Stepping Away from the Conflict

Here's an email from one of my blog readers:

"I am unable to deal with my childhood doll collection (around 30 dolls). It's like what one of your readers said about her similar situation, “I infused them with so much life.” I spent much more time with them than I did with playmates after school and created stories for them and even their imaginary descendants. Even now that I’m nearing … ahem … fifty, I remember all their names even though I seldom give them a thought. I have a young daughter and wonder whether she might want them when she is older (I got a great deal of pleasure from my mother ‘lending’ me some of her childhood dolls when I was a child.) The problem is that I know that if I give them to her I couldn’t stand for her to rename them, cut their hair or damage them. If I sell them or give them to charity I know that they’ll be separated (I played with them as the 'mother' and they were my daughters, and though it sounds vaguely deranged, breaking up the family makes me feel sad) and possibly trashed by some child. At the moment they are in the too hard basket."

Maybe the dolls will sit in the too hard basket for a little while as you think about what to do. It's hard for you because the strong memories of your relationship with the dolls in the past is dominating the present moment. Even though they are not an active part of your life now, you feel like you will lose something by letting them go. This makes you feel emotionally overwhelmed and so there isn't the clarity for an answer.

Sometimes giving it a rest allows the answer to come to us. It can come in the next moment, or maybe next friday. When I'm feeling overwhelmed and unclear, I lay off. The solution comes sometime after that.

When we are feeling overwhelmed, it's like we are having an emotional spasm and it's painful. It's inside of us, it's loud, it clouds us over so we are not present, it dominates our thoughts, it pulls in other similar emotional pains, and it uses up a lot of our energy. Because it's so uncomfortable, we want to do something about it now, but it's hard to think clearly enough to know what to do. It would be like trying to think clearly in a ringing bell tower. There's also a lot of fear involved and it usually involves some kind of a loss. This shows up in the intensity of our need to defend what we want to keep.

From an outsider's perspective the emotional overwhelm doesn't make sense. But when you're in the midst of it, it has a hold over you and you believe it. That's why I encourage people to allow the emotional storm to settle down. Sometimes I'll have my clients focus on their breath, or get a glass of water. It's basically stepping away from the inner conflict over this thing or things. It allows them to recalibrate and get a different perspective. Sometimes a new answer comes.

It's worth waiting for the resolution because otherwise the conflict over the things persists and it interferes with our present life. There's no doubt that some things were a big part of our life in the past, but no thing is worth the loss of our peace of mind right now.