Between A Rock & A Hard Place

Too many times we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place not knowing what to do or how we got here, again.

In my experience, being in this place isn’t fun and requires action or decision, apologies or repair.

I know for myself I was an all or nothing type of person, everything was black or white, resulting in me being in this place quite often.

Not knowing how to “figure it all out” just added to the frustration and confusion.  Not knowing what to do often led me down roads to works, actions, decisions and behaviours made from this unhealthy and biased place,  not from who I was, my intentions, purposes, goals or directions in life.

I can admit that making decisions from this place always left me in a position of regret and repair.  What I didn’t understand was how it all happened.

There are many explanations, but one I find quite common and this was my experience, involves a disorganized attachment to my parents as a child. Growing up we have these things called attachments with our primary caregivers – they can be healthy or unhealthy, in tact, disorganized or broken. (my words for illustration).

Take for example if your parents are fighting – each ask you to do something that is the opposite of the other i.e.: get your own milk out of the fridge vs. don’t go into the fridge without asking first.  What do you do? You’re stuck. You love both of your parents and want to do the “right” thing – but for you, there is no right choice that isn’t going to cause you issue.   There is no way for you to keep everybody happy and no way for you to make a decision.

Most likely your flight, fight, freeze or align survival mechanism kicks in and you suss out which is the least, bad, option and take action, then perhaps even ping pong back and forth based on their reactions,  but for you inside, something has changed.  This situation has now become part of your nervous system and is loaded emotionally with a trigger response.

Fast forward to later years and you are stuck in a situation between your boss and a co-worker. You know  your co-worker is right in this situation, yet your boss has the power to fire you and you need your job.  So triggered and now in survival mode, you are feeling out of control, in this no win situation –  you do your best to keep them both happy, which is impossible, it exhausts and depletes you. In that tired state life  and work become more challenging because you are compromising yourself to keep “control” of this situation.  This again will trigger the fight, flight, freeze or align decision and then it repeats until you either leave your job, get fired, pick a side etc.,

So, what can you do about this, so you don’t get “stuck” in this situation, hating yourself for decisions you have made and confused about how it all happens?  My recommendation is to find some grey area.

As a child, you were in a no win situation. As an adult, you have different choices.  The first step is recognizing when you are in a situation that feels like its a “no win”.  Most likely your body is telling you through stress responses, feeling ill, out of control, nervous, anxious etc.,  Once you have your attention and are feeling the emotion, place your feet on the floor, your hand on  your heart – anything that grounds you to this moment in time, the present.  Take a moment to remind yourself you are feeling things from the past and just allow yourself to feel it and let it pass through you. If you fight it, it has power and builds, but if you just acknowledge and let it pass through, it will be on its merry way and you can make a new choice from this place of calm. (The actual feeling of it lasts seconds before it dissipates, where holding onto it can store it for years, wasting a lot of time and energy. )

Once the emotion has passed, the situation might look entirely different. Once the feeling of panic has passed, you may realize that you don’t actually have do to anything at all and it was the emotion that was making  you feel out of control, like you had to act, pick a side etc.,   If there is still a decision to be made, you are now calm, centred, focused and present, so will be much better resourced to think and act clearly and make a choice that is in alignment with yourself.

The great part about this is once you “get it” you will never unlearn this and it remains part of your toolbox forever. Taking a few minutes to ground, feel and release is always easier than apologies, regrets and hurting yourself and others.




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