’s the big deal? This is easy? And then, to their surprise it isn’t.
What I know is true is that life, in and of itself, is simple.
We have basic physical needs: food, sleep, preferably shelter, safety.
We have the need for connection, to be useful or important. We have the need to have choices and as Dr. Glasser taught, we have the need to have fun because that’s how we learn.
Most of us get up in the morning with an idea or even a clear picture of how we want our day to go. We have our schedule or agenda or to do list or calendar —however you organize your days. Then we take action. At the end of the day, our list is finished, our view of how our day would go is manifested. We have a sense of accomplishment.
What we also know is that simple is not always easy.
A fact is we don’t always have power to keep a monkey wrench from being thrown into the cogs of our daily schedule. And the list of those monkey wrenches is long because for most of us, those simple days requires cooperation from someone or something beyond our control.
The washing machine works. The car has enough gas for whatever errands or business we need to do.
The weather cooperates with any outdoor tasks
Money is in the bank
The contractor, cleaner, auto mechanic (you get the idea) is on time and does a quality job
Your partner, children, employees, boss all do their part so that what you are doing is easily and simply completed.
And that’s when things run amok, when simple isn’t easy. Our simple day becomes harder because it depends on other people to show up and things like the car or appliances to run.
The reality is, unless what we need is totally controlled by us, there is no guarantee of an easy day. We are at the mercy of outside forces.
The Serenity Prayer talks about “accepting the things I cannot change” and since one of those “things” is someone else, we have to find our own simple. And that isn’t always easy.
A recent “aha” for me: Those things over which I have no control and that I have little or no real interest in much less passion about are easy for me to accept and even ignore.
What about those things I do care about? Those things I have a passion for and interest in? That’s much more challenging.
It can be done. I’ve proved that to myself more than once in the last couple of days!
One part is simple. I know I have no control over other people much less the weather, electricity, or machinery. There are times I can simply say to myself “reschedule” or “how important is this in the relative scheme of things” and I’m able to let it go.
However the more I have invested in the task’s outcome, the more difficult that is. I can think a task through until I feel I’ve almost accomplished it. I’m excellent at spending the first X number of hours when I go to bed reliving a particularly challenging part of the day or prepping for what I think will be difficult the next day. Or to be perfectly honest, I can be looking ahead a few weeks or months.
I’m better than I was several decades ago when that thinking, planning, plotting process was out to several years!
What I’ve learned over the years is that I first need to take care of myself before I am of any use to anyone else. I will admit I’m not perfect on living up to that “knowing”.
Here are a couple of tips I’ll pass on to you
+ Much of what makes our life “hard” or “stressful” is of our own making
+ Worry is not our friend. Fear is but worry isn’t.
+ Making sure to take care of ourselves is vital, especially if other people rely on us for anything. The airplane adage of making sure you put on your oxygen mask before helping someone else has applications beyond flying.
+ Do trust your inner voice
+ Do trust your body. Sometimes the only way for it to tell us to slow down and take better care of ourselves is to knock us down. When that happens, take your time getting up or the next knock down will be more serious.
+ Pay attention to your self-talk. Are you encouraging, supporting, trusting, respecting yourself or are you criticizing, blaming and complaining. Everyone does better, ourselves included, when we care about and for ourselves.
+ Acknowledge the loss if that is what’s hard. Grief is normal and useful in that it gives us time to stop. If possible, remember the blessings. My longtime friend (July 1980) has dementia and as I’m writing this, I learned she no longer knows who I am. We had such fun and many adventures attending various Glasser conferences around the world and over the decades. And her loss of herself as the person she was has been a slow process. Remembering those adventures is bittersweet and while the tears do well, the ache in my heart eases.
Take the time to find what works for you. Look at the whole of what you cannot control to see if there is a piece, perhaps almost minuscule, that you can. And when you do find it, claim it and use it.
While our road in life will still have bumps and maybe even crevices, by claiming all that we really can control, we’ll find it easier to navigate.
Simple will not become Easy and it will become Easier.
And if you want a simple process (and yes, it can be easy if you remember to claim every part), I’ve also got a free handout on “Plan making” available on my website under “Resources” www.JudithAshley.net.
Judith attended her first Basic Training in August 1978. She was certified in Reality Therapy in August 1979 and became an Intensive Week Trainer and Practicum Supervisor in 1981. In 1991, Judith was approved as Senior Faculty by Dr. William Glasser. She has taught all phases of the Certification Program and presented workshops at Conferences in the United States and Internationally. Currently Judith is the Northwest Region’s representative on the GIFCT Board as well as president of the NW Region.