And, just like a sponge, when we are squeezed…stuff comes out.
I remember the first time life squeezed me (as an adult). I had an incompetent manager who treated our team poorly. During one of her rants my sponge was squeezed and some nasty things came out: anger, bitterness, judgment. It wasn’t pretty, and I certainly wasn’t proud of my behavior.
Cleaning My Sponge
Decades ago I committed to cleaning up my sponge. I forgave my family, myself, and even God for a difficult and traumatic childhood. I opened myself up to the belief that, as cliché as it may sound, “everything happens for a reason”, and I began to retrace the events that occurred in my life. I began to realize that after every difficult period, an amazing breakthrough or advancement occurred. Sometimes it took awhile, but each difficult period altered my path, opened a new door, taught me a lesson I needed to learn, or led me to a person I needed to meet.
It was kind of cool to realize that. I mean, what IF everything happened for a reason? What IF we aren’t being punished, but are simply being prepared?
How to Know What to Heal
The next big insight in what I like to call “sponge-work” came from realizing that we attract what we need to heal. This realization was shared by Iyanla Vanzant, who was coaching me at the time. She said, Terri, “We ATTRACT what we need to heal. You’ve attracted this. What do you need to heal?” Ouch. Good point.
I began to look around at the experiences and the people I had attracted. Each of these, good and bad, shined a light on something in myself that needed to be addressed. Something that needed attention.
So, what comes out of your sponge when you are squeezed?
If it’s a little squeeze, such as a conversation or belief you disagree with, what comes out of you? With the political strife, there must be plenty of these examples. Are you argumentative and try to prove your point? Or do you accept different views?
If it’s a medium-sized squeeze, such as a disagreement with a loved one or a co-worker, what comes out? Focus less on the response of the other person, and pay attention to your own response. Don’t judge your response, just observe it.
Simply OWN what comes out of you during these difficult times. It’s not about the other person, it’s about you and your response. Ask yourself what needs to be healed in order for your sponge to be clean.
And, for the big squeezes, such as an ending relationship, job loss, business failure or death of a loved one, how do you react? And I’m not talking about the initial few months of shock and grief after a big squeeze, because we are justifiably crazy for the period immediately after a traumatic loss.
I’m talking about after the dust settles. How ARE you? How did the big squeeze change you? Was it for the better? The same? Were you discouraged? Angry? Critical? More distrusting? Or, did you open to the possibility that good will come from the squeeze?
Life is a Sponge
So, what’s coming out of your sponge these days? Are you open to the possibilities of learning and becoming more? Or are you fighting life’s squeezes, avoiding them and shutting down? Are you still mad at the other person, or even God?
If you want more in your life, start with self-reflection. Pay attention to your sponge and accept responsibility for cleaning it up.
With the soulfulness of Wayne Dyer and the entrepreneurial spirit of Richard Branson, Terri is a world-class business growth expert, social impact investor, and serial entrepreneur whose purpose is to inspire potential. With her own money, Terri built a portfolio of purposeful companies, Share On Purpose, Inc., and now invests in and creates mission-driven start-ups.
In a career that spans more than 25 years, Terri has launched, owned, sold, rebranded or turned around more than 40 companies. She is known for her game-changing business models and personal transformation frameworks.
Everything she built came directly from a wellspring of perseverance and soulful resiliency, which she openly shares through her first purposeful brand, Succeed On Purpose.
What makes the chase for success even more challenging is when we go about it in the wrong way, and in some cases, for the wrong reasons. The result is feeling defeated. There is a better way to think about achieving success.