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  • matthewwoodyard74

The Foundation of Building a Symphony

"The only one left in the room"

One of the struggles with change is the many components and interconnectivity of our lives with others. Everyone has a predictability about them. We are creatures of habit even those who appear to have no distinct pattern in their lives. Most of the time you can have a pretty good educated guess on what someone’s next move may be based on their previous behaviors. As humans we make these calculations so quickly that it appears to simply flow in synk-with those around us.

In healthy relationships this looks like a team working together or an orchestra performing a symphony. Each person takes their turn contributing to the composition that enriches the others in the orchestra. In these cases when life happens (like it always does) the missed beat of one of the musicians is either of no consequence as the others fill in, or they stop the music, apologize for the error, and without anguish refocus and begin again. When this occurs a mutually beneficial connective harmony is born even if imperfect at times.

Many people however get stuck in the patterns and predictabilities of those around them. Some scurry around in a fluttery panic trying to control everything around them with their cohorts aimlessly moving through life haphazardly making more mistakes than had they simply been left to take care of their responsibilities independently. Some fill the air with their constant anger or dissatisfaction with life while their cohorts are left either walking on eggshells or making vain attempts to pacify them with no measure of relief. When this occurs they sacrifice the song in their heart to follow the beat set by those who are either louder or more forceful with their tune. In this, harmony can’t exist.

Though building a wall often sounds like a great option for blocking out the sounds or influences you don’t want in, it typically is not the soundest of advice. When people don’t have firm boundaries the common voice of those around them says, “cut them off,” or “kick them out of your life,” and in this day and age, “just block them.” Though this appears to be sound advice and I do recommend it at times, life and relationships are not typically this cut and dried. If you blocked or cut out anyone who ever hurt your feelings or didn’t agree with you, you’d end up being the only one left in the room. People are messy and make mistakes so building a wall around yourself will not fortify your defenses, but rather leave you isolated and alone. People who tend to do this frequently do so because of an initial lack of boundaries. They put themselves out there for all to see equally without checking individuals’ intentions before they share their deepest of secrets. They ping-pong back and forth between no boundaries and getting hurt to all wall and desolate isolation. This failed cycle is a desperate attempt to avoid pain. The pain that comes from utter loneliness and the pain of being taken advantage of or feeling like a fool when you reveal too much.

So how do you assemble an orchestra? How do you bring together those who would enrich your song and carry your tune when you make a mistake, or get on board and let you be accountable and restart the song despite the pain and embarrassment of doing so? Well, as mentioned before people are messy and no one is going to pass the “walk on water” test. That said, I always recommend looking inward first. Our first reaction is to look at all the outside sources of our pain and discontent (guilty as charged), but typically we can’t do anything about them without first dealing with ourselves. Surprisingly, this as a first step begins to not only promote the power of ownership, but helps to regain focus over what is or is not in our control. Besides, there’s nothing worse than hearing, “you know what your problem is?”

Remember the wall? Letting a few people in, the right people is an important part of the proper boundary building process. People who will allow you to take responsibility for your part while allowing you to feel safe and supported when you do is paramount. Trust is earned and followed up not with words, but by reputation. Trust too is part of that harmony. If you yourself are untrustworthy, then starting with keeping trust should be your first step. Become what you need from others.

One way to build self-trust is by journaling. By putting an honest account of yourself down on paper. Though this process can be quite unnerving, a writing assignment is often the best indicator of self-trust and the level of investment to change a person has. The realness of seeing ourselves in the permanence of writing is remarkably powerful. Very rarely do I read what others have written for assignments even if they want me to, for me this is another opportunity to have someone read and hear their own truth in their own voice. Today is the best day to begin writing your symphony. Today is the best day for letting those in who will carry your song even if you lose your place.

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