Step Away From The Suck

Golden nuggets of gorgeousness!

A few weeks ago I was playing some singing bowls.

I grabbed six of my favorites and plopped myself down on the floor of my studio.

I was totally ready to rock out and soak up some bowl-ey goodness.

So I’m thwacking away. And the bowls are sounding sweet.

Then. All of a sudden. It sucked.

The sound totally went wonky.

Here I am eyes-closed, loving-it, in-a-gorgeous-groove and this crap nugget shows up.

It jolted me straight out of the deliciousness in a fit of WTF?!


Turns out I grabbed a bowl I didn’t mean to grab. And it happened to be one that sounded like ass with the other bowls I was playing.

It was no big deal.

I figured out what happened. The wonky faded fast. And I was back to gorgeous in no time.

But the whole thing shook a little aha! out of me.

Suck happens

Sometimes I wish life was a steady stream of awesome. Free of any ack, ugh and ouch.

But suck happens sometimes.

That’s just how things go. I don’t have a lot of control over that.

But I do have control over how I handle it.

Which I get sounds like some garden variety self-help-ey lameness. A double decker of trite with a side of cliché.

But this bowl thing got me thinking.

What if I handled all suck the way I handled this?

The problem with perpetual poking

Until now, my suck-handling strategy has looked a little something like this.

Suck detected. Poke the suck. Pokepokepoke. Fixate. Freak out.

My usual m.o. has been to perpetually poke the suck while I try to sort it out. Feeding it with gobs of energy and attention and angst.

It’s not even close to the most helpful way to handle suck. Because it just creates more suck.

It would be like me banging that sounded-like-ass bowl a hundred times at full volume.

It just amplifies the ack.

So what if I give the suck some space instead of poke-poke-poking it?

Letting it fade

I got the suck with the bowls sorted so fast because I didn’t get keep poking.

I hit the initial wonky note. I let it fade. And I fixed the problem by grabbing the bowl I meant to grab in the first place.

The feels-really-important piece in this is the I-let-it-fade part.

I didn’t prolong the aural ack by repeatedly thwacking the bowl that I knew sounded bad.

I heard the bad note. And I let it fade.

I just gave it space.

And everything was totally fine.

I’ll be with you in a minute

So I’ve been playing around with a new suck-handling strategy as a part of this flow thing.

Now when suck crops up I do my best to give it space.

I step away. I don’t poke. I focus on something else.

Not in a la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you way. It’s more of a I’ll-be-with-you-in-a-minute kind of thing.

But it doesn’t have to be an actual minute.

It can be as long as I want.

Because part of my new strategy is giving myself complete and total permission to take as much space as I need.

Ten minutes. Six hours. Four days. Whatever.

I give myself the space I need so that I can come back to it in a way that doesn’t add to the ack.

Plus then I can deal with the suck on purpose. Instead of just knee-jerking my way through it.

Space FTW!

It’s really rad how well this works.

It doesn’t always make the suck go away all by itself*.

But it alwaysalwaysalways gives me the clarity I need to deal with the suck in a way that actually works.

In a way that doesn’t feed it. Or prolong it. Or get me tangled up in it.

It makes it cleaner. And easier. And way less sucky.

*But it is kind of amazing how many little things that could have turned into big things just go buhbye when given a little breathing room.

It’s contagious

Apparently this works for other people too.

This week a friend of mine stopped by. They needed to rap about some hard stuff they’re dealing with right now.

Great big hard life stuff.

We were yacking it up for an hour or so. Deep and intense chatter.

And I could see that my friend was getting totally knotted up in the hard.

They were just going in circles. ‘Round and ‘round and ‘round the suck.

So I suggested we take a break and drum for ten minutes.

Before we even had the drums back in their cases my darling friend knew exactly what they needed to do.


Digging it

I think I’ll keep playing with this space thing.

Because so far I’m really digging it.

It’s already made things so much easier. And less tangle-ey.

And it’s kind of an awesome alternative to poking the suck.

So now I’m really glad that I accidentally snagged that bowl.

How do you deal with suck?
What’s your first thought when you think about giving suck some space?

I’m curious. Let’s talk.

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16 Responses to Step Away From The Suck
  1. Shamsi
    July 15, 2010 | 12:59 pm

    Dude. Always, thank you for your perspective. Glad we’re rolling around in the same big bowl, it’s just good to share the space with you♥

  2. Fabeku
    July 15, 2010 | 1:01 pm

    @Shamsi – Thanks you. And ditto on the glad-and-sharing-space thing.

  3. Sarah
    July 15, 2010 | 2:13 pm

    Brilliant as usual! For me, making space around suck sometimes makes me feel vulnerable: like if I get to calm and softness and compassion around the suck, then what if it still sucks? I think there’s probably some brilliant balance between compassion and sovereignty here, but I’m not sure I’ve found it yet!

  4. skaja
    July 15, 2010 | 3:12 pm

    Awesome times infinity.

    I think I may print this out and carry it with me because I’ve so been all about analyzing my suck and trying to figure out what the heck is up with me.

    I’ve noticed I start to feel better faster if I’m distracted from the immediate freaking-out issue and let some things work themselves out.

    Yay you for sharing this. 🙂
    .-= skaja´s last blog ..Photo of the day – looking for noms =-.

  5. Fabeku
    July 15, 2010 | 3:30 pm

    @Sarah – I so hear on you on the vulnerable part.

    I think that’s one of the reasons I was so quick to jump on the suck – to make sure it didn’t ambush me or something. So giving it space can feel kind of scary.

    For me, even if the space doesn’t make the suck vanish, I can come back to it with a certain coolness that I might not have had originally. So I can handle the suck that’s there in a way that feels better and is more effective.

    And, if it helps, I’ve found that the fear around giving suck space gets less and less for me the more I try it and see that it’s an ok thing to do.

    @Skaja – That’s a really good piece of information to have – that you feel better when there’s some distance between you and the suck! Awesome.

    I know if I dive straight into the suck, it usually just gets worse. Partly because I’m all trigger-ey and acked out. And partly because I think some suck feeds on trigger-ey.

    It’s been interesting to see how the suck responds when I don’t dump a big heap of trigger-ey onto it right out of the gate.

  6. Wendy Cholbi
    July 15, 2010 | 4:06 pm

    Oh me oh my. Another great post that brought on a serious moment of “bing!”

    See, I’ve got a drill sergeant living in my head, loudly warning me that if I don’t face my problems right this minute it means I’m a quitter, a coward, or worse.

    Also I tend to live in my head a lot so my default response to anything negative is to analyze, research, examine, and try my darndest to figure it out because I’m so sure that once I have some hard-to-define level of understanding, things will somehow become better.

    Or, as you put it so succinctly, Pokepokepoke. Fixate. Freak out.

    So I lovelovelove the idea of “I’ll be with you in a minute.” Perhaps my drill sergeant is dating a gatekeeper secretary… you know, the frosty type who looks down her nose at anyone walking through the door, raising an eyebrow and intoning “And you are…?”

    Ha! Thanks for giving me a chuckle. That helps a lot.
    .-= Wendy Cholbi´s last blog ..Backups and Upgrades- The Greatest Hits Collection =-.

  7. Amy
    July 15, 2010 | 4:47 pm

    Oh, how suck and I have been dancing lately. I am finishing a book – you know, THE book, the one that, even if it never gets published, has already changed my life. And we’re at the VERY LAST STEPS – the writing of proposal, the polishing the prose. THE VERY END OF THE PROCESS. And I have been locked into this suck dance. I got lyme disease, my mother broke her leg, today – on my way to the yoga class that was gonna calm me down so I could write the VERY LAST BIT, I dropped the garbage can on my foot and cracked my toenail in half. It bled. It hurt like hell. Let me reiterate. The GARBAGE can. I finally got it. I’m scared. The suck isnt suck at all. The suck is trying to help me – it’s trying to get my attention. It’s there to help me channel the anxiety into something besides the project – to keep me from shredding my beautiful book out of fear that it or I wont be good enough. In fact, look at this. The suck has done it again – even in writing this, I see a blog post for my own site. Thanks fabeku! This didn’t suck – at all.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Your life gesture =-.

  8. Linnea
    July 15, 2010 | 6:11 pm

    I want to put this post in my pocket and carry it around with me. Every time I think you cannot possibly outdo a previous awesome, you do.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Giant Suck-Poking Stick to toss in the bin.
    .-= Linnea´s last blog ..Dual Focus- Wishcasting Wednesday =-.

  9. Crystal
    July 15, 2010 | 6:59 pm

    What a hilarious mental image — banging the crap-sounding bowl a hundred times. ;D

    I currently deal with suck differently depending on what kind of suck it is, and I do think dealing with suck is a progression, a learning process, and that the way people need to deal with suck can change over time. Like…

    Once upon a time, suck didn’t tangle my brain, so my favorite way to deal with suck was to immediately recognize it, decide on a plan for fixing it, and, if possible, set the plan in motion, which banished any negativity I had about the suck existing. Being empowered to work on changing the suck, no matter how long it took, made me able to accept its existence. That held true even for stuff that’s bigger than me. There’s always someone else working on solving a big problem (like there are people trying to cure cancer), and if I can contribute to their suck-solving even in a small way (say, by donating to cancer research), that would provide my anti-suck soul-balm and I could move on even if the suck still technically existed.

    But that was then. Right now, I’m still recovering from a period where I kept being told that I was delusional about suck, and the people around me wouldn’t acknowledge the suck — or when the suck was finally acknowledged, I was told that yes, the suck was there, but I would just have to put up with it because the people involved were “working on it.” Since the suck was rather largely caused by what other people were doing, and I couldn’t stop contributing to the suck without veering away from my personal ethics (which is another kind of suck ;)), I had trouble figuring out what to do. I didn’t want to delude myself about the existence of the suck, but I also didn’t want to do something unethical in order to prevent exposure to the part of the suck that was coming from others — creating personal suckiness to avoid other people’s suckiness seems like a negative non-solution. Since no amount of positive problem-solving on my part could make the suck go away, I *did* end up allowing myself to use the “la la la I can’t hear you” technique, against my own desire for truth, as a temporary coping method … and ultimately I ended up dealing with the suck by leaving the situation entirely, which was what I really wanted to do to begin with, so … yay?

    But I still carry the residue of being told for two years that I was wrong about the suck. Using your analogy, I heard the bad note and I wanted to pick up a new bowl and keep going, but I kept getting told I was hearing wrong and that no one was allowed to “unnecessarily” change bowls, even while I was listening *right then* to the bad note. Even when I stepped away, I would come back and there was the bad note, still going, like one of your super-bowls. (Sheeeesh!) Or maybe more like someone else banging their own wonky bowl a hundred times and screaming that it sounded great. 😉

    So right now, the part that’s important to me is “allow yourself to recognize and acknowledge the bad note, and trust your own ability to do so.”

    Meaning that right now I deal with suck by allowing myself to do whatever it takes to reassure myself that I am not wrong about the suck existing. I let myself talk about the suck, and analyze it if I want to, because that builds my own trust in myself that yes, I am capable of recognizing suck. And once I fully trust myself to recognize suck again, I will be more empowered to trust myself to efficiently and realistically problem-solve the suck.

    As far as giving suck space, I definitely think that when suck tangles your brain, giving it space until you feel less tangled is probably THE best way to deal with it (unless you’re forced to deal RIGHT NOW by some kind of twist-of-fate, life-or-death deadline ;)). Of course, there *are* some people who use “giving suck space” as an alternative term for “run away from the big suck without actually getting rid of it, tangle up your brain further by pretending stepping away is the same thing as solving a problem, and then forget the suck is going to happen again if you do the same thing you did before” — which is … ungood. YOU aren’t doing that, but some people do, and they need a different anti-suck strategy.

    Which is cool, because there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution, and I kinda like that complexity of life, the universe, and everything. 😀
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Serenity- attachment and growth enlightenment through crafting =-.

  10. James
    July 15, 2010 | 7:36 pm

    Just to say thank you for putting ‘give it space’ into clearer terms. I never knew what that meant. Whereas I can understand: walk away, focus on something else for a while, come back to it later.

    Next thing is to get over my panic about forgetting about the suck so that I never come back to it. But all kinds of stuff is already popping in my head about that.

    So thanks.

  11. Joan Bright
    July 17, 2010 | 4:21 pm

    This is fantastic, wonderful and even better with what everyone who has commented so far has added to the dialogue. Crystal, I think I’ve experienced a lot of what you are talking about recently. I also received affirmation that I did indeed hear suck, wasn’t crazy, overreacting or delusional and someone who can actually do something about communicating to the people committing the suck that they need to stop it, gave me that affirmation. I needed that trust in myself, too. And I got it. The really big sitch full of suck before this one? I left the sitch which was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t easy and I’ve been unemployed ever since, except for a couple of part time gigs that were also temporary. I still know that I’m getting better at this! and I appreciate knowing that my over-analyzing and fixating may have made even that harder than it had to be, but! I can learn to help myself by not doing that, when I see it. Thank you, Fabeku, for the awareness, and the clarity and everyone for the expansion of the concepts to fit more and different pieces of life. You are all amazing!

  12. Noura
    July 19, 2010 | 9:30 am

    so totally on target!!! I’ve been dealing w/ a major suck lately & it’s mostly worked out & moved on from and all that, but as soon as I go poking around to see if any related suck is lingering, it brings it all up again for me to muck around in. I need to completely release it and move on. No more of this sucky muck. Thanks again for this ack-free perspective!

  13. chris zydel
    July 21, 2010 | 1:11 am

    Hey fabeku,

    What a great post! I, too, love the totally ridiculous image of you continuing to bang the sucky bowl even though you were hating it.

    It reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit where these two dumbass guys would do dumbass things like put their head in a vise or a screwdriver in their ear and then complain about how awful those things were with the punchline ” I HATE when that happens!” implying they were victims of their dumbass distress.

    But you’re right… when we focus on the stuck suck it’s like continuing to hit ourselves in the head with a hammer and then wondering why we have a headache (-:

    Banging on the drums is a MUCH better genius solution.

  14. Fabeku
    July 21, 2010 | 11:29 am

    @Wendy – A drill sergeant! Ouch. That’s hard. Especially when he’s shouting mean things at you. I can totally see why you’d want to keep poking with that happening.

    My own version of that is a Chicken Little-esque type of character. He thinks the sky is falling when suck shows up. So he pokes it to make sure he’s not going to suffer some horrible, awful, immediate death.

    I love the idea of hooking your drill sergeant up with the secretary with faboo attitude! Brilliant!

    @Amy – Ohmygawd that’s a lot of hard there! And I’m sorry about all of it. It seems like way more suck than one person should have to deal with.

    Your point about the suck trying to help? Right on. So so so right on. Sometimes there can be really helpful stuff wrapped up in the suck.

    And, for me, I can get to those nuggets when I step back a little and stop the ack-inducing poking.

    @Linnea – You are the sweetness. Thank you. And can I belt out a big booyah! for tossing out the Giant Suck-Poking Stick? Because that is awesome! Go you!

    @Crystal – First, I have to say that I love the idea of anti-suck soul-balm. Can someone please make that and send me a case of it? Because, really, wow.

    And the thing about people not acknowledging the suck? Or telling you to just deal with it?

    So. Effing. Hard.

    And you’re totally right. Sometimes the la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you thing is a really effective way of temporarily dealing with things.

    It’s another way of getting space. You gave a great example of how that works. You got some space and then made the decision about what to do about the suck. So BIG yays!

    I also think what you said about how you’re dealing with suck now, after the hurt-ey stuff that’s happened, sounds really smart to me.

    Because trusting yourself to deal with suck – to know when it’s happening and to resolve it – is so important. It feels like a foundation-ey kind of thing. And when I was reading what you wrote, I had this image of you rebuilding your foundation.

    I’m sorry about the stuff that led up to this. And I’m seriously cheering you on with the rebuilding. That’s huge.

    @James – Sweet! I’m glad this helped to make the give-it-space thing more tangible. It always felt a little abstract to me too. I got it in theory, but the putting-it-into-practice part was fuzzy. And extra yays for other suck-handling strategies showing up!

    @Joan – I totally agree about the goodness + smartness that everyone has left in the comments. It has awesomized the discussion in so many ways.

    Thanks for the examples you gave too. Being able to be clear inside ourselves is so important. Knowing that we can trust what we see and hear and feel and sense. Critical stuff.

    @Noura – Sorry about the recent suck. I’m glad it’s working itself out.

    I know what you mean about the poking-around-and-bringing-it-all-up-again thing. That’s happened for me too.

    Sometimes, for me, giving suck space means just letting it go. Like you said – release it and move on.

    I think it’s important to work with stuff and resolve it. Totally. But sometimes my mind likes to chew on things way past the point of being helpful.

    That’s when just letting it go makes a ton of sense.

    @Chris – I will be thinking about that SNL skit the next time I get tangled in suck. No screwdrivers in the ear! *snorts*

  15. Sinclair
    July 30, 2010 | 8:16 pm

    YES – “I give myself the space I need so that I can come back to it in a way that doesn’t add to the ack. Plus then I can deal with the suck on purpose. Instead of just knee-jerking my way through it.”

    We need more of this in the world. Thanks dude, you’re such a gift. A very wise, melodic gift. (With good layered beats.)

  16. Ian Tomlinson
    August 2, 2010 | 5:47 am

    Sucking is ok with me (er – sounds rude!). I like your approach to dealing with the negative feelings and I wrote a blog post about distancing yourself from your thoughts on my therapy site that suggests very similar methods (called Anxiety: How to separate yourself from your thoughts if anyone wants to read). I guess for me I allow myself to be average too – perfection all the time sounds far too exhausting!!
    .-= Ian Tomlinson´s last blog ..Relationship advice – what to expect from relationship counselling =-.

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