When Life Slams You to the Wall–How to React from Love Instead of Fear


Marjorie was tired and felt beaten down because of what had slammed into her this past week.

Her little sister, who she’d practically raised from an early age, had just gotten out of rehab a couple of weeks ago…

Was arrested for driving drunk–again–and this time she was facing a stiffer fine and probably jail time.

Once again, Marjorie was called on to bail her out and make it all go away.

If that wasn’t enough…

Marjorie’s live-in boyfriend had chosen last week to stay out all night with his friends and didn’t bother calling her.

She was not only hurt that he thought it would be okay to treat her that way…

But she also wanted and needed his support to deal with her sister’s disaster–and he wasn’t there.

And when he was there, they fought.

She knew she was emotionally overwhelmed, couldn’t think clearly and needed help in handling her reactions as well as dealing with the reactions of those she loved…

So she called us for coaching.

While talking with us, she had several insights into how she could react from love, clarity, and calmness in the middle of all of this chaos in her life.

Here are a few things she realized…

1. Our reactions come from thoughts we’re believing to be true
that other people (or you) SHOULD act a certain way–and we’re shocked, upset or disappointed when they (or we) don’t.

As Marjorie took an emotional step back, away from both of these painful situations…

She could see that she always expected that she had to be the one to “save” her sister from whatever disaster she got herself in…

And that “this” time her sister would change.

She also expected her boyfriend to be a calm, loving, supportive presence when she fell apart emotionally…

And he never was.

Marjorie’s reaction each time she was disappointed by the two people she loved sent her down a rabbit hole she felt like she couldn’t climb out of.

When she stepped back, she could see she had a lot of expectations and “shoulds” about how each of them, as well as herself, should be and live their lives.

She saw how much pressure those expectations put on her as well as them.

2. Recognize what’s underneath your reactions and when it’s not yours to fix

Our reactions come from old thought patterns and responses to circumstances that often create the “shoulds” in our lives.

As we talked, Marjorie saw that guilt was underneath her bailing her sister out of her troubles, even when she knew it wasn’t ultimately in her sister’s highest good to do it.

Because Marjorie had always tried so hard to steer her sister toward a better life and hadn’t succeeded…

She felt guilty that she’d somehow failed her sister.

Marjorie had a big aha when she realized that in trying to “fix” everything, she was actually keeping her sister dependent and a victim.

She saw that the guilt she felt was completely made up, not real and she didn’t need to pay attention to it.

Even though she was sad about what was happening…

She also felt some peace that it wasn’t her job to live her sister’s life for her.

The truth is that we cannot fix anyone’s life and it’s not our job.

When you see what’s underneath your reactions and compulsions to “fix,” it no longer has a hold over you.

3. Freedom is in the choice of the present moment

The powerful question to ask yourself is this…

“Am I showing up from love or fear?”

When Marjorie was in a calmer state of mind and asked herself that question…

She could see that with both her sister and her boyfriend…

She was showing up as fear, driven by thoughts of a fearful past and future.

She was afraid that her sister would end up dead because of alcohol and that her boyfriend would leave her.

She could see that her reactions were coming from these fears that may or may not happen in the future.

When she brought herself into the present moment, she realized that loving her sister might look like allowing her to face the consequences of her actions–with loving support.

She also could see that she had been trying to make her boyfriend into someone he may not want to be and that they needed to have a loving conversation on what they each wanted in a relationship.

With new clarity, Marjorie knew that she didn’t have to be hooked into the same reactions she’d been having.

She saw that there was freedom in making the choice to be in the present moment and remembering to love herself, as well as the others in her life.