Monthly Archives: June 2014
Some days it really does seem like the world is conspiring against us. All things – sometimes small, sometimes big, sometimes both – have decided to work together to see if we really can reach that breaking point. So, since today started off on a less than pleasing note for me and continued in that pattern, I decided to start reminding myself of what I needed to be doing instead of what I was doing. And then I decided to share it. I really hate when my Monday’s are so Monday. But when we find ourselves stuck that mode, it’s important to stop, breathe, and re-frame.
We stop when we realize that we are irritated. It’s not good to be irritated. Irritation is an indication that something is wrong, so we stop, we pause and give ourselves a second to process the situation.
We breathe because breathing is good for the body and the mind. We need oxygen. Irritation messes up all of our processes and gets us out of order, so we breathe and it helps us to return it to order.
Then we re-frame. And my re-framing went something like this today:
-“Seriously!? No one else can pick up the bath mat off the ground? I’m the only one?” Stop. Breathe. “I am thankful I have hands that work and the capability to pick up the bath mat on my own… And it’s okay for me to feel others around me capable of this too, because I’m thankful they have the health and control to do this also.”
-“It’s so frustrating that no one considers me when they are doing what they are doing.” Stop. Breathe. “Sometimes I don’t consider others, even though I don’t consciously mean to forget to. I’m not perfect, nor should I expect everyone else to be. But I am thankful I have people around me who can help me when I truly need it, and who trust me enough to help them when they need it.”
-“Did you really just spill the glass I told you not to carry in there because it was going to spill?” Stop. Breathe. “I am honestly beyond thankful that I have a child/nieces/nephews who are healthy and who can help clean up after themselves and who are learning how to do things on their own with the desire to be independent and capable.”
-“Why aren’t the things happening right now that I want and need to happen? And why don’t I know how to make them happen? What am I doing wrong?” Stop. Breathe. This one is trickier. Because for this one I have to re-frame personal things, like “am I inadequate? Am I confused? Am I doing every single thing wrong? Do none of the good things I do count for anything?” Stop again. Breathe again. “I cannot force things to happen, but I can be content for this moment to be thankful for where I am, that I know who I am, and that I have the desire to go and do more. And at some point this moment will just be a memory. And right now I am capable. The good things I do count. I am worthy.”
The path of the day may not magically change (although, you never know, it might.). But even those small moments where we make the choice to be conscious of how we take in and respond to what is happening around us make a difference. And tonight I will go to bed with the knowledge that I really probably am super awesome, after all, look how good I did fighting the negative ALL.DAY.LONG. Now, hopefully tomorrow I won’t have to fight it so hard!
(Also, if you want to know how to use your worth you help you live the life you want to lead you should read this book. It’s quick, and easy, and life-changing, and funny, and awesome. 🙂 Was that too much?? That’s okay, it’s all true. And you are worth taking the time to learn how to become who you want to become.)
We are motivated when the cost of achieving those things we want to achieve outweighs the cost of staying where we are and continuing on. Most of us stay where we are because it’s easy. It costs us nothing new to stay in the same position. It may be costing us something we don’t like, whether it’s happiness, sanity, or even physical things like money, but if we are staying the same what we are saying is we are comfortable with the cost. Change requires something different. We have to take on a new cost. We have to venture into the unknown, which is a cost. It’s scary. It’s even scarier deciding that we are going to become who/what we want to become knowing that there is a chance of failure. The fear of failure is what often outweighs the cost of staying the same. Although, sometimes it is the fear of success that does it. We feel like we want a change, but if we are truly willing to go through with it then we are admitting to ourselves that we are worth it. We are worthy of the success. We feel like we truly, honestly deserve it. And then we name the things we did yesterday that weren’t perfect. We go back to the times we made the wrong choices. We think about the issues we had and continue to have, and all in an effort to remind ourselves that we really aren’t as deserving and worthy as we wish we were. So we stop ourselves. We stay put. We want to be brave, but we’re not sure we should be. We want to try, but we don’t know if we should succeed or why we should succeed. We compare ourselves to everyone, whether we know them or not. And we remind ourselves that this is why we are staying where we are.
This is the circle. Or really the cycle. We get it in, and we don’t know how to get out. We are right there at the edge, waiting for the cycle to change. We want it. We are pretty sure we do at least. We know we don’t want things to stay the same. So the issue becomes figuring out how to break the cycle. And the answer is simple, but hard – it boils down to choice. To making a choice to change, and to continuing to make the choice to stay out of the cycle. And that’s hard. Habits form deep ruts. Our neurons know how to operate. Their grooves are ready and well-worn, so jumping outside of them and going off-road is not an easy task. Our brains have a whole lot of work that they do each day. They have to perform efficiently. They fight change because they have to do more work now. They have to rewire the way our neurons think, the patterns they move in. They are designed to know what we are going to do next, how we are going to feel next. So when we change that, they’re not sure what to do, but they know it’s way more efficient to go back to the old way and that’s what they try to do. It calls us back. We have to consciously choose not to let it. We have to consciously say, “I know these issues are here. I know they exist. I know why my brain is fighting me on this right now, but I’m going to choose to stay on course,” because staying on course, continuing to make the different decisions is the only way to create a new groove. It’s the only way to provide staying power. Constantly, consistently make the choice. That is how change occurs.
So if we go back to what we have written out now from Day 1 and Day 2, we know who we are and where we are right now and we know who we want to be and where we want to be. So we have to make a map to get from right now to where we are planning to go. We always go one step at a time, so we would work on our top priority first and move down the list from there. Often times starting one change becomes a catalyst for the others. The rules are to keep it simple and keep it focused.
The example I’m going to use is one of the ways I started to change my thinking. I touched on it a bit yesterday I believe. I was always pretty pessimistic and negative. When I was beginning my final semester of my undergraduate coursework I read a book (The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz – highly recommend it to everyone, seriously read it.) and in it one of the agreements is to Be Impeccable with Your Word. Part of this meant only saying things that were of value and true and that would pertain to growing and encouraging myself and others. During this point in time I started to notice how quick I was to judge others. I judged outfits, cars, imperfect speech, imperfect writing, anything I could notice to be negative about I was there. I began making a conscious effort then to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts. So when I would find myself thinking, “ewe look at those shoes,” I began stopping myself to disrupt the thought pattern and replacing it with something positive. It might have been, “we are all allowed to dress however we want to,” or “that is a person who I’ve never met and what they wear is not of consequence to me and I don’t need to judge it” or “I hope she has a good meal and that the rest of her evening goes well.” The last example became the one most frequently used as time went on. Initially it was hard. And it felt a bit daunting realizing just how much of my time I spent being negative. It was easy to try to say, “I must be a terrible person.” But that wasn’t helpful either, nor was it true. I was simply a human who had to work on retraining her way of thinking, and that was and still remains okay. But my way of thinking really did start to change. I became less negative and less judgmental. I focused more on encouragement and found myself a whole lot happier overall because of it.
The thing about being motivated to change our lives and take the steps we somewhere inside know we want to take is that we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves. We have to respect who we are enough and value who we are enough to say that this is who I am, this is who I want to be and I am willing to try to fulfill it. That first step is hard, self-worth is essential… and the journey is usually a lot longer than we hoped it would be. We have to be open to the fact that we are human. At some point things are going to get hard, people we hoped would help us won’t, things will probably get confusing and we will probably question why we made the choice in the first place and it is here that we have to go back to our map and remember where we really want to be and that there is a way to get there as long as we keep trying.
**** I know these were long and I apologize. It was hard to condense them, but it’s an issue people ask about a lot. The answer isn’t short, so thanks for reading them and I hope they helped. 🙂 and if you want a longer answer, you can look here…
Day 2: (Day 1 is here if you missed it) Now that we have had the chance to look at ourselves in an honest and open format, it’s important to understand also, why we are where we are. In reality, we are usually where we are because we choose to be there. We made the choices on our path, and this is what they equaled out to. There are certain issues that cause us to move in certain directions, and there are things in life that are not within our control, but for the most part we are the guiding force in where we go and what we do each day.
We now have to begin to understand why we make the choices we make that lead us to where we are. We all have inherent predispositions that we are born with. Some of us are more likely to be shy and some more likely to be outgoing. Some of us are more likely to be tall, some short. Some of us are going to be more likely to be athletic. Some writers, some business-oriented, some introspective, some narcissistic (if you’re reading this, you’re probably not really.). Some of us have the capacity to be born understanding that we are worthy. We know that we are with a life that is going to be worth living. We have something to contribute. We can share that which we have, and we can make things better for those around us. We are worthy of the good things life has to offer inherently.
That last sentence is true for all of us. We are worthy. But for a good many of us (myself certainly included) this concept is not something we carry with us throughout our lifetime. We instead struggle with worth. And this may be things that appear small in nature. We have a bit of a tendency to be negative; when we are trying to make small talk our jokes tend be more like a slight (not necessarily intentional) than a joke, and we look for reasons things probably won’t work out. We have a tendency to be scared of change. To be scared or unwilling to go after our dreams, the things we really want. We might not even know what those things are because we are so certain they won’t happen, what’s the point in letting them in. We thought about them years ago, but life has happened since then. We know exactly why no one understands us. We aren’t sure anyone ever will. We settle. We let go. We give in. We can see those who clearly should be succeeding and pretend we certainly can’t ever be them, because we don’t have whatever manufactured attributes they do. We feel like we might deserve good things, but can think of 100 things we could have done differently that would probably make us much more deserving, so it’s probably right that we don’t have the things we want. Or that life isn’t the way we really wish it would be. We self-sabotage. We keep ourselves down.
All of these things are born out of fear. Fear tells us we aren’t worthy. And it happily lists all the reasons why. And when a person is inclined towards fear, it becomes really difficult to outmaneuver it. It guides our steps, gives us stress, and throws in some confusion just to make it that much harder to even think that things can stop. We don’t know how to think that life can be different, because fear tells us it can’t. And the only way to move out of fear is to realize that we are worthy. That I, the person sitting here staring at this screen, am someone who has worth. Not just a little bit. Not fleeting worth. But permanent lasting worth that does not go away, and it is up to me to recognize it and utilize it. No one can do it for me. Even if I don’t see it, it is there.
As we look at ourselves today our exercise is this: As we talk again to our friend, the goal to write out where we are and why we are here. We want to uncover what drives our decision making. Are we making our choices out of fear or out of hope and love. So we again make our lists:
Things I want to keep about where I am: the place I live, my family, my relationship status, my career, my plans for the future…etc. Again anything at all you want to keep about where you are in your life.
Things I want to change about where I am: the place I live, my family, my relationship status, my career, my plans…etc. Anything you want to change, and prioritize them.
Then we go through any specifics we have about the changes we want to make:
I want to move from a to b. I want to change my career from employee to assistant manager, or from business to dance. I want to go from this terrible relationship to being single and being okay being alone.
And then as we did yesterday, we have a positive foundation for where we are at this moment, we have things we want to change and what we want to change them into, and we have the understanding that we are capable and worthy of making these changes.
(For a more in depth look at the way self-worth, impacts our every day lives, it’s covered in my book )
I’ve had a lot of questions lately about getting started. People who are interested in understanding how to change their current circumstance in some way or another, or in most ways altogether. So I decided it might be a good idea to try to help by plotting out some initial groundwork, and well, since I have a blog, I decided to share it here. But since it will be long, I decided to break it up (It’s probably still long – apologies – it should be helpful though.)
Day 1: To begin I always feel like it’s basically impossible to change anything we want if we haven’t had the chance to really evaluate some important things. The first two are: who we are and where we are – right here, right now. And these two can give us a foundation to work towards who we want to be and where we want to be. And one of the most important keys that influences all of these factors is self-worth. Obviously, I believe in understanding self-worth – I studied it while I was in graduate school (and beyond) and I wrote a book about it. And as we travel through these evaluations, it’s important to remember just how much of a navigational pull self-worth really has, so we will naturally begin uncovering our own individual feelings of self-worth and learning how to use our worth as a tool for success in our journey.
A while back there were some studies done that showed that there was a difference in levels of honesty between subjects who were sitting in a room writing about themselves where one room had a mirror sitting beside the table and the other simply a blank wall. When we are actually forced to stop and look and face ourselves, it’s different than the rest of the time when we can coast through largely ignoring things and knowing that we are planning on fixing whatever may need to be fixed “soon.” Part of this is helpful, we can’t function in panic-mode all the time, it’s not efficient. We have to compromise at certain points in time, it’s simply the way of life. But when we get lost and going along down the same road is no longer a viable option, we have to take the time to find out what is.
We start by looking at who we are. What we know to be true about ourselves where we are right now, in the moment. I was doing this exercise (that I will share next) a short while back sort of explaining it to someone, and I began talking about myself and I described a part of my past as “pathetic,” but I gave it a present-tense verb. I said, “I know, I’m pathetic.” And suddenly I realized that a part of me actually currently felt that way. It wasn’t a mistake. Maybe a Freudian slip, I suppose. And it was an issue I honestly had believe I had worked through all the way. And I started to panic a little, almost on the verge of tears, because I didn’t know what this meant. It had been a while since I had really sat down to look at where I was at and how I was coming along on my goals. I had started simply coasting, because I knew things were mostly going how I wanted them to go. The parts that weren’t technically had an easy fix, that I would “soon” engage in, but I thought I was good. Better than ever. So when I had this moment, I didn’t know how to handle it, and I had to take the time and look back into myself and see who I was, right there, right then to me.
The exercise is this: Describe who you are in writing as if in a conversation with someone who could be (or is) your best friend. This is someone you could tell all of your truths to, no judgment, only understanding.
The goal in this exercise is to uncover in a conversational manner how we feel about who we are right here, right now. So we write it out on paper, (or simply have the conversation in our minds if we don’t want to write it out right now, for whatever reason) and we have a starting point to gather who we are.
From this conversation we write down things we want to keep and (Separately) the things we want to change in order of priority. We want to begin to see who we are right now with a positive starting point and try to understand where we need to go to be closer to who we want to be. And we want to write down what we want to change those things we are displeased with into – what do we want the things we don’t like to become. And with this we have a positive foundation, a gauge of what we need to change and a sight for what we want to change into.
Examples would be:
1. Things I want to keep: Empathy, desire/motivation to change, organizational habits, messiness, ability to love, workout habits, relationship skills, faith, competitive, happiness, etc…. the list can truly be anything you want to keep about you.
2. Things I want to change: Negativity, judgment, lack of motivation, messiness, workout habits, faith, won’t let anyone in, (un)competitive, unhappiness, etc….again, the any of the things you want to change.
3. What I want these things to change into: Negativity to positive attitude, build others up instead of discouraging them and/or judging them, from boredom to looking for ways to help out, from messy to organized, etc.
We are looking at helping ourselves to transform from who we are into who we truly want to be. It’s important to be honest, to be in depth, and to be willing to be open to the journey. All journeys take time, but to go on one we must be willing to step on board. Keep what you write or work really hard to remember what you created in your head. We’ll use them again, as this is our starting point.