I’m watching three flies in my office bang their bodies against the window, trying to get outside. Buzzing, buzzing, then they stop. And of course that’s when I look to see where they are and whether or not they got out. It’s maddening. The window at the other end of my office is wide open.
I leave the bottom of a floor-to-ceiling window open because my kitty, Thia (aka Thelonia Monk), likes to jump in and out. Yes, she’s totally spoiled, but she’s had three of her nine lives taken by a coyote so I let her do whatever she wants. Plus she’s adorable isn’t she? …and my yard is now completely fenced!
The window is open. Thia comes in and out, the flies only come in. Each fly finds the little window within the wide expanse of the great outdoors, and flies through into entrapment. They somehow want to get in, but once within the safe confines of the house, they cannot leave.
As a coach, I want the fly to be free, to find freedom and be happy. I want this for everyone but the flies won’t have it. I push and prod them toward the door, hold it open, shoo them over with newspaper, but no-go! I can’t tell them the way.
Like us, they are stuck in their way of processing and continue to bang their heads against the wall. We are all a lot like this; I am a lot like this.
Take my client Anne, who for years stuck to “her story” even though it made her depressed and tired. She felt she had to stay the course, holding everything together through hard work and no play, working crazy hours, missing her children, and barely making ends meet. She felt intensely trapped, her house chores never happened and clutter turned to chaos. But she was dead set on the consistency of her actions. She couldn’t chance stepping off the tracks. Too dangerous.
Her repeated troubling thoughts were also maddening, but she stuck to them no matter what.
“I’m too exhausted to start something new, no time.”
“Everyone depends on me. I must keep up my hours at work.”
“If I step off this track, things will fall apart.”
“I know how to do this, I don’t know how to do anything else.”…and on, and on.
She needed to break through these thoughts, but like the fly, she kept banging against a wall. Every time she felt an opening and began to think about a way out; she was overcome with anxiety and chose to stay in her comfort zone – which didn’t offer her much comfort.
Then she got the flu and was marched back home by her colleagues.
Oprah says the universe will tap you on the shoulder, clear it’s throat, and you’ll ignore it; then it will trip you, and you’ll ignore again; then it will hit you on the head with a brick, and you can’t ignore it any longer. I call it “the universe upping the ante” on you.
And as Anne lay in bed she felt her body resting, the breeze coming through the window and found herself playing with those thoughts. Was it really true she had no time for happiness? Like the flies, she could feel and smell a bit of freedom, but it felt out of reach until Anne began journaling in her boredom. She began to focus on breaking through and writing down everything she wanted different. She immediately felt some stress relief. So she continued.
Unfortunately flies don’t know how to release the stress, they leave their freedom to chance.
But Anne kept writing, reminding herself daily that she wanted something different. She made small changes until one day she found herself sitting at a clear dining room table, having dinner with her family. It didn’t happen by chance. Anne tweaked her time until more and more often she found herself right where she wanted to be – enjoying all the parts of a whole new world.