Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

The Disquiet in Men

Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

The red pill or the blue pill?

Graphic_black_and_white.gif“Time for Change” focuses on different issues about the Disquiet. It’s like a coaching conversation in which I will work on a particular aspect and provide steps you can take to work with your own Disquiet. You can ask questions or share you experiences here in the comments below.

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This month’s article: The red pill or the blue pill?

What if you knew your spouse was going to die and you kept trying to do everything you could to change that tragic outcome?

I have been spending a lot of time on planes and watching in-flight movies. What I described above was happening in a movie called “Premonition” in which Sandra Bullock is desperately trying to save her husband. I won’t give away the plot and outcome here.

What I do want to highlight is her basic belief was she could control everything. Don’t we do the same thing?

In struggling with the Disquiet, many men realize that a lot of their pain comes from the death grip they have on life, trying to control everything to make sure it all works out. One of my clients described his life as a very tightly woven fabric. He had an amazing amount of financial obligations and a salary maxed out to meet them. He felt like he had absolutely no wiggle room and was desperately trying to make it all work. Sound familiar?

It can be easy to feel like a victim when struggling with the Disquiet, seeing life as not fair or as a hopeless trap. Life happens, and a lot of it’s hard. But how do you respond? Some of us shake our fists at the world for its unfairness to us. But what does that actually accomplish – for us and for the people we care about? It usually keeps us stuck.

In engaging our disquiet, there’s a paradox. We have to let go of trying to control the externals of our life, let go of madly moving the chess men around the board to have this thing called life work out the way we want. But in letting go of trying to control life, we actually have to assume greater responsibility for something else: how we respond to life. This is what Sandra Bullock’s character discovers. Despite all her efforts, she comes to learn that she had very limited control over how life goes. What she realized, though, is that she DID have a say in how she related to and experienced the events of her life.

This represents a radical shift in how most of us live our lives. So many of us live in a dream that we can (or are supposed to) control life itself, and never wake up to the reality that all we can control is on the inside – how we relate to life. I see that this shift as a literal “waking up” that is required to engage the Disquiet productively.

The movie, “The Matrix” is a movie about waking up. In one famous scene, the main character is given the choice between taking a blue pill or red pill. The blue pill will allow him to continue living as he is, remaining ignorant of the fact that he is living in a world of illusion. The red pill will bring him the truth and freedom to see things as they really are. But, as the movie shows, there is a price to truth and freedom. The truth can be painful.

There is a kind of accountability once you are awake. You can no longer claim to be a victim of fate. The Disquiet is a choice point between the red pill and the blue pill. If you chose the red pill, you can start waking up to what is not working in your life and start to create the path for a new relationship to your life. And like the movie “Premonition”, you may not be able to control everything that you thought you could, but where you do have total control is in HOW you live and love.

So waking up to your Disquiet means taking the red pill: accepting responsibility to take a fearless stock of what’s true in your life. It can be painful but it is freeing. If you’re like many of us, this may be the last thing you want to do. But turning to face it full force and really looking at what is going on is the first step in the process of getting the freedom to live fully – no matter what is happening.

So what will it be: blue pill or the red pill?



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