How do you know when something is dead?

Posted by Sooz on Sunday, October 27, 2013 | 8 Comments

signsOne time my husband accused me of dragging a dead body behind me… and he was right. It was not a corpse of course, but a dead relationship that I just kept pulling along behind me. It was very heavy, as lifeless things tend to be, and eventually it started to stink. I had invested so much into this situation, I had prayed so hard, I had wanted it to work out so badly that I could not even acknowledge that it was dead. I think in the deepest parts of myself I believed that if I just tried hard enough, believed strongly enough – somehow I could make it live, but I couldn’t. This meant I had to admit defeat and I did not want to do that. The problem was that my fixation on this situation had blinded me to the truth and I was beginning to hurt other people by not being willing to let go. The “smell” was affecting everyone.

We come to these places in life sometimes where we have to acknowledge that something is dead. Maybe it’s a relationship, or a job, or a dream. Maybe it is just a little thing, an activity or interest that has outlived its usefulness and “life” in our story. Some people are really good at telling when a thing is no longer life-giving and good for them, others like me – suck at it. I think at the root of this problem there is likely a core issue that keeps us from seeing the truth. For me it was a lack of knowing my own worth and value. I was willing to tolerate and excuse bad conditions because I did not value the needs of my own heart enough. I could not admit that this situation was no longer healthy or good for me so I kept on trying to revive a dead thing and I could not see that it was useless.

Here’s the serious part about all this – if you stay with a dead thing for too long, it will kill you. Its decay will make you sick and eventually rob you of life. I look back on my own story and see so many situations where I stayed too long trying to help, trying to be a “good person”, trying to convince people that the path they were on was dangerous. In the meantime my own well-being was compromised leading to increased blindness. The point is – there is a time to draw a line, to walk away, to cut ties or to step back. The trick is knowing when to do that and the trouble is you must make that call – no one can do it for you.

So what are some signs or red flags that should begin to get our attention? At SaveGoodness we talk about the 4 building blocks for an authentic, well-functioning life: Beauty, Trueness, Love, and Life-Giving Things. In a situation or relationship that is “living” there is a give and take of these things. Let’s say, for instance, your job. You should be able to find and give some degree of:

-        Beauty to your work, like smiles on the faces of grateful customers.

-        You should have and give a sense of Trueness, honesty and respect for instance.

-        You should sense Love and purpose in your work at some level – so you love serving customers for example and feel their gratitude for what you do.

-        Finally, something should be Life-Giving and inspiring to you about your work and you should feel like the work you do gives those things to others as well – let’s say you clean houses – so your work allows you to gift people with a fresh and healthy place to live, it cheers and encourages them to come home to your work and that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning.

We should begin to question the situation if none of these needs are being met – especially if you feel you are GIVING these things with nothing being given in return.  Is this thing producing good fruit in your life? Is it helping you become a better you? Sometimes things can start that way then change – where is it now?

If a situation or relationship is lacking all 4 of these building blocks you should consider whether it is still “alive”. It is ok to let go of something that is dead. In fact that is healthy. I would say, however, that before you sever a friendship or relationship that you do some serious soul searching. Have you tried to provide any or all of these building blocks? Have you done your best to meet the needs of the other person? Is this relationship (business or personal) a reciprocal environment, meaning are you investing alone or is the other person investing also? Often relationships go through seasons of change and hardship – focusing on these building blocks together could help save a dying relationship.

If you are like me and have a hard time ending things it is Goodness to just think about the situations/relationships in your life and what condition they are in. We encourage you to Choose Life and let go of the dead stuff.


A "Good" Idea:
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8 Responses

  1. Teressa says:

    Great topic! Struggled with this issue since early childhood. Especially can relate to the problem of not valuing self and the part this plays in the scenario. I realize where this comes from of course. Situations led to a sense of having nothing of value or worth to share, nothing to give, and that I was boring! I became afraid of rubbing off my negative experiences on others and began to withdraw out of fear for other persons. After years of introspection I came to realize that this was not true. Now I am left with the lingering issue of a block in forming relationships, and at my age-that’s not an easy issue is it? Would like to hear your view on how to become a person who relates well. I am a great listener (actually hear) and discerner. I am a self-professed, and “former” fixer of problems for many. How might this all relate? What do you think gives? Hope I remained closely enough on topic and that you are open to discussion.

    • Sooz says:

      Teressa, this is great stuff. I think what you are describing is familiar to many of us. Difficulty forming relationships is common, especially as our world becomes more anonymous. My first suggestion is always to consider the listening piece – we have to be good “present” listeners to develop relationships. You, however, are a good listener – I know this personally, and you are a good discerner. The next thing I think of is the need to come to the relationship with no personal agenda. No one thinks they have an agenda, but as “fixers” (which you and I both tend to be), it is easy to immediately feel the need to share an opinion or suggest something that might help the other person. These things are not wrong in and of themselves, but we have to watch our own desire to steer. As I get older I am learning that I had a lot more agenda than I realized, but even good agenda is still agenda. This may or may not apply to you. I am now trying to be as “agenda free” as possible with people and it is better for both of us. Finally, I have also found Tapping (The Tapping Solution with Nick Ortner http://www.thetappingsolution.com/) to be very helpful in moving old issues out of the way. It simply uses tapping points on the body along statements including “I completely love and accept myself” to help move the pain of old hurts. It sounds strange and even silly but I have been studying it for sometime and have found it to be profoundly useful. You and I both know emotional pain and patterns get “stuck” in us and it is difficult to dislodge it. It is as if we get imprinted with something when a trauma occurs in our life and we need to erase or move that negative thought pattern or behavior. Tapping is simple and helpful for me – it does not conflict with my spiritual beliefs or the therapeutic techniques I learned in clinical social work – but it is a bit unusual. I would encourage you to take a look at it and if you are comfortable, consider Tapping on these old blockages. I have gotten considerable relief this way. Hope this is helpful in some small way. Much love to you Teressa

  2. Traci Bailey says:

    Really good post!

  3. Teressa says:

    I ran across Tapping a year or so back. I appreciate the affirmation on the subject. I also understand the benefits this may play in dislodging old emotional hangups where issues have long since been dealt with, but seemingly the affects (damage) lingers. I do not think people stop and take time to understand how an issue becomes connected to the body via the brain, heart(emotions), and muscles and back once again. I can well see how the positive affirmations (acknowledgements) along with the Tapping relates and can alleviate those traps.
    And relax, you are an awesome “fixer”. No one needs a know-it-all, but that is not what you are. You are an awesome friend willing to stand with another in order to fight for their freedom. You have the timing all down pat. I did not say you were perfect, lol. But, the issue with fixing is not with the fixer, and not with you. Fixers are ready to do what the have been gifted to do. The issue with fixing is whether the one in need of a friend’s kindness is ready and willing to receive a gift of a friends wisdom. Thus, discernment is priority for the fixer at that point to decide readiness of the one in need.
    Allow me to share this. I am forever grateful for the woman who walked into my life, me-a complete stranger desperately in need of a friend, one Sunday morning to let me know she had my back and I could rest and heal. You boldly went on to speak truth and light into a very dark situation. Saving my life.
    A fixer is the ultimate friend. The one we should all pray for, but seldom tend to do so. We tend to want the one who tells us what we want to hear versus need to hear. You my friend are…”Goodness” and a marvelous fixer. Do not believe anything less about yourself. . Much love, respect, and thanks.

    • Sooz says:

      We walked through some difficult days together didn’t we? Thank you for your tender,most generous words. They lift me. I hold you close Teressa. What a joy it is to see you so happy and enjoying a beautiful life. It was hard fought and won. Enjoy the kayak! Goodness to you dear friend. xxoo

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