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Finding My Way


Dear Reader,

Welcome to Lentz Letters. Each week you will find a letter on different topics that may touch on aspects of your life. This letter is entitled “Finding your way”.

Do you ever ask yourself, “How did I get here?” or “Who am I anyway?”. We can all admit that life has many twists and turns that are not always easy to navigate. But what happens when our days become blurred with compounding disappointments, broken relationships, shattered dreams, and difficulties with the demands of our jobs and relationships. When it becomes impossible to juggle all the balls at once the pain can be unbearable. Sometimes it can be easier not to feel anything at all. If this sounds familiar to you, think about what you have used to cope in these situations. Coping skills are not always helpful, but usually we start with what is readily at hand. For example, we might become our own “pharmacists”. Self -medicating with the little blue pill from a close “friend” or stopping at the local bar where making connection seems easier, at least for the night. Perhaps a part of yourself is vowing that tomorrow will look different. When tomorrow never comes you are faced head on with the seemingly increasing number of disgruntled and unsatisfied people in your life. Whether it is that quick but fleeting connection or the polarizing long- term relationships, self-doubt and other insecurities can set in. Yet, you keep trying. Trying to convince yourself that maybe next time it will be different. Unsatisfying coping are desperate attempts that can lead to a deeper disconnect from reality and a greater yearning for acceptance and connection with self and others. Who or what are you relying on in life that seems to lead to more heartache than peace of mind?

It reminds me of an old movie many people have repeatedly watched, the Wizard of Oz. In this movie Dorothy is yearning to find her way home. Throughout the movie our attention is focused on how the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz had the ability to help her achieve this goal. We trust and believed that this goal was obtainable through this one mysterious source. With great anticipation we cheer on the character, Dorothy, as she makes painstaking steps in her journey towards asking the wizard to help her find her way. We hang onto the notion, that all she needs is the opportunity to ask him for this help. I hate to provide a spoiler alert for those of you who were deprived this movie in your childhood, but once Dorothy was finally able to extend the Big Ask, Oz dashed her hopes. Her efforts meaningless, the breath used to even express the request waisted and as if that was not bad enough; it was followed up with a harsh dismissal from his presence. Dorothy was left stunned and alone. She, surely, began to question herself. Besides, she had done everything she could to please Oz, not batting an eye when given an ultimatum, either kill the Wicked Witch of the West or forget even thinking about seeing dreams materialize! The man that she put so much faith in denied her what she so desperately needed. Doubts about herself began to stir and her stomach knotted up with fears about her future. But Toto, Dorothy’s beloved dog, saved the day by pulling back a curtain that Oz was hiding behind! Our eyes dart from Dorothy, still shocked from the rejection, and all viewers interests heighten by witnessing what/who is really bellowing behind the curtain. What we expected to be revealed is a powerful figure, the image of an untouchable, unapproachable, omnipotent figure. Were our eyes playing tricks on us? It was a small, awkward and very timid man using a machine to enhance his powerful image with sounds, smoke and projection. We learn in that moment that this great and powerful figure could not help himself let alone anyone else find their way in life. Notice how the viewers in this story are no different than the participants. Viewers settle for life as it is defined by others for them rather than searching deeper for the meaning, understanding and truth. To prove this point, think about how much you trusted in the caregiver that raised you. This wizard -like character was no different that so many oppressive and critical people who find ways of hiding the truth about themselves, in order to appear more powerful that they really are. Like so many of us, we don’t want to believe that the significant people in our lives could be flawed. Instead, it is ingrained in our brains that the flaw must be found within ourselves!

It made me realize that we can get off track with our life when we look for answers about the broken connections with self, life and others in all the wrong people, places and things. We listen to and accept without challenging the familiar, yet devaluing voices from the past. Willingly we give up our power and energy and allow them to define our paths in life. We minimize the choice we have with the path we take and how we navigate that path. I am curious if you could identify a Wizard like character in life? Is it time for you to pull back the curtain and take a closer look at why, like Dorothy, relying on this voice to help find your way, day by day, has not given you the relief you are looking for? In fact, it may have you questioning issues of self -worth, responsibility, control and safety. Our own coping skills, which can include readily listening to the voices from within and looking for that quick solution, can keep us stuck in the ups and downs of life. But we don’t have to remain stuck. Begin the process of getting unstuck by considering what or who has kept you from navigating life’s ups and downs? Therapy offers a safe place to examine this question.

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