About fifteen years ago, my first husband and I found ourselves in a period where we were constantly facing financial challenges, sometimes barely able to pay the bills.
We were making every effort to remedy the situation, doing without things that we needed and wanted in order to make ends meet or at least have the ends see each other. We spent a lot of effort negotiating and renegotiating who would be responsible for which bills, yet someone was always coming up short.
And any time there was an emergency—say, a car in need of repair or the washing machine breaking— we found ourselves depleting the savings we had managed to put aside. Needless to say, we argued about money a lot.
I thought he should work more, get that second job that he was always talking about, be more frugal and cut back on his leisure spending.
I am sure he had a list of things he thought I ought to be doing differently, too. But we couldn’t hear each other, and the situation was not getting any better.
Then one day, I was lamenting to my best friend that I was concerned about being able to partner with my husband to increase our income. She said in a very matter-of-fact way, “Monika, you have the ability to make more money. What are you waiting for? Just do it. Then you can just pay the bills and let him do what he does.”
It was such a simple statement, yet I had a lot of but’s: But the man ‘should’.… But a couple ‘should’….
As open-minded and enlightened as I thought was, I was caught between at least two outdated partnership paradigms from different decades—and neither one was working for me. I had been told all of my life that the man should provide for the family, whatever it took.
My own father took various jobs— on the railroad, at a nonprofit, as a community action agency executive, as a municipal employee—to provide for us. But having grown up in the 70s, I also had strong ideas about being independent, taking care of myself, not needing anyone.
My mother always told me to have my own money and never be dependent on a man. And then I had an image of marriage created in the movie studios. For the most part, I knew that wasn’t real because I didn’t know anyone that lived that way, yet I still wanted a version of the ideal married life created by Hollywood.
I wasn’t alone. Most women and many men are caught up in the messages they learned from movies, the media, parents, books, church doctrine, political doctrine, etc. which portrays images of how life ‘should’ be that often have nothing to do with our own reality or our own relationships.
Meanwhile the world—economics, gender roles, marriage patterns— have changed dramatically and neither the kind of life my mother and father had, nor do the TV-manufactured marriages the likes of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore exist anymore.
I continued to blame my husband while I considered, reluctantly, resentfully, this idea that I was going to have to save the day by creating the resources we needed. And we all know that if you keep doing what you always do, you will keep getting what you always got. I wasn’t going to get anywhere thinking the way I’d always thought.
That’s what happens sometimes to our dreams and visions—they’re blocked by our own limited thinking. We see things one way, which means we can’t envision all the other possible ways things could be.
Oh, we can see that other people can enjoy success in life, career, vocation, relationship or whatever, but we tell ourselves that that’s not an option for us. We think that person is succeeding by some special luck, talent or miracle of birth that we weren’t blessed with.
In order to manifest a vision, a dream, a goal, we have to be able to remove the mental and emotional blocks to that vision.
Now, I define blocks differently than obstacles. Obstacles are external barriers or impediments, often things we have no control over. Blocks, as I define them, are primarily internal challenges—something that’s going on inside yourself that’s hindering your own progress. Your blocks may come from your belief systems or attachments you’ve formed. They may be rooted in words you repeat to yourself, deep-seated beliefs, values, emotional hurts, and the way you make meaning of or interpret your experiences.
Whatever the source, blocks are forms of stagnation impeding your progress toward your vision.
This is an important step because, in order to make a Life Map—much less travel any road on that map—you have to be able to envision a way to cross the rivers, traverse the mountains, and navigate the valleys.
You have to see beyond the things that seem to be blocking you. With the Life Mapping, there are some exercises and ways to think about blocks that can support you moving through them to the other side. Check out some of my past blogs on fear, and other blocks. Check out the book for more information.