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XTimes 1.00- RescueFantasies

Judging from the many, many come-ons I receive from consultants, their business depends upon rescue fantasies. A proper prospective client must firmly believe they need rescuing and their proper consultant must shamelessly tout a solid track record of doing exactly that. Why else exist?

If I have a problem, somebody’s ready to claim that they have its solution. Their material reads like Johnny Burke’s old swing tune Swinging On A Star: “you could be better than you are, you could be swinging on a star.” Under the Extended Satisfaction Plan®, I could even learn how to carry moonbeams home in a jar. I didn’t even aspire to carry moonbeams until you suggested I could.

I think my second marriage was based upon some sort of rescue fantasy. It worked until it didn’t. The difficulty might have started with an unstated premise, that I could rescue another and that another could somehow rescue me. Not even love managed to conquer that fallacy.

My third marriage seems a tad more realistic. Sure, we love each other, but the love seems surrounded by something more practical, better grounded. We call this something Radical Acceptance. Our relationship doesn’t depend upon either of us trying to transform the other into who we really should have been all along. It’s not contingent upon successfully changing anything; and so it’s fine as it is.

Public Secret: I have my rough edges. The Muse has hers, too, but neither of us are famous rough edge filers. But I’m speaking of the realm of relationships, not consulting, which, ... oh crap, that’s a relationship, too. What’s the difference? Consulting might be all about relationships, but it’s most often engaged in as if it were governed by the rules of transactions: an exchange rather than an interchange, a deliverable producing deliverance rather than a dialogue intended to broaden and deepen appreciative understanding. Relationships can be plenty transforming, but nobody walks away from them rescued, or needs to.

It took more than half of my life so far to accept that I might not need to be rescued, that I was and am perfectly (well, imperfectly) capable of fixing most of my own worst difficulties. I still depend upon a lot of people to help me survive, but ever fewer with the implicit notion that they might fix some probable eternal feature of me. Some book promoting the beneficial contribution of introverts like me has been hanging on the NYT Bestseller List for weeks, and I’m noticing that even the self-helpless books are increasingly prescribing acceptance and appreciation rather than rescue by radical transformation.

The Brief Consultant (that’s me!) quietly rejects every client’s insistence that they have a problem they cannot resolve without someone like me rescuing them. “The problem isn’t the problem how they’re coping with the difficulty might be,” I repeat to myself as a mantra to more mindful engagement. They’re most probably just stuck, though stuck rarely feels like a just state; more like sinking in quicksand. That’s a feeling, not really sucking quicksand: no rescue required. Perhaps an ounce of relationship could displace a pound of cure.

”What was it that you intended to end up with when this process fell apart? Why did you pursue that? How would I tell if you’d achieved your intention?” These are the Miracle Questions, bridge builders connecting intention to the senses again. So focused upon how, anyone can lose connection to what. Imprinted upon what, anyone could forget why. Driving toward what with how, all too aware of why, anyone could forget to nail down how anyone else might tell. Hanging up each for consideration: What? Why? How?, allows for conscious appreciation, deliberate dissection, and radical acceptance. Nobody need rescue anyone if they untangle their own conundrum.

I think of consulting as a catalyst, never the primary resource or means of producing anything. A small injection of compressed air, perhaps, into a troubling transformation. A pinch of salt, five minutes of rest to reabsorb juices back into the roast. Sometimes, well, most of the time, I just need someone else’s forehead to bounce my own ideas off of so I can echo-locate my own resolution. I suspect you’re like that, too.

Few acts seem more tragic than coerced rescue. Once I’m convinced that I need rescuing, I’m prey to any practiced rescuer. I also forfeit any opportunity to resolve my own difficulty while paying a premium price for the privilege.

I delete every one of those come-ons. I know most of these well-intended touts. They mean well but their wellness seems mean. The greatest harm anyone can do another might be to undermine their ability to save themselves. No greater gift, perhaps, than the reminder that I do not need anyone to rescue me from my present difficulties, which number well into the plenty range and sometimes seem overwhelmingly daunting. Just imagine how powerful I’ll feel after I’ve untangled my own Search and Rescue Knots.

This posting is the first of a new series, ExtraordinaryTimes.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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