Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.
After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.
I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the other.
Where You’re Going –
This morning, at a community group for dads, I talked with the men about the importance of “Putting First Things First.” It’s a concept which deals with knowing what’s truly the most important things in our lives and using those as a framework for how we live. When you know what’s important then every decision is made according to your paradigm, your life’s mission statement. If a decision is made that does not fit the schematics of who you are and who you want to become you make it right. Otherwise, you are traveling in the opposite direction of where you need to go.
Everything we do, walking the road of life, involves passion, energy, and time. We have limited supplies of all three. We have to choose how we are going to use them. Our life is a list of the things we do and deem important. The more items on our list the less passion, energy, and time we have to give each item. The fewer items on the list the more we have to give.
This is why knowing what’s important, where you are going, is a must. It allows us to make sure some items remain on our list, what important, and eliminate the unimportant. Direction is easy once we decide where we want to go.