Jessica Soroky Guest Post #7: Is This My Choice To Make?

I’m starting to notice a pattern in myself: I process every problem differently now.

In some cases I sprint through the mental states of The Responsibility Process™, even skipping one or two, and getting to responsibility fairly quickly.

But recently, I encountered a problem that had me so stuck I turned to The Leadership Gift™ Program community for help. I decided to ask Christopher if I could bring up my problem on the next Q&A Dialog call.

Here on this call — surrounded by professionals who were all in different places on their journey to mastering personal responsibility, some that I knew very well and others I had never met before — I felt safe to share my problem: my friend had tried to take her own life.

I received a call two weeks ago from the ex-boyfriend of one of my closest friends. He was hysterical. I could barely understand what he was saying. I caught every few words: “Whole bottle….911….pills…not waking up…help.”

There was no denial — hearing him talk like that, my brain instantly accepted that this was true.

On the way to the hospital I called my mentor and The Leadership Gift Program Recognized Coach, Scotty. I was stuck and didn’t know what to do.

He started asking questions and helped me realize I was justifying my friend’s behavior. I felt my body get hot, I got mad, yelled at him, and rushed off the call.

I lived with this for over a week before confronting it on a Q and A call where I realized I was mad because I wanted him to solve my problem for me, I wanted him to tell me what to do next, how to best respond. He wouldn’t, and I am grateful now that he didn’t.

I sat in the hospital with her family and a few friends, all of us waiting to hear from the doctor how she was. I felt so much fear of losing my friend, I couldn’t move. I sat there just listened to the conversations around me. My brain started to connect the words to what mental states the other people were in.

“I can’t believe she would do this.” = Denial

“How could she do this to us?” = Blame

“I knew she was sad, she has been through so much lately, but I never thought this would happen” = Justify and then Denial

After a few hours, we were updated that her stomach had been pumped and she was now sleeping. They were admitting her under a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

The next day we all sat in the hospital again, trying to understand why this had happened. The entire time I was there she herself would only say one thing, “I’m sorry I wasn’t successful.”

I found myself not knowing how to interact with her anymore, what to say or what to do. I was stuck.

I asked the group on the call how to handle a situation like this, how to stay out of coping and to help get to responsibility so this situation would never happen again.

Christopher asked me something that hit me very deeply: he asked me to accept that I may not be able to prevent this problem from happening again. The choice for my friend to attempt suicide was hers, not mine.

I was stuck because I was trying to take control of an uncontrollable situation and masking it as trying to get to responsibility.

I had to accept that to take — or not take — her own life is not my choice to make — it’s only hers.

This was a hard thing for me to swallow. I’m not only a control freak but I tend to take ownership of problems around me even when they aren’t my problems to solve.

Christopher continued to talk about how to be accepting about where the true choices are, and allowing that suicide is simply something horrific my friends are capable of. “The wider your allowance is of what is true and real, the harder it will be for something or someone to break your reality.”

I fell silent on the call and in my head I said very slowly, “My friend attempting to take her own life is real, it is possible that it will happen again, it is not my choice to make and I love her.”

I repeated this over and over again as I continued to listen to Christopher and Scotty on the call.

But I still felt uneasy and a little stuck when Christopher said one sentence that helped me let go of the feeling that I needed to “fix her.”

He said, “The most powerful thing you can do for your friend is to love her.”

In the days since the call, whenever I approach this situation either in person or just mentally I repeat that same sentence in my head to keep from falling back into the control cycle.

“My friend attempting to take her own life is real, it is possible that it will happen again, it is not my choice to make, and I love her.”

Until I get to this mindset I am not in a resourceful mental state to support my friend.

How wide is your allowance for all possible outcomes at work or in your personal life?

Jessica Soroky, CSM
Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in the The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Posted in Responsibility on 10/23/2013 08:52 am
double line
responsibility.com logo dark circle