Finding Your Power in Difficult Situations

The difficulty that landed with a clang in my belly on Monday has been transformed.
What began as some harbinger of destruction straight out of Edgar Allen Poe has morphed into a conversational journey that’s increased my peace and understanding every day since.
Staying grounded with the Three Beliefs of Powerful Presence kept me sane, and singing helped me laugh in spite of circumstances. Although those two strategies are powerful, they weren’t enough on their own.
The transformation began with my willingness to accept  that I had had a hand in the difficulty, even though I was unaware of exactly what I’d done. Starting with the premise that I was part of the problem allowed me to quickly determine what actions I needed to take.
My power in the situation was being willing to take action to clean things up; once I realized that, I knew exactly what to do. My strategy was one that Chuck and I have used for years to clear up misunderstandings or communication breakdowns between us. We’ve used it so often and gotten such great results from it that we rarely need it anymore.
We learned it on a TV show.
Twenty years ago, Mad About You was a show on NBC on Thursday nights. Paul and Jamie were a married couple who were unlike anyone else on TV; they were characters we would have loved to have had as friends. The great thing about the show was that it felt so REAL – before Reality TV. Like Jamie and Paul, Chuck and I were newlyweds; the situations that Paul and Jamie faced occasionally mirrored ours.
We hung out with them in our Austin apartment every Thursday night.
Jamie was a woman who was thoughtful and careful; Paul was a man who knew what he wanted and went after it. One of Jamie’s challenges with Paul was that he never said he was sorry – even when the situation required it.
In one episode,  Paul was clearly out of line with his integrity. He wanted something and went after it, even though Jamie asked him not to. The biggest laugh (as well as the biggest aha) of that episode was when Jamie found a way to get a recording of Paul that had him saying, “I couldn’t have been more wrong!” over and over and over again.
Chuck and I have used that line – over and over and over again – in the last twenty years. Both of us find it so easy to say these days because we know how truly powerful it is in a relationship.
Holding the perspective that “I couldn’t have been more wrong” helped me to learn things I could never have otherwise. It helped me to hear what the others in this situation had to say about their experiences; it helped all of us to see where the breakdowns occurred despite the positive intentions on everyone’s part. The wonderful thing about this perspective is that it takes the blame right out of the conversation and transforms it into an exploration of how things broke down so this doesn’t happen again.
The gift I discovered in this obstacle is the the power of a willingness to learn.

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