I was able to hear Dr. Henry Cloud speak last Saturday night and found his topic timely. He shared how often we can’t move forward unless we first bring an end to something else. Its the concept that we only have so much capacity in life and can’t accept something new if something old or unhealthy is in its place.
This truth fits numerous scenarios like an employee that needs to move on before the workplace becomes toxic, or a relationship that is going nowhere needing to be brought to an end, or letting go of a dream that is not going to materialize.
Cloud drew an analogy by stating, “Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize that something’s time has passed and be able to move to the next season. And, everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings. Gardeners prune a rose bush for three reasons: 1. The bush produces more buds than it can sustain, and some good ones have to go so the best ones can have the resources of the bush 2. There are some branches and buds that are sick and not going to get well 3. There are some that are already dead and are taking up space.”
Cloud made it clear that over time we tend to gather more activities, relationships and work than what we can handle. We therefore are in a position where we have to determine who or what activities we’ll continue to maintain and what or who we need to walk away from.
We first need to determine where we’ll put our energy. If there is someone who is always a hassle to deal with, then that is a person we should consider walking away from. Or, if there is a person that makes us feel healthy, confident and positive every time our paths cross, making sure we have more time with them is important.
In relationships there are two kinds of people: The ones who drain you and the ones that build you up. So why is it hard to walk away from those who drain us? Cloud suggests its because, of how we, “look at endings in general. Do you perceive them as natural? Do you have a worldview that everything has its season and life cycle, or do you think that if something comes to an end it means that “something must be wrong?”
“When you see that you need to let go of something, or a person, what happens inside? What fears emerge? How paralyzing are they? What can you do to address them?
“Have you really thought about the fact that if you don’t do the pruning in that area that is needed, then you won’t get what you ultimately want? For example, if you keep that employee then that department will never perform well? Or if you stay in that dating relationship you will not find the one that fulfills? Play the movie forward a year or two and see if you like the results of not making a decision.
“If you are holding on to hope, what is the basis for that? Is it rational and objective? Or is it just a defense against facing the issue? Endings are a part of life, and we are actually wired to be able to execute them.”
Cloud also pointed out that when we are fearful about hurting someone’s feelings, we should consider if the outcome of not bringing things to an end is more hurtful. In fact, he sighted numerous examples where the person was actually thankful to learn of the issues at hand and bringing them to an end put the person into a good and right place for the next chapter of their life. They were win/win scenarios.
If you are as intrigued as I was about Cloud’s insights and the process for bringing things to a necessary ending, you can jump to Amazon.com and pick up a copy of Necessary Endings for yourself.