This is a photo of my (former) oil sprayer. It’s in pieces because it’s broken, although I did spend a considerable amount of time — two days — trying to fix it. I don’t like throwing things away and I think that kitchen gadgets should last forever but in this case, while it was not working properly, I made it worse by trying to fix it. After trying numerous things, I came to the point where I had to acknowledge that it was beyond repair and throw it away. Sometimes our choices for release revolve around whether it’s a good use of our time and energy to try to fix something and to acknowledge when it’s broken beyond repair. Saying ‘no’ can be the objective of a lesson and the source of its greatest empowerment.
I use an oil sprayer I can fill instead of canned sprays because I’m allergic to the propellants they contain. The oil sprayer did work well at first, but then it got all gummy inside and wouldn’t spray. So I did what I always do when things don’t work, I took it apart. Then I soaked the pieces in white vinegar, and in hot, soapy water, dried them off, and tried unsuccessfully to put it back together. That’s when I decided that I was going to fix it and make it work. So I took it apart some more, breaking it beyond repair. Then I realized that I was spending more time trying to fix the sprayer than I needed to and it was time to throw it away.
Where is that point where something is broken beyond repair and we need to release it forever? It’s an easy decision with an oil sprayer, not so easy with something with much different, long lasting, life-changing, and more serious consequences. But sometimes the choice to release something forever is our only option, no matter how much we don’t want to make the decision to let something go.
And it isn’t always our choice to make, sometimes someone else decides that what they have with us is broken beyond repair and they throw us away, along with our dreams and hopes for a future with them. Then it feels like we are the victim of someone else’s choices. We’re not, but we have to make a choice about whether we will release them and that situation, and if not, how much we are willing to do to fix it. That choice also involves deciding when something cannot be fixed because it is broken beyond repair.
How do you know when things are broken beyond repair? It helps to look at it from the other side, how much time do you want to spend trying to fix it? And how much of your time and energy will be involved? Is it going to take everything you have to make it work and what happens then? If you have to change yourself to the point where you become someone you no longer know to make something work, is it worth it? And if there is someone else involved, what do they want?
The hardest question to ask, when there is someone else involved, is whether they want the same thing that we do. Do they want this to work and are they willing to invest an equivalent amount of time, energy, and effort to arrive at the same outcome that we want? We’re often afraid to ask that question because we are afraid to hear the answer. I see that in clients whose marriages or relationships end in a way that surprises them. While the end comes as a shock, they admit that the signs of impending breakage were there, they just didn’t want to see them. And while they want to move forward, the decision revolves around the energy and time investment it will take to create that outcome. To be blunt, sometimes it isn’t worth the effort.
When I rented a car in Europe a few years ago, the rental agent asked me if I knew how to use a stick shift. I said “Yes, of course, I learned to drive on a manual transmission”. She asked the question because someone had recently rented one of their cars and driven from Munich to Paris, about 520 miles, in first gear, because she didn’t know how to drive a manual transmission. If you have ever driven too fast in a low gear you know that the car engine makes a lot of noise and it won’t go very fast. Eventually the engine would overheat, smoke, seize up, and the car would stop running, which is what happened when she arrived in Paris.
But how did she drive for so long without wondering why the car wouldn’t go any faster and wouldn’t the angry honks and flashing lights of the autobahn and autoroute drivers let her know that something was wrong? Did she ignore the problem and keep pushing forward or hope that she could get to her destination in one piece and the problem would go away? Why didn’t she stop at a gas station and ask someone for help? And I also wondered what happened when she arrived in Paris with a car that was broken beyond repair? Did she rent another one and start again?
If we view everything in our lives from our point of fulfillment, joy, and peace, we can make adjustments along the way as we realize things are not flowing with that intention, rather than waiting until everything breaks and easy (or less difficult and demanding) choices can no longer be made.
It isn’t easy to admit that that we are no longer needed or necessary in a situation, that our goal isn’t going to be fulfilled as we had hoped or imagined, or that someone doesn’t love us any more, or they have found someone else, or, but those things happen. Instead of feeling rejected and dismissed, being more objective and looking at the situation from a point of what works best for us can soften the blow and give us a more grounded perspective. From this point we also make more powerful, self serving choices that are grounded in our joy, instead of reacting from our pain. Or worse, ignoring the situation, pretending it doesn’t exist, and hoping that it will all work out magically, miraculously, and with the least amount of damage to us, our joy, and our dreams.
Sometimes things break, whether it’s an oil sprayer, a job, a relationship, or any other life situation. The break can be easy or hard to And the question isn’t “What can I do to fix this and make it work again?”, it is sometimes “Is it worth my time, energy, and peace of mind to fix it?”
What do you gain by trying to fix something and what do you lose?
What happens after that?
When you can ask yourself those questions, you can decide whether you are ready to let something go that is already gone, and open yourself to receiving something that will replace it and that will be more aligned with your new life intentions and serve your desire for peace, love, joy, and fulfillment.
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