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The second of the Five Simple Steps is to Recognize Your Impasse. This is a crucial part of the Rapid Advance Process. Your Impasse is three-dimensional and includes: 1) a memory of a painful event; 2) how you felt at the time it happened and, 3)how you judged yourself and others at the time it happened.
Recognizing Your Impasse takes courage, introspection and self-intimacy. Most of all, you will have to be still in order to recognize it. Humans begin to distract themselves from their Impasse at a very early age because it can be overwhelming to face.
Here’s an example of how it starts. Let’s call our example Betty. Betty was the second-born in a family of three children. Her older sister was a special needs child and her parents argued frequently about how they should address the needs of her older sister. Betty was about three years old when the arguing would begin. She would hear them fighting almost every evening over treatment options while she lay in bed, trying to sleep. She was really scared during those times. Her interpretation of the events was that if she were less than a perfect child, her parents would start fighting and then perhaps leave each other and then their kids. An abandoned child would die. This was terrifying to little Betty!
While this was the erroneous thinking of a very young little girl, this thinking process set the stage for Betty’s Impasse: “I must be perfect or I will be abandoned.” When Betty was small these thoughts were overwhelming. so she began to distract herself from them. She started to suck her thumb and she began to behave in a perfect, controlled manner.
As Betty matured, so did her distractions from her “Impasse”. She grew up to be a workaholic and she smoked a lot of cigarettes. Her distractions from her Impasse were making her sick and tired. She turned to the Five Simple Steps of the Rapid Advance Process and when she Recognized the Impasse, she began to have her legitimate sadness about some tough emotional times in her childhood.
Here are the three dimensions of Betty’s Impasse: 1) the memory of her parents arguing over her special needs sister; 2) her feelings of fear and sadness when they argued; and, 3) her erroneous judgment her parents would abandon their kids and that she was unlovable to them unless she was perfect.
A good cry or two was about all it took for Betty to acknowledge her true experience and then begin to correct her earlier error in judgment. She realized that she was always lovable and acceptable just as she was. Her parents arguing was about the nature of their marital relationship and had nothing to do with their children. They argued because they were stressed out at the time. Ironically, they were stressed out because they loved their children so much.
Once Betty recognized her Impasse, she achieved an inner awareness that felt extremely liberating to her. She went into a recovery program for her addiction to nicotine and she started to think about restructuring her work calendar. Betty began to pay attention to how she built her identity and realized that she was incredibly hard on herself. As a result of her self-inflicted pressure to be perfect, she felt anxious much of the time. Betty wanted some peace of mind and joy in her life.
Recognizing Your Impasse is the pivotal and transformative step in the Rapid Advance Process. Stay tuned for Step Three: Releasing the Past.