The Other Shoe Syndrome
Ever heard that one about the “other shoe” and how we’re supposed to wait for it to drop?
Seriously, what is that all about? Why are we waiting? And, what’s the cost on our lives of waiting for that other shoe to drop?
First, some history 🙂
As it turns out, the expression “waiting for the other shoe to drop” originated during the manufacturing boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in NYC. At the time, apartments in NYC were mechanical by design, meaning that each apartment was laid out exactly the same. So, if you lived on a lower floor, someone above you had their bedroom in exactly the same place. It was a common occurrence to hear your neighbor come home from work and remove their shoes. First one, and then…
wait for it…
The Other Shoe Syndrome was born.
Out of this syndrome, two basic assumptions emerged. The first is that the drop of the second shoe is inevitable. The other, the drop of the second shoe is usually something bad.
The other week, a few coworkers I haven’t seen in a while were asking how I had been and what I had been up to. As I excitedly shared my recent hire with LifeTime Fitness, upcoming events and new prospects on the horizon, I thought about the fact that I’ve finally hit my stride – how things were finally falling into place, what I’ve been working toward is working out and how my life keeps getting better and better.
The minute I thought this, a little (OK, a lot) of fear crept into my awareness.
The “other shoe” had come to call.
I was afraid acknowledging how great things were going would somehow ruin everything. I was secretly afraid that I’d be “found out” – that people would discover I wasn’t as extraordinary and talented as they thought I was and that they too would see me as not enough compared to other instructors. I was sacred shitless that I couldn’t do it all, but that I had to do it all in order to have it all and be successful. I was afraid if I let go of anything, I would ruin everything.
Even saying it all now, some of it seems so absurd. In fact, it’s common knowledge that we have to let go of something in order to make room for something else. Even if you’re the best juggler out there, at some point, you gotta put something down. And that same principle applies spiritually and emotionally in our lives. Even being afraid that I’m not “good enough” to be at LifeTime with their caliber of instructors, I know is ridiculous – that’s also the reason why I’m outing it to you. Fear loses its power when it’s brought into the light. But, even outing all this doesn’t completely take my fear away if in the back of my mind I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
To say it’s as simple as outing your fear or resisting it is like taking your 7-year old to the toy store and walking out empty handed. Trust me on this one. Fear is going to be around as long as we keep dreaming and living big. And, that’s OK. It just lets us know we’re in the right game because if we didn’t care at all, the dream really isn’t for us.
What’s problematic in the Other Shoe Syndrome isn’t so much the fear, but where we displace it – it’s buying into the idea that something good has to be followed by something bad. It’s the shittiest and falsest theory we allow our minds to accept and it will rob us of our success every time.
I’m not saying “bad” things never happen. Surely, we all experience challenges, but to say those challenges inherently “have to” follow something good is, well, crap.
What we need is a new theory, a new way of thinking about things and one of the easiest ways to counteract the Other Shoe Syndrome and learn to accept and receive all the good things that come our way, is to practice gratitude.
When the other shoe makes its appearance, you don’t need to minimize how great things are or play smaller in order to ward off anything bad. Instead, you can bask in all the good things in your life. You can celebrate all the wonderful things that surround you and that are in you.
This week, I’m celebrating how far I’ve come in almost four years – next Saturday at the Navy Yard will be the anniversary of my very first Sati class and I’d love for you to join me and celebrate another year on this crazy, awesome journey! I’m also recognizing (with the help of my coach), that I can’t do it all and the more I try, the more overwhelmed I become. It’s OK to let go. It’s OK to not know and trust. It’s even OK to celebrate what I’m up to and acknowledge that I deserve it.
Take a moment and acknowledge a big dream of yours or something that’s going really well for you right now. Put it out there fully and then just notice. Are you 100% excited and present with the bliss, or are your secretly waiting for that other shoe to drop? If you find yourself waiting for that other shoe, acknowledge you have a case of the Other Shoe Syndrome and shift your focus in the moment to gratitude. How can you thank where you are? How can you celebrate the dream before it’s here? How can you make your life a thank you?
While the other shoe might inevitably fall, we get to choose whether it’s a drop or a tap dance.