What are the life skills you practice when no one is watching?
A strange question perhaps, but we all know that if you want to get better at something, you need to practice, right?
Look at the basketball players that shoot 500 free throws each day or the hours a baseball player might spend in a batting cage.
But what if you wanted to get better at general life skills. Skills like the ability to respond as opposed to react.
Let’s pretend you deal with anger as a regular emotion. Let’s also assume you would like to learn how to not get triggered. You could force yourself to spend time with someone who pisses you off and see how long you last without exploding… but I wouldn’t suggest it.
So how do you do it?
One way I practice is through meditation. Stay with me….
I have meditated daily for over 7 years, but my goals have never been about reaching nirvana. Or being able to sit for hours at a time.
What would your life be like if you actually did all the things you ‘planned on’ or ‘wanted’ to do?
Perhaps you have lofty thoughts like, “Someday I would like to clean out the garage” or “I’ve always wanted to get more proficient with Excel” or “I know I would feel better I could just stretch more”.
Or more pressing things like, “I keep forgetting to make an appointment with my doctor” or “the check engine light has been on in my car for weeks now” or “I have a presentation at work next month and I have nothing prepped yet”.
And we think – maybe this weekend I will find time to do (fill in the blank). Except the weekend comes and goes, and (as per usual) your closet still looks the same.
It’s not that we are lazy. So often it is because other things come up that feel as though you should do them right away. They feel urgent in the moment and since you don’t really have anything else specifically planned for that time, you dive in.
An early New Year’s blog!
So many of us are in a state of pure excitement for the arrival of 2021. And we should be, right?!
2020 has certainly been one of the most challenging years for us collectively as a civilization.
But hey – we all know that nothing in our physical world will change as the calendar page flips. The pandemic is not going to go away overnight and a lot of 2021 will look a lot like the previous year. But we now can see the light at the end of the tunnel. At least it looks like a light.
My question is – what do you want to bring forward with you into 2021?
2020 wasn’t all bad.
What have been your highlights? Look back over your 2020 and find the moments of inspiration.
You could go back through your calendar.
You could go back through your phone and find the pictures that remind you of those moments.
Did you survive?
Are you breathing again?
This election season seems to have been so much more frenetic than any other time I have experienced. And it makes me curious.
If you have ever read my blog before you might know I am not one to spin the wheel of blame. I am all about taking responsibility for our emotions, so I am hesitant to think the craziness is the election’s fault. Or Trump’s. Or Biden’s. Or the Republicans. Or the Democrats.
Many would say it’s because this is the most important election in history. But it wouldn’t be the first time we were told that.
The media has ramped everything up and we have been subject to an unprecedented barrage of one-upmanship. When they are done telling you what’s going on, they fill the time with speculation on things that might happen or things we could see or may well experience in the hopes of holding your attention.
We are taunted with the possibility of new breaking developments.
Ever had a time when you procrastinated and were happy you did?
Yeah, me neither.
Procrastination is intentionally delaying a task we know we must do. And we do it, even when the delay comes with a cost. So why?
I once thought it was because I lacked discipline. Or maybe because I lacked inspiration. I’m not a slacker…or am I?
What I know for sure is it’s not a character flaw. It is not impossible to overcome. And everyone deals with it.
We don’t procrastinate to avoid work; we do it to avoid our feelings.
When we come up against a task that requires effort or one that we don’t think we are going to enjoy, the brain irrupts in all the fear-based bs thoughts to distract us. (sadly it is programmed to do this and we all experience it!)
Thoughts of doubt, lack of competence, inadequacy, fear of failure….
Beliefs are not good or bad, right or wrong – they are just something we all have. Kind of like a face.
You may not agree with the beliefs of others, but it doesn’t make the other person wrong. It just makes them different. And different is what our world is made of.
One subset of our beliefs is often handed down generationally. As parents, we strive to teach our kids what we think of as foundational concepts that will equip them to live a good life. And there is a good chance that at least some of those concepts were passed down from our parents.
There are also the beliefs that have evolved because of our experiences. In many cases, this subset is the opposite of what we were taught by our parents. But chances are we have been influenced by another person of authority or an event(s) of significance.
I like to live in a world where people get to believe what they want to believe.
My mom wrote in a journal every single night. I’m not sure when she first began, but I’m going to say for probably more than 64 of the 94 years of her life. Sometimes it seemed like a few quick notes, but I know she did it every night. It was part of her evening routine, and it was as important and regular to her as brushing her teeth.
I’m not sure if there is a gene for that (or a Jeanne) but if there is, I didn’t get her desire to journal OR her green thumb, sadly. I often thought I would journal, or maybe I should journal, but I was way too neutral on the subject to ever become motivated enough to actually do it.
Until one day, when I was coaching a client on creating habits. She had mentioned many times that she wanted to start reading regularly so I challenged her to create a framework for making it happen. And I told her I would do it with her because hey, I always wanted to start journaling.
The words we use on a consistent basis can have a dramatic effect on the quality of our lives. Our words, our syntax and the questions we lead with are often habitual. We all have our go-to emotions and reactions and say things like – that’s just how I am.
Except it’s not.
That’s just how you have conditioned yourself to be. While you have likely been influenced heavily by those around you, you are the author. You created your emotional home and the words you habitually use will take you there.
One of my clients, when describing how she felt at work told me “it’s as if I have a target on my back”.
How would that thought make you feel? Anxious? Stressed? Nervous?
How do you act when you feel anxious or stressed? What do you do? How would it effect the work you did? We all are different, but you might not be as thorough, or it might make you defensive or reactive.
Are you willing to be wrong?
I would guess most of us might have some push back with the idea.
Life seems simpler to understand when we have a clearly defined right and wrong or good and bad. It allows us to have filters so we can quickly make sense of things.
But what happens when we pull those filers out of the depths of our brains and examine them?
This weekend (just for fun lol) I identified a few beliefs I had looping somewhere in the back of my brain.
One was something I knew I was not good at.
One was an observation I had made about myself as a parent.
One was a description of who I was as a person.
For years I had seen them as facts. Observations. But not one of them served me or made my life any better – quite the opposite.
I examined what those beliefs had cost me in the past. I saw how they were currently playing out in my day to day.
Setting big goals is not something I was ever good at. I had goals, don’t get me wrong, but I am talking BIG goals. Big goals were scary. It meant committing to something. And then all the self-help books said if you were serious about your goal, you had to tell people about it.
I still sometimes find myself setting goals based on what I believe I can accomplish. But that’s not a big goal – that’s just an acknowledgement of the work I planned on doing anyway.
Big goals are ones where we have no idea how we will do it. They are a leap of faith. And so many of us are reluctant.
But why? If we set a big goal for the next 12 months and don’t hit it, what happens? Will the ground break open and suck us in? Will we be sentenced to 6 months in solitary? Will we have to walk around for a month with a neon sign saying LOOSER on it?
Not likely. Not unless we choose to punish ourselves.