Not fight. Not flight.
But stay. Allow life to float you back up.
It will if you embrace it.
This is the meaning of grace.
I was working with a client who has a very competitive past. He was raised by a father who was loving, but had very firm ideas about the direction he wanted his son to follow as far as school/career/life went.
Sound familiar to anyone out there? Yep…
My client became very competitive in school (obviously). He eventually made it to a complex math class that proved to be a particularly challenging subject for him. He was being passed up left and right by his classmates.
So what did he do? Well, he saw only two options…
Either he (1) put his hands up and admit defeat or (2) get his game face on, fight through it, and lay waste to any and everything that lay in his path.
He did the latter. And he crushed it. Nailed an A and surpassed his peers.
That’s when it happened. The thought form that created that little ‘success’ story became a model. It became a narrative that went something like this:
In order to succeed (and, of course, please my father), I must obsess over the obstacle and trudge through at all costs until I win.
That became his trend in life: I’m doing this damn thing and I’m doing it better than you.
And he did. He became a very accomplished, highly educated man. He was up there in the military, travelled the world, began working for big companies, etc.
However, he’d reached a place in life where he was… stuck. It’s weird how this happens… We do all the things our well-meaning authority figures told us to do when we were kids. We check the boxes. We ‘succeed’. And then we get to a place where we’re sitting on our couch marathoning Game of Thrones on our 65" TV all alone and it hits us…
This isn’t IT.
Not even close.
So this is where my client was. He wanted more meaning and depth. He wanted to find someone to share this life with. He wanted a life of his own aside from the achieving, striving, pushing, and fighting.
But he also didn’t want to lose all he’d worked for. He’d just gotten a new gig with new responsibilities and it looked like it would require that same killer mentality that had been causing him so much inner strife that he reached out to me.
So I asked him something I often ask myself…
What if there was a third way?
(Not: I have to win at all costs.)
And not flight.
(Not: Screw it, I’ll just move to Costa Rica and live on a beach.)
But a third way… An approach that his 4-year old self might have taken when he wanted to paint. One that embraced the dichotomy of being focused and playful at the same time. Of getting really frustrated, but then letting it go when it passed.
Third way thinking replaces fight and flight with grace. Grace is our natural state beneath all the personal thinking we adopt and pile on top of it throughout the years.
Living under grace allows us to excel at something while enjoying the process and embracing self-care at the same time.
Turns out, yes. There is a third way.
There always is.