Recently, I was counselling a mother of two whose 16 year old son is using substances and currently not living at home. She talked about her own personal experience with trauma and abuse and how she went through her own substance use in her late adolescence.
She looked at me and said, “I have learned that in life, nothing is permanent… everything is “Dealable.”
I was fascinated by her story and the idea that everything is “Dealable.” She explained that in order to make progress, and change herself for her sons, she had to learn that you can make anything in your life work for you.
My client reminded me that if we constantly get after ourselves to change the things we don’t like, we will tend to see more and more of what we don’t like about ourselves. Being hard on yourself is not the path to a better life.
An interesting thing happens when we ease up on the gas. We can focus more on the drive… not just on hurrying up so we can be somewhere else. Sometimes the best step is to step back… and breathe a little. Take a little time.
If we realize that we want to pay more attention to improving one area of our lives, this acronym might help.
Everything in your life is DEAL-Able
Here is the short version of the acronym:
D – Dig in, get grounded, look around and take a breath
E – Experience it
A – Ask yourself what is working? And what’s not working?
L – Let go. And live: (Let go of what is holding you back… a little at a time) and Live (hold onto what works).
Able – Pick one ability that will help you to “DEAL” a little better with things and work on it
D – Dig in
Digging reminds me to get my feed really grounded. Like when you go to the beach and you try to stand on the sand. Your feet seem to sink a little with each step, until you stop and dig your feet deeper into the sand.
Digging in is not about getting stuck. It’s about giving yourself permission to take a pause, take a breath and look around. We can get so caught up with trying to cope, trying to make things work that we don’t notice how sore we feel. How tired we are. How we are sick of eating or not exercising or not being mindful.
Being thankful is a better way to live than always being annoyed. At least that’s what I’ve learned after more than half a decade on the planet.
E – Experience it
Open yourself, sense your life. Give a little space for your senses… at work, at home, on your commute, when you have a precious few minutes of unscheduled time.
What do you smell? What colors catch your attention? What sounds do you hear? How does your skin feel, your body?
Being open to our experience is one of the greatest experiments we can ever try. Your work (or your relationships…) may be annoying or stressful, or you may love it. Notice how you feel in your senses and what information your emotions are giving you.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
A – Ask yourself: “What is working right now?”
Another question you can ask is “What do I want to keep doing?” Take stock of what you are doing that you like, how you are being the kind of friend, spouse, partner, parent, boss, professional, artist, teacher that you want to be.
Then ask yourself “What’s not working?” What values do you have that you want to tap into a little more? What kind of human being do you want to be?
What do you want to do less of? What do you want to do a little more of?
My client said that she never tries to change herself. She ‘supplements’ what she needs, she adds a little knowledge and works it into her life a bit at a time.
It’s true that you cannot ‘undo‘ an unhelpful behavior. But you can supplement, add a little knowledge or new skill or try a different way of responding to a difficult memory, thought, emotion or situation.
L – Let go. And live.
I wish I had an easy way to do this one. I have a hard time letting go. It took me 20 years to let go of my “Dad stuff.” For too long, I tried to just let go of it but nothing worked. I think that what was happening was that I was too focused on not thinking/feeling/reliving my stuff… rather than investing some energy in just living the life that I have.
All that we can let go of is this moment.
You will not be able to “let go” just by sitting and talking about it. Today, here… you can only let go of what you can let go of. Maybe all that you can do is choose one small part/memory/emotion and open it up just a little. Then you may cry or scream or vent. Give yourself some slack and let it out, a little.
And then Live. Letting go allows you just a little more room – to live your life, to experience your life and enjoy yourself a little more.
Able – What Ability will add something important?
Abilities can be anything that can help you “DEAL” with your life…
- Take up a gratitude journal
- Write down your important tasks in a notebook so you can keep track of them
- Tackle one pile at a time. Maybe one piece of paper at a time. If 30 minutes is too much, then try 15. Or 5. Make it do-able.
- Take on some true, real self-care. Some self-care is an excuse to avoid or engage in behaviors that hurt your intentions to build a better life.
“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.” Brianna West
- Go outside, even for a few minutes… instead of just hibernating, again
- Open up and stretch your shoulders, neck, back, hips…
- Ask yourself what is that one thing you are avoiding. Then ask if you are ready to take on just one small part of it.
Today, your life can be more DEAL-Able. I’m curious, do you have any acronyms, quotes or bits of wisdom that keep you on track with who you want to be? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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