Jonathan* was an executive in a fast paced business, he had two pre-teen children, a wife struggling with depression, and elderly parents depending on him.
Despite the heavy load of daily expectations, he felt he should also be accomplished in sports, keep abreast of world news and politics, and be a great cook.
He prided himself in being better than the rest, the one who would always come out on top.
He didn’t notice the large amounts of caffeine he was consuming to keep himself going, the alcohol and medication he needed to fall asleep at night, the increasing irritability and the frequent bouts of road rage.
It wasn’t until his wife left him that his world started to crumble.
All of a sudden, he started to question why he was working so hard. He assumed that he’d be married for life—divorce was a major sign of failure for him.
Until that moment, he had not thought how harried his life was nor how much stress was affecting him.
No matter how difficult, these kinds of surprising twists can serve as jolts to shift us into healthier ways of living.
So it was for Jonathan, although not right away.
At first, he increased the hours he was working, went through a string of young girlfriends, and even bought himself a low-slung sports car. That too is normal.
Instead of doing the necessary work to achieve substantive changes, many try to escape their lives by engaging in powerful distractions.
Ultimately, after a few years of living an increasingly shallow life, Jonathan had enough. He wanted to stop being so driven. He wanted meaningful relationships, and to feel closer to his children.
He decided to try therapy.
Examining the Rules of His Life
The first steps for Jonathan were to start asking different kinds of questions.
What would be the unwelcome things that would happen if he stopped working so hard to be on top? What would be difficult or frightening about having more meaningful relationships with a partner and his children?
These were new and unfamiliar questions for him.
These questions lead to early learning about what meant to be a man, and how it is not okay to be genuine.
His answers were all about vulnerability— the fear of being seen as a failure, as weak. Risking getting hurt.
And, to his surprise, alongside this new vulnerability he also discovered the strength to tolerate these new emotions and the courage to reach for a richer life.
Discovering a New Freedom
Through this journey, Jonathan learned that he could count on himself. Not the counterfeit, stiff upper lip, soldier through kind of “counting on himself” that he was used to.
Instead he learned that he count on himself to respond to life with increasing and genuine confidence, calm, and curiosity. He could feel all manner of emotions without crumbling, and he learned that facing his fears honestly built compassion and a sense of connection to others.
Although some people didn’t like the way he was changing he noticed others were drawn to his increasing vitality.
Of course this didn’t mean that life was now smooth sailing for him. It did mean, however, that he had gained awareness and skills to face problems and challenges with authenticity and clarity.
He no longer needed to rely on over-achievement and status to feel self-worth.
If you can identify with parts of Jonathan’s story, please know that different choices are possible for you, too.
Take your time to read the other blogs on my website, watch the webinars, and complete the quizzes. When you are ready, I invite you to call me at 250 515 2123 or use the pop-up box to schedule a free 15 minute consultation. I look forward to hearing from you!
* a composite of several clients.