How many ways are you being pulled?

Yesterday I was thinking about what “big happy life” is really about. Simply put, the bigness of my life got in the way of the happiness of my life and this is my way of making a conscious effort to change that and track my progress.

As I was thinking about it, I remembered an exercise we did during a training course we attended as part of the adoption process. They asked for a volunteer to stand in the middle of the room and then tied a piece of string around her waist. Then the trainer asked for another volunteer. That person was to represent “birth mum”. The other end of the string was tied around her. Then one for “birth dad”, one for adoptive parents, one for school, one for friend, one for foster carers, there were strings for grandparents, extended family members and so on, until the person in the middle had over a dozen strings tied around her.

“PULL!”

The trainer shouted the instruction and we all pulled. The person in the middle doubled over and the trainer shouted “STOP!” She looked at us and said, “It’s your job to help your children manage very complicated lives.”

It was an incredibly powerful exercise, one I’ve thought about often since that day but not really in relation to my own life. Suddenly it dawned on me that I’m in the middle of my own pulley system, in just the same way as I’m part of my children’s, husband’s, colleagues’ parents’ and friends’ pulley systems. Not only that, but I’ve added a load of strings myself – so even I pull myself!

It occurred to me suddenly that to have a big happy life, we have to understand all the ways we’re being pulled, who’s doing the pulling and what that’s doing to us. We also have to think about how we’re pulling on others and what that’s doing to them.

I’m going to spend some time thinking about that today. Becoming conscious of the pulls and paying attention to what’s working and what’s not seems an excellent place to start if I want a “strings attached” life without tearing myself in half to have it.

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