What Are You Looking For On Your Journey?
A journey is to travel from one place to the next. I've been allowed to have a journey in my life. My kids are allowed to have one too. We all are. A journey lasts a lifetime.
What we look for on our journey matters though. We are going to encounter problems. We are going to go through really tough parts in our journey. Whether we are problem-focused or solution-focused will matter greatly!
Join in today as we talk about what it means to be solution focused, and what to watch for as we journey through problems towards our goals.
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My ex-husband used to call me when he had a bad dream. For those who haven’t heard previous episodes and maybe don’t know me personally, I’ll let you know that my ex-husband and I were close friends after we divorced. Our marriage ended but our relationship didn’t. We just changed it into what worked for us. We had a lot of boundaries and therefore our partners could be comfortable with it too, but we remained in each other’s lives, until he passed away in 2020.
I was just thinking of this because, our son called me last night. In the middle of the night. Because… he had a bad dream. And I smiled as I laid on the couch and he explained the dream to me and how it shook him and why he needed to call and talk it out until he was ready to go back to sleep.
I miss my ex-husband, Jeremy, and then our son, Shale calls and I say “there he is. He’s not too far away”. I think I won’t ever hear certain phrases and then our other son, Jesse calls, and challenges me on what or how I’m thinking and again I say, “there he is. Still not too far away”.
The first time our oldest did something I just didn’t see coming – I called his dad and cried about being a bad mom and how I wasn’t doing a good job obviously. He said “T, T, you’re a good mom, the kids are just jerks”. We laughed which helped, and then he asked me, “did you really think they would have the parents they do, and never get in trouble?”
Well, thinking about it that way, no, I guess not. Jeremy had been a wild one, and I was known to carry the jerk gene as well, so ya, the boys were going to have some experiences that we needed to buckle up for. That was a simple and quick conversation, that put a lot of perspective into my parenting days to come.
It was not an excuse to get out of teaching and guiding and even disciplining, but it was a reminder that I have been allowed to have a journey… my kids deserve to be allowed to have one too. We all do.
Do you know how simple the meaning of the word journey is? It means to travel from one place to another.
Not quite “profound” in its definition. But I like it. I like the simplicity and I very much appreciate the straightforwardness. It’s just travelling, from one place to another.
It doesn’t imply that there needs to be a specific destination reached in order to call it a successful journey. It doesn’t even give a direction. It just says to travel from one place to another.
My kids have been anything but straightforward to raise, but they are on a journey, and they deserve to have it.
And I’m not here today to talk about the journey specifically that my kids have been on. I’m not even sharing the details of mine today… I’m just here to simply say that if you feel like you are wandering somedays, lost even on other days, or at least certainly not like you’ve arrived where you want to be… relax – it called a journey. And it lasts as long as life does.
It’s natural too. We don’t just one day walk. We hold our own heads up, then sit on our own, and then crawl, and then stand, and then walk.
We don’t head off to school and come home reading. Although my daughter was very upset after her first day of school. She came home to tell me that they had gone to see the library today and she still can’t read.
Well, we have a journey there as well. We don’t look at book and suddenly know how to read. As unfortunate as that was to my daughter.
We move from grade one to grade two. We move from elementary school to high school. We go from a paper route to our next after school job. We journey through. We travel.
Doesn’t it feel sometimes like we aren’t really moving? We say things like nothing ever changes. Nothing feels like it’s getting better. I’m so sick of this.
Guess what… that’s movement. There was a time when it wasn’t a repetitive experience. And then it was. And then it was your normal. Nothing to question. It was just normal life. And then it started getting annoying, or frustrating and that’s where you are now. Sick of this.
Took movement to get from this being your norm to you being sick of it.
You’re still moving. You’re still travelling from one place to another.
I think that often, when we feel stuck or like we have had no movement, we just haven’t noticed the little steps. We were watching out for bigger steps. Leaps. Bounds.
But life has fewer leaps and bounds than it does steps. And steps matter. Steps count. Steps are really important.
Steps are so important that I refuse to wear my Fitbit now because it keeps telling me to move when I’m not ready to. And no matter how many steps I get, I think it’s not enough. And my daughter tries to make it a competition and I don’t want to lose. So, I just won’t play.
I can get too focused on the steps. And they matter. We said that. They are important. But it’s also important to look up and look off into the distance a bit for clarity of where it is that you were planning to travel to.
That’s your reminder that you are planning on getting somewhere, in this part of your journey. It’s still not somewhere that you will stay. You’ll learn and grow and take more steps from there… but getting there might be your next goal.
We need goals. But what if it feels like we have more problems than goals?
I talk to people every day that feel like they have problems that are in the way of their goals. Or blocking their goals so much that they can’t even see any.
It could be personal problems of a family issue or a career challenge or a life crisis. And all of those matter. They deserve to be heard.
Some problems deserve to be heard too, not because you are failing in them and we need to fix them, but so that we can normalize them and take the shame and guilt out of them and build in encouragement instead.
You know these problems… The ones we address every morning and every night…
And the morning sounds like - I’m going to be a nicer mom today. I’m not going to yell. I’m not going to be so sarcastic. I’m going to be nothing but calm and loving. And by evening it sounds like – What is wrong with me? I have got to be the worst mom on the planet. And what is wrong with my children? They are feral. Oh my, that’s my fault, isn’t it? It’s because I yell too much. I’ll do better tomorrow.
And – repeat. This is a problem we can work on, but also normalize at the same time.
Here’s the thing when we are working on problem though, we have to be mindful of where our focus is.
Is it on the problem? Or is it on finding a solution? Because this is a question, we talk about at staff meetings at our office, and it’s this…
What are you looking for? Because what you go looking for is what you will find.
Are you looking for the problems? Cause they are there. You’ll find them. We all have them. And I’m not saying stick your head in the sand and pretend they don’t exist. That’s not helpful. Be aware. Acknowledge them. But then make sure you’re looking for the solutions. Because if you go looking for them, you will find them.
So, the questions we ask are important. “What’s wrong?” is a problem focused question. It demands a problem be brought to the center of attention.
We prefer to ask, “What happened?” because that’s informative without having you identify with your problem. It happened. To you or around you. But it’s not YOU, being a problem. You don’t have to identify with the problem to address it. You can recognize it for what it is.
And it’s true, to tackle a problem we do need to talk about it. But we don’t have to focus on it. That is not only unhelpful, but it can be damaging. It needs to be said so that you can be heard, validated, and understood. That is crucial and everyone deserves that.
If we were able to look at a large population that had an array of problems, the difference between those who are most affected and those who are able to heal and move forward, is this…
Who is determined to focus on the problem? And who is determined to focus on a solution?
Even looking at my son who calls me in the night to talk about his bad dream, he’s not looking to focus on the negative thoughts or emotions that it left him with. He will share some details about the dream to make me aware of what he experienced, that’s informative, but his goal is put his thoughts and feelings back into a comfortable place so he can fall back asleep.
That’s the goal. If we picked apart for hours, the details and the terror that it left him in, no one is going back to sleep. But if we look for perspective that can help us wrap our heads around the fact that he is safe, and his fears are unfounded here (and I didn’t say invalidated or unjustified – because it made sense for him to be shook with those details of that dream), but the fears are unfounded now that he is awake and safe and has a goal of restoring comfort and finding sleep again.
The truth is we are all going to experience problems. Some need to be validated and encouraged as normal even though it’s hard, and some need patience as they are a natural part of the journey, and some need our awareness so we can then focus to find solutions.
How do you know which one requires the attention it takes to look for solutions? Well, you’ll say things like I feel like I’ve been here before or been here too long and I’m sick of it. I’m not as strong as I used to be. I’m afraid, I’m angry, I’m bitter… I’m not proud of who I am right now.
Then let’s identify what happened and look for solutions.
Often, we know what happened and we know what we experienced, and we know how we think and feel about that now. And we are able to say I don’t want to keep experiencing this or continue to think or feel this.
Excellent. But if I asked, “what do you want?” Do you know that answer? What do you want to think or feel or experience? Do you have an answer for those questions? Because it is important that you know those answers. Those become your goals. That’s what we are now working towards. That’s aa big part of the solution.
What I know is that no one is completely fabulous at everything, and no one is going to be a complete failure in everything they try either. So, we need to get focused on solutions until we find what works and then work it!
Life is all about having a plan and rocking the plan until the plan doesn’t work. And then we make a new plan. This is the journey. This is travelling from one place to another.
And again, a successful journey doesn’t mean there won’t be problems. It means we can identify what happened and process it in order to find solutions for continuing the journey forward.
This will mean we know what we are sick of, and what we no longer want… but also what we do want instead.
Even in the problems that are normal. Even in the ones we validate as something many of us will face. We can still look for solutions. We can still look for ways to communicate with our kids and have them listen to us without us reaching decibels that shake the neighbors. And it’s almost “open your windows” season. We may want to look for those solutions soon.
And let me address those of you right now who are saying “but you don’t know my problem”. You don’t know the agony of my marriage, my kid’s addiction, my diagnoses of cancer.
No, I don’t. But you do. And I trust that you have everything it takes to find a solution to the right questions. I trust that you will journey through this. You’re not more successful doing it alone either. Ultra-independence is not a healthy feature within us.
But I also know that there are a few things that are waiting to make shifting from problem-focused to solution-focused hard. So, let’s be aware of them so we can watch for them. Not look for them but watch and recognize if they show up.
First of all is this idea that OUR problem is unique, and hand crafted to destroy us. That gives a lot of power over to the situation at hand, and already makes it stronger than it really is. It’s not that it isn’t uniquely your experience, but we have to look at it as that. An experience. Not a monster already capable of eating us for lunch. Do not give away your power, to something that hasn’t earned it, and doesn’t deserve it. Let’s reserve your power for the solution.
It's an EGO problem that would have you believing that YOUR problem is the worst problem in the world and unlike anyone else’s. Again, it’s validated as hard for you, but seeing what other people have been through and endured and how can be a source of hope and learning strategies.
The second thing that will most likely want to play a role in your journey through and past a problem and into a solution is FEAR.
Fear will tell you right off the bat that there is no solution. And if you can see a possible solution, fear will tell you it won’t work. This problem is bigger than you, stronger, more powerful and this problem is permanent. This is how it ends. Or what my cousin, James, would say – “It’s been a good run”.
Fear says this ends in the worst possible way, and there is no coming out of it.
But fear is a liar.
The last obstacle I want to mention today, that could be a hurdle to watch for in your journey is BLAME.
And blame sounds like this… I shouldn’t have to figure this out. I shouldn’t have to be the one looking for a solution. The real solutions would be my kids listening the first time I speak. If they don’t want me to yell, they should do what I tell them. I’m not doing anything wrong, and this stupid problem still seems to be my problem when clearly, if my husband could learn some respect and help me more… my boss could see that I’m not the only one late but the only one she talks to about it… my kid could get their life together, so I don’t have to worry so much…
This is not my fault, so I’m really not sure why I need to fix it.
I’m not even going to argue about whether that’s true or not. Because some of it very well could be. But if there is anything going on that is now affecting your life and you’re sick of it… let’s not give that power to anyone else either to fix, OR leave us in.
Let’s just focus on any solution to bring relief.
If you are living as less of the person that you were meant to be, then we need to ask the questions, “What do you want? What do you want to think, feel, experience?” and build the solutions to get there.
And we are going to stick to the new plan until we see the changes you wanted to see.
It could get hard and frustrating. But so is the problem, isn’t it? If it’s going to be hard, let’s be at least working on the solution, journeying towards the goals.
Think about it. You’ve been in this spot before. There has been a time before where you had a goal that was very hard to reach. But you kept going.
I am happy to say that my 22-year-old is potty-trained. And there was a time when I didn’t know if I would ever reach that goal. The boy was not on board. The boy did not have the same goal. They say they will learn when they are ready. He did not care. At all. For any of it.
And that may sound like a silly example. But I’ve got tons of them. From knowing I would need to get through my mom’s funeral, to knowing I had to go in for a huge surgery alone. My goals in both of those situations were just to get through. And I did. Some of the hardest days of my life.
Some of the hardest days of your life may still be coming. But you’ve already survived some too.
What do you want for your future? Those are your goals. Any problems on the way, as you journey from this place towards your goals, we can get through them.
We’ll acknowledge them. Validate them. Make sure we are aware of them. But then we will focus on a solution. To get to our goals. And we will watch for EGO, fear, and blame to pop in with their cents. AND then we will tell them that we are worth way more than their two cents, and we’ll keep journeying.
After all, it’s our right. We all get to have a journey.
And until we meet back here again on our journey together, this is Tina saying good-by for now… and we’ll speak again soon.