In my work as a clinician, a leadership consultant, and a fellow sojourner, I have found this to be true: In both our personal and professional lives, it is often the exact same issues that can hold us back, or even derail us.
Find a control freak at home, and chances are that their their co-workers have the same complaints that the spouse has. Or if someone is an enabler in their love life, they are also a boss who doesn't confront poor performance. In short, we usually don't have personal issues vs. work issues...what we really have are "me issues." And they show up wherever we are.
Which brings me to our topic: Necessary Endings.
In both our personal and professional lives, there are times when reality dictates that we must stand up and "end" something. Either its time has passed, its season is over, or worse, continuing it would be destructive in some way.
Such a situation requires us to:
But too many times, with clear evidence staring us in the face, we find it difficult to pull the trigger. Why is that?
The reasons are varied, but understandable, especially in light of developmental psychology, our understanding of trauma, and cognitive mapping. Some people's developmental path has not equipped them to stand up and let go of something. For example, if they did not develop what psychologists refer to as secure attachment or emotional object constancy, the separation and loss that ending a relationship triggers for them is too much, so they avoid it. In addition, in their development they may not have been taught the skills to confront situations like these.
Or, if they have had traumatic losses in life, another ending represents a replay of those, and they shy away or frantically try to mend whatever is wrong, way past reason. Or they have internal maps that tell them that ending something is "mean" or will cause someone harm. In any case, fears dominate their functioning, and they find themselves unable to do a necessary ending.
See if you can relate to any of these fears or inabilities that can cause people to hang on or stay somewhere too long:
Probably all of us can relate to something on that list. But even so, here is the issue: Endings are necessary. They are an essential part of life. Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something's time has passed and be able to move into the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings. Gardeners prune a rose bush for three reasons:
Let's apply that to life:
So, we have a dilemma: Life and success require "necessary endings," but we are afraid to execute them. What to do?
In future blogs I will share more about this topic, from my new book, Necessary Endings, but for now, lets start with a few thoughts:
Endings are a part of life, and we are actually wired to execute them. But because of trauma, developmental failures, and other reasons, we shy away from the steps that could open up whole new worlds of development and growth. Take an inventory of the areas of your life that may need some pruning, and begin to take the steps you need to face the fears that are getting in your way.
If you do, you might find yourself getting unstuck and entering into a whole new season of life.