Some of you are familiar with Martha Beck’s Cycle of Change, in which she describes the life cycle as a four-step process that’s repeated over and over again. Square One involves the dissolution of something – usually an identity such as “employee of X company,” or “single person,” or “child with two living parents,” or “childless person,” or “resident of this town,” for example – and the grieving and adjustments that go along with it.
We spend time in Square One fairly often in our lives because change is inevitable. The motto/mantra of Square One is “I don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s okay.” It’s the “and that’s okay” part that’s sometimes hard to remember.
These days, I find myself in Square One in a lot of areas of my life: I’ve put my home up for sale, two revenue streams have faded and I’m not interested in reviving them, and my mom’s due to have a knee replacement soon and will rely on me for temporary live-in help.
I don’t know when my place will sell, I’m not sure when mom’s postponed surgery will be rescheduled so who knows when I’ll need to move in, I can’t see clearly yet how I want to shift my business model, I don’t know where I’ll be living next since the house I want to buy may not be available by the time I have the revenue from my current home, I don’t know where I’ll be living so there’s no point buying plane tickets for September’s Camino retreat yet…oh, the things I don’t know and can’t control! And that’s okay. Really, it is.
Because I’ve learned over time that when I fight the meltdown, I just stay “melted” a lot longer. It’s the old “what we resist, persists” thing. If you’re in the midst of Square One, use these coping strategies:
- Stop planning. Get quiet instead.
- Cry, get angry…feel whatever feelings come up and don’t fight them.
- Rest. Do only what’s truly enough and no more.
- Accept that this will likely be an “unproductive” time in the eyes of others, but that you’re (un)doing exactly what needs (un)doing.
- Throw things away. Start with the notion that you’re supposed to be in control. Then, figure out what else you can let go of.
Then, figure out what’s perfect about this. Yes, I said it’s perfect. You will, too, if you really look at your situation. See it for the gift that it is, and things will start to shift.
I get to move into a home that better suits my needs, spend time caring for the most important person in my life, experience the wave of creativity that always comes when I let myself dissolve, and no matter what airport I fly from, I’ll be in Spain in September.
If you’re in Square One, lean into it. It, too, will pass.