Do sad people have in
They have all built a shrine
To the past
And often go there
And do a strange wail and
What is the beginning of
It is to stop being
I am a big fan of the do-over. Perhaps it is my Virgoan sun sign nature that leaves me partial to perfectionism (yah, actually) AND it has been my life experience, especially these days and in my late 30’s, that I rarely get it “right” the first time around.
- By “it” I mean difficult conversations with my peeps.
- By “right” I mean that I say what I want, how I want it in a good, clear, and truthful way–message given is message received.
- By my “peeps” I mean those people that are closest to me, that matter to me, whether physically near or far. (Though, it can be noted that those near are more frequent Practice partners in this endeavor.)
- And just so we are clear, by “difficult” I mean speaking the kind of Truth that will likely, in the short term, hurt some feelings, bruise some egos, burst some bubbles, or otherwise evoke some kind of unpleasant emotional response; and in the long term (Insha’Allah), this kind of Truth-telling will support my peeps and myself towards our own collective and individual Freedom, our own wholeness.
The Universe is kind, in her generosity. Meaning, we get the opportunity to see our behavioral patterns over and over (and over) again. I’ve found this to be especially true in our intimate relationships. When I think of all of my past intimate partners, we had the same fight over and over again. It just had different costume changes, sometimes even different scenery. The core issues at stake stayed pretty steady. (I keep this in mind, every time I enter a new romantic relationship. That first fight really is a telling one.)
It is tragically amusing to me that how we think we are and how we actually are, are often two very different things. Accepting this to be part and parcel of the human condition is integral in embracing the do-over as a viable practice.
Well, on the one hand, I suppose I can take the world view that it is very frustrating to be having the same freakin’ fight over and over (and over) again. And, the more unicorn, glass half-full view could be that this is actually most fortunate, because with every conflict that is seemingly the same (same fight, remember?) I have the opportunity to show up better, move a little to the left, jump over the puddle, avoid the ditch, etc. I can try out different ninja moves. I can try and stay still. I can scream my bloody head off. I can try listening. No, really listening (now, there’s a concept). The point is that with each conflict and eventual difficult conversation that ensues, there is an opportunity to do it better, to get closer to aligning who I say I am with who I actually show up as.
What I love about the do-over is that it is equal opportunity and available to both conflict avoidant types as well as those who relish in it (and the myriad nuances in between). I happen to be conflict avoidant, so just engaging in the conflict at all is already, for me, a step in the right direction.
There are a couple of basic tenets to cultivating a life that supports do-overs:
• First, you actually have to be in relationships. This doesn’t mean you have to go onto OkCupid and go on a dozen dates. Friendships are relationships. Work peeps are relationships. Family is a the O.G. relationship. You are even in a relationship with the regular barista that makes your chai–no water, extra foam, one extra pump, extra hot–latte every day. Practice makes perfect, so having lots of solid Practice partners is helpful.
• And, while we are on the subject, the calibre of your Practice partners matters. It’s helpful to have baseline agreements that the basis of your relationship is growth and comfort, sometimes comfort and growth. Trust is built over time and consistency in showing up for oneself and one another. When the shit hits the fan (and it always does), who’s got your back? Whose back have you got? If you must choose between depth or breadth here, I would err on the side of depth. Every. Time. Your Practice partner peeps are quite precious. Choose quality over quantity.
• And this almost goes without saying, that in order to cultivate do-over ability you can’t be such an asshole that no one will want to have a do-over with you. Asshole moments are okay. We all have them. Don’t string them together such that it seems they never end.
• Another thing, every time you make a mistake (this is also a given) take it in. Let it into your heart and head and belly, not to overwhelm you, but to honor the impact of it, to rest in the powerful ways in which you deeply affect others so that the lesson can be harvested from it; allow it to fortify you, enrich you, get you ready for the next time.
• Each time, put your best effort forward. Ironically, act as if there were no such things as do-overs. Strive towards impeccability. Every. Single. Time. This one is hard one for me. Sometimes I don’t feel like being impeccable or even moving towards it, not even towards an adjacent neighborhood, sometimes. Sometimes, I feel hateful and toddler-like. That’s when I get ahold of myself and remember that I am grown. There’s nothing wrong with feeling those feelings. Acting them out is childish, however, and it is the quintessential hallmark of a child. As an 8-year-old being childish is understandable. At 37, not so much.
• And finally, AFWYN. This stands for Ask For What You Need. If you need some space, ask for it. If you need some closeness, ask for it. If you need a hug, ask for it. If you need a week, ask for it. If you need forgiveness, ask for it. If you need a do-over, ask for it. Take care of yourself and your needs. By this, I mean look carefully inward towards what you really need to make authentic, sustainable connections more possible. This is so that you can ask for it. This is the hallmark of being grown.
A caveat here: It is not guaranteed that you will get what you want simply by asking for it. This is very important to realize. You might not get it from another person; you might have to give it to yourself. And, that’s okay. Nevertheless, in the world of cultivating do-overs, knowing what you need is a radical act of self-responsibility and care. It teaches us how to be in relationship with one another. It teaches us about boundaries, the ones that are permeable and the ones that are non-negotiable. It’s good to know which is which and just as important, when is which.
Do-overs are not a given. You can cultivate the conditions for which they are likely to come into fruition. There’s no guarantee (damn it). So, when you get one, treat it like one of those Wonka Bar Golden Tickets, the genuine article, not counterfeit. Cultivating a life where do-overs are viably possible means that you are well on your way towards living a meaningful life, a life that matters. And that, my dear friends, is worth even more than lifetime’s worth of chocolate, even if they are Wonka Bars.