Let’s Have a Tug Of War
I have all kinds of memories come to mind when I think of tug-of-wars.
Elementary School when it would be class vs class or boys vs girls. We would do this activity for recess or for team building activities or on Field Day. For the younger years it was super nice and just trying to get the other group over the line. As we got older it was definitely a “My class is going to beat your class.”
Then as I got to teenage years and youth conferences and even into college activities it grew into bigger, more competitive situations. Sometimes pulling the group that lost into a mud pile or water. There were all kinds of tactics that people would try to use like where to place people or who had the back end or the front end, etc.
As you think about a tug-o-war what things do you think of? I think of when our group was just too tired and honestly when we were done we would just let up and let go and the other group would fall back, because the resistance was gone. Then there were times that they would say go and one of the groups really wasn’t going to participate and just let the rope pull back fast and hard. With tug-of-wars there’s resistance, there’s a war on who is going to win, muscles used and all of the might of trying to win or if you didn’t care you just let it go. There’s lots of ways to think about this game, or is it a game? In fact, I was just curious and I looked up to see if this a professional activity and it is. So, from childhood to adulthood to all different levels, it’s something we can all relate to.
Recently in counseling I wanted to talk with my counselor about differences, what things are important, not important, what do I stand up for and what things do I just let go. When is it worth the battle and when is it not, because honestly battles take a lot of energy and time that so often I don’t want to put my energy into. But then on the other hand, I’ve spent a lot of my life striving to make everyone else happy and not myself and I’ve had a deep sadness and don’t want to feel that either. I’m striving to find a good balance.
Now that I’ve come to understand my value and who I am I find myself going to the other extreme of not letting people walk all over me. I speak up, speak out and often find myself getting super angry when I feel that someone is crossing into my space trying to hurt me. This comes from a long history of people crossing into my space and hurting me and me having to stay quiet or there being threats and a deep fear that I wouldn’t be loved or no one would believe me.
My counselor is working with me on the extremes - the all or nothing mentality. I’m working on finding more of a middle ground and that’s really good for me, but sometimes with different things I find myself really feeling passionate one way or another.
So, think about it, what things, what people, what circumstances do you get into a tug-of-war with people? I know that for me in the years of my leadership positions I would. I would feel strongly that a certain way would work best and I’d push for it to be that way. I know that parenting - holy smokes - parenting feels like the ultimate tug-of-war. My boys are getting older, 3 are adults, different stages of adulthood and wow, there can definitely be differing opinions. I want so badly to shield them from the things I did and the things I learned from my mistakes, but they know better and quite honestly, they need to learn from their own experiences, just like I did. Are there times that there’s a tug-of-war with a spouse or siblings or even neighbors?
So, in counseling as we were talking about specific situations and at times I felt passionate about some of the situations my counselor would look at me and say set down the rope. Let go of the rope and don’t have a tug-of-war. I would look at him and be like, um, really, but and I had a list of reasons that I didn’t feel I should give up that war. I want my boundaries respected. I want to be safe. I want to know that I can trust those that I’m letting go of the rope with - that they will want good things for me. I had reasons why I was sure in certain circumstances that people were doing things to hurt me. That if I let go of the rope I’d get hurt - I would be laughed at and I would lose.
And my counselor would say alright??? I would lose. Is that so bad? And what am I losing? I’m losing the anger? I’m losing the fight? I get to put my energy into positive things. I shared my opinion or thoughts and they didn’t listen and now they get to learn the hard way - is that bad? Did I survive learning for myself? And, just what if, the interaction was good intentioned and good will and because they did love me and were trying to help me? AND, what if their idea is a great idea and will work out just as great or maybe better than my idea?
Over the last couple of years I’ve been learning this lesson and wow, it has been so freeing to let go. To let others experience life and me not try to shield or take it all on. I don’t have all of the right answers. I don’t have a responsibility to save everyone. I don’t need to mind read. I don’t know how people feel about me. Quite honestly, the greater struggle has been how I feel about myself.
So, this last week my specific assignment from counseling has been to set the rope down. Let go of the rope. Not in a mean way, but in a way of recognizing things that are better to just set the rope down and move on. Relationships before being right or wrong. There have been several times over this last week that I’ve had to challenge myself. I’ve also had to look at what’s super important to me, defines me and what I’m not willing to back down on and what things I can let go. I have to say that with this assignment I’ve found that this happens so often in our day to day lives in so many different ways.
I’ve found such a greater internal happiness and peace. I’ve found that I have a lot of lessons to learn, but that I’m so excited about this lesson. I’m so excited to have these words play through my mind each day and something to ask myself as I face so many different circumstances. It’s been such a blessing.
So, take the time and think about it, when is it worth the tug-of-war and when is it best to set the rope down, not yank on it, not to hurt anyone, not to give that last little nudge, but to set the rope down peacefully and let go and honestly let God. It’s a very healing thing.
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A wife and mother of 4 boys and 2 daughter-in-law, I have spent my entire adult life devoted to my family. I have been busy in their schools, supporting them in all of their school work, sporting events, activities, etc. I spent years heavily involved in the PTA, church callings, etc Life for me has always been overwhelmingly busy. While I thought this was my sanity, the truth is it masked issues - real issues - that I needed to work on to gain true sanity. I am sharing my story in this blog. I do this so that I might be able to help other women find their true sanity