I was sorting through some of my old posts today to help me outline a book I want to write and this one caught my attention. At first I didn't feel like it applied to me much right now, but now I have to rethink that. I didn't notice until just before I posted it that this originally ran on the anniversary of one of my parents' deaths (a parent I had just been talking to someone about moments ago.) So maybe that's a sign that I should reconsider how this applies to my life right now. So here it is, from 4/9/12...
Imagine you're at McDonald's and you order a large chocolate shake in the drive thru. Here's how the conversation might go:
DRIVE THRU: "Welcome to McDonald's. Would you like to try one of our extra value meals?"
YOU: "No, thank you. I'd like a large chocolate shake."
DRIVE THRU: "A large chocolate shake?"
YOU: "Yes, a large chocolate shake."
DRIVE THRU: "Would you like anything else today? How about some fries with that?"
YOU: "No thank you. Just the shake."
DRIVE THRU: "OK, that's one large chocolate shake. That will $3.89. Drive to the first window, please."
Sound pretty familiar? It's a fairly basic way businesses have of determining your needs and seeing your openness to accepting various up-sell contingencies. The same kind of thing happens when you decide to make a change or ask for something from the universe.
Say, for example, you're determined to say "no" more often to the people who are always asking you for your time or resources. So you decide you're not going to be suckered in any longer. Next thing you know, Marcie calls you. She is running late, as usual, has a whole dramatic story and needs you to drive her kids to school. You say you're really busy and can't possibly fit it in. Situation handled. You're a naysaying machine! You can do this!
But then a few days later, Karla calls you and ups the ante. Her husband has surprised her with an anniversary getaway weekend and it's going to be SOOOO romantic! He found a babysitter and everything. No worries there. But the thing is, it's Karla's turn to bake five dozen cupcakes for tomorrow's PTA meeting. And this whole thing came as a surprise to her. Of course she wants to get her hair and nails done before she leaves town. And she'd also like to surprise her husband with a little something something from Victoria's Secret. But there isn't time to do all that AND bake cupcakes. And you're the best baker she knows. The best in the whole PTA. And she'll owe you one. It's her ANNIVERSARY and her husband is FINALLY being romantic!!!!
But here's the thing, Karla already owes you at least two or three, if not more. And the reason is because every time you need Karla, you can't seem to get her on the phone. She has the uncanny ability of calling you back right when her help is no longer needed. On top of that, Karla's one of the reasons you realized you needed to say no in the first place. She's there for you when it's convenient for her to be, but she's not there for you in clutch situations.
It's Karla's anniversary. You don't want to disappoint her. And, now that she mentions it, you DO make the best cupcakes in the PTA. What do you do?
Think of this as the equivalent of your "do you want fries with that?" moment.
See, you've been chugging away like this for years. You TAUGHT people to take from you because you've always offered yourself up so readily in the past. And, while normal people would insist upon doing something nice for you for all the nice things you've done, you're not surrounded by normal people. You're surrounded by people who will take until you stop giving. Because that's the dynamic you've always accepted.
So, all of a sudden, the universe is supposed to believe you're serious about changing? You made a New Year's resolution to cut carbs just two weeks ago, and you've just ordered a chocolate shake from McDonald's! What's the universe supposed to think about you and your resolutions? No, the universe needs to be sure you're serious, so it sends tests. And once you pass those tests, it sends tougher ones to determine your boundaries around what you've said you want. How far are you willing to go on this "no" thing? You were strong when Marcie called, but what about Karla? What kind of contingencies are acceptable? The universe needs to know in order to help you get what you say you want.
We make a mistake when we ask for transformation and expect the people or situations that bother us to just disappear from our lives like "poof!" Yet, often that's why we give up. Because change is hard. The people who are used to taking from us become unhappy with us. And we assume that's a sign that the universe is against on this. Because if it really wanted to support us, it would be easy and everyone would applaud us. So we just give up.
But what we don't see is, in fact, the universe is in the process of giving us exactly what we need. It just wants to make sure we really want it because......you know........the whole chocolate shake thing...and all the other chocolate-shake-like things that came before it. And it also needs to know what the new parameters will be, because you've always been a sucker for a good sob story in the past. So it's refining the request. And yeah, you'll have to do some heavy lifting because the universe is a fan of teaching you how to fish, rather than just giving you fish.
So think about where this may apply to your life right now. Maybe it's not around saying "no". Maybe it's about speaking your mind to others. Maybe it's about trying to leave a bad relationship. Or maybe it's about saying "yes" to something, like working out, and obstacles like icy roads, long days at work and chocolate shakes that need some lovin' keep getting in your way. You're going to be tested. Your boundaries are going to be pushed. You're going to be offered "fries." And then you're going to be expected to do some work for what you want.
Are you going to say "I give up! I'm doomed to my miserable life!" the minute something gets in your way? Or are you going to hand that sackful of fries that mysteriously ended up in your car to a homeless person and say "bring it on, universe. Bring. It. On!"?