When you are making decisions about what your future should look like, do you look to your past for guidance? If you do, you might be suffering from one of the many perils of having a human brain.
What we need to remember is that the brain’s primary job is to keep us alive. And while that does spawn some feelings of gratitude, the brain, when left unattended will get oh so carried away with this job.
And as you may have noticed, the brain’s primary source of control is FEAR. And in order to overcome this overly protective parent, we must be aware enough to see what is happening.
Stepping into a life of true forward progress is like flying with just carry-on. There is only room for meticulously chosen items that are useful, pertinent and adaptable (oh and no liquid, gels or aerosols).
Are you the product of strict parents?
One of the down sides of authoritative parenting is that kids learn to be pleasers.
Especially the girls.
We come to learn at an early age just what it is we must say and do to avoid the rath and gain the praise. We learn how to play the game. And it often leads to becoming a person who puts far too much emphasis on the opinions of others.
We create a false belief that we can control and are even responsible for how another person feels.
And in doing so, we create our own personal jail cell, always worried about how people are perceiving our actions and our words. Always in search of the ‘right way’, not saying what we want, over-editing, obsessing, walking on eggshells.
Can you relate?
It is exhausting.
And futile because at the end of the day, the other humans are going to say, do and think whatever they want. Regardless of us.
I was a guest on a podcast the other day where we were talking about aging.
I recently turned 60 (!!) and I do believe it has been one of the best birthdays I have ever had. I feel as though I have somehow arrived, and while I once saw the number 60 as unnerving, it actually feels pretty darn good. And I wonder what I was once so worried about.
A read a statistic that people these days are on average living around 10 years longer than their grandparents. People are not only living longer but the quality of their lives have improved as well. We are having to re-do and re-think the entire process of aging and what is abundantly clear is that there is no predictable way to do it.
Yet there is a lag time between people’s attitudes and expectations towards an older generation and the reality of what it now looks like.
Happy Mother’s Day!
OK moms…what is the gift you are going to give to YOURSELF today?
You know – that special thing that doesn’t require action on the part of any of the other humans in your life?
How about you begin with the gift of self-compassion? Make a vow on this special day to love and treat yourself in the same way you love your best friend or your sister or some other amazing woman in your life.
From there you could throw in the gift of forgiveness.
Mother’s Day might be the perfect time to forgive someone in your life for something you are still holding on to in your past. Heck – maybe you can start with your own mother. PS – my mom has been gone for years and I still do this on the regular. Realizing that the other humans are imperfect and flawed allows us to see and forgive ourselves for the same thing.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
The other gift I love giving myself is the gift of a pause.
I believe strongly in the value of a great book. Fiction to not only entertain us but to make us more empathetic, and non-fiction to challenge us and open our minds.
I recently finished Adam Grant’s latest book, Think Again, and I highly recommend it.
I have always been a fan of Adam Grant (great podcast), and this is my favorite of his books.
I doubt that there are any of us over the last while who have not found themselves at the proverbial crossroads. Where we have had a chance to look at our lives and our beliefs and have either opened to other options or have doubled down on where we stood.
In Think Again, Grant offers that the ability to re-think our beliefs is the dynamic component to intelligence that is often overlooked. That we regularly see conflicting ideas as threats, as opposed to an opportunity for growth.
How do you know if you are operating in victim mode?
We call it emotional childhood when we see it played out in the world of our offspring. Their interpretation is often that things happen TO them and that they have no control.
Why does this always happen to me? This isn’t fair! It’s not my fault! I don’t deserve this! Imagine those words coming out of the mouth of a 12-year-old in a whiny voice and you can imagine the scenario where it might happen.
Problem is, we often drag this line of thinking into adulthood.
As a coach, I have worked with many clients who have been unaware of their victimized behavior and it’s consequences. I have also witnessed it on a very personal level as a matter of fact. I think we all have.
I am the first to admit that there are times where nothing feels better than a little pity party. And there are times when it’s ok to allow yourself time to indulge in a little woe-is-me thinking.
Are you doing it right?
It is a question that runs in the background of our thinking almost constantly. I am not exactly sure how it got injected it into my processing systems, but I do know It is there on auto-play, 24-7.
When I got married, I wanted to speak at the reception. One of the first jokes I tried to crack was one about how ‘they told me that brides were not supposed to speak at the wedding reception. And that I wanted to know who ‘they’ were because I had a few questions.’
But think about it.
Of course, we want to do it right, whether we are talking about the things we do so we can feel like a good parent, or a good partner, a good boss or a good human even. But who sets the rules? And can I please get a copy of the rulebook?
Many look to spiritual texts as their foundation, but there are a lot of unanswered questions that inevitably come up.
One of the things I tried to help people understand during my years as a massage therapist is what it meant to have a chronically tight muscle. I felt it was pertinent to understand that while the brain could send the signal to flex or tighten, there wasn’t a signal to relax or release. For the muscle fiber, a neutral state came from the absence of a signal to contract. Kind of like turning a light switch on and off.
The problem many of us experience with our physical body is that after time, that overused muscle won’t return to its original length on its own. It’s new resting state is not fully relaxed but slightly contracted. And since your body is all about circulation, envision the muscle fiber as a screen where the size of the holes are
reduced. It becomes more dense, less porous, and less flexible.
In my years as a coach, I have come to see the similarities when we compare our emotional and physical states.
What does the idea of having a good relationship with yourself mean to you?
Do you see it as one of those self-help, woo woo concepts that exists for people who have nothing better to think about?
That would have been me at one time in my life. I had a nose to the grindstone personality that didn’t have a lot of room for all that self-indulgent stuff on the periphery of my life. I was busy, darn it.
I have a memory stashed in the vast caverns of my brain of a discussion about how to take a compliment. It stuck with me because it became clear this was something I was definitely not good at. Compliments have historically triggered reflex thoughts like… This person wants something. They clearly don’t know me. That sounded so fake. They are just saying that so I can then compliment them. This person is trying to blow smoke up my (you-know-where).
All negative. And all indicative of a poor relationship with myself.
Are you open to life? Perhaps it is a question you haven’t asked for awhile.
Do you willingly embrace whatever comes your way or do you wake up in the morning anxiously braced for a storm?
While every day presents a different challenge, the benefits of striving towards being open to the possibility of goodness are countless.
I have a deep-seated belief that the universe has my back. But I also recognize, in that particular belief, the age-old question of – what came first, the chicken or the egg?
Do we attain an attitude of being cared for because of our experience of ‘good times’ or it is our attitude that attracts the positive?
Which begs another question – does it matter?
What harm can come from a belief in goodness? It is not a passive belief, and I do not suggest sitting on the sofa trying to manifest good things by just thinking about them.