Stress Vs Pressure
Stress is something we all have, it's not going away, it's a sign we are alive. The question is in how you handle it. Pressure, on the other hand, is what we tell ourselves about the stress in our lives. It's a self-induced, inside job.
Have To Vs Get To
To understand what I am getting at here, just pay attention to how many times a day you catch yourself thinking or saying "I have to.........". If you are like most folks, you'll notice you say this more often than you realized. Have to implies resistance, obligation, drudgery, etc. It's simply a motivation reducer. Get to, on the other hand, brings with it excitement, desire, and perhaps even fun.
Privilege Vs Burden
I think it's human nature to turn some of our privileges into burdens. When we see events or tasks in our life as burdens, we get weighed down. Another sign of the burden view is feeling worn out and overwhelmed, all the time. When we view events and tasks in our life as privileges, we bring a much stronger attitude to our daily lives. When you view something you are doing as a privilege, you can then approach them with a sense of honor. That's a motivator.
Passion vs Dread
Think of a time you dreaded doing something? It's not a lot of fun, is it?. Now think about a time you were really passionate about doing something. Maybe even just excited about getting it done. Which did you like better?
Stress Vs Pressure
One of the dumbest things I have ever done is grab a hot iron by the bottom.
We were rushing out of the house for a trip a few years back. The last time I had used it was hours ago that morning, and had left it on the ironing bourd in the bed room. I didn't know Lauren had used it just a moment before.
I've never dropped anything so fast before or since!
Most of you are probably a whole lot smarter than me and have never picked up a hot iron. At the same time, I bet everyone has had the experience of picking up something hot, getting burned, and dropping it right away.
Would it make any sense to keep holding something hot like that? Of course not.
That's why we drop them so quickly.
Then why do we hold on so tightly to hot emotional issues and allow them to keep burning us?
Yet we do it all the time. Something inconvenient, bad, or even traumatic occurs, and we hold on to it for dear life. I've worked with people who had experienced trauma and were doing fairly well not too long after. I've also worked with people who had experienced trauma years and years ago, yet it seemed as if it had just happened.
How to Hold On
Holding on to something that is burning us requires a lot of conscious attention, just like flunking gym class in school. Here's a few "tips" for holding on:
*Play the situation or offense over and over in your mind. Be sure to make a little "mental movie" for your own viewing pleasure.
*Make sure it's the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think of at night.
*Tell everyone who will give you an ear the whole entire story, in play by play detail.
*Make it the defining moment in your life.
*Isolate yourself from other people
*Rant and rave about the injustice and unfairness of it all.
*Look at yourself as a victim.
How to Drop It
Just as holding on to something requires conscious attention, dropping something requires a conscious decision. Here's a few tips for dropping it:
*as stated above, decide to. You must decide to do it before any ot the other tips will work.
*take away from it what you can learn, leave behind anything else.
*find a symbol of the event and burn it, bury it, or both. I know this might sound a little silly, but it works.
*remember the saying "Success comes from good judgement. Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."
*and perhaps the most important: make a place for it in your life, because it did happen. And then put it in it's place, which is behind you.
Hold on and get burned or drop it and move on. It's a choice.
And it's yours to make.
File this one under the category of "watch your language."
The language we use when we are trying to change something simply amazes me. We say things like I can't - it's not fair - I'll never be able to do this - etc. And then we wonder why we are frustrated and don't feel so good.
One of the most limiting things we say to ourselves is "I have to." Our brains hear I have to and tend to automatically rebel.
Perhaps it's a holdover from childhood.
A much more useful way to talk to ourselves is to change our "I have to" into "I get to."
You might say that this is just semantics. I would answer by saying it's almost all semantics.
Here's why - "I have to" usually leads to little motivation, avoidance, and grudging obligation. On the other hand, "I get to" often leads to motivation, excitement and opportunity.
So let's practice turning your I have to's into I get to's.
I have to take out the trash. I get to contribute to and serve my family.
I have to get up in the morning. I get to spend another day above ground and see what I can make of it.
I have to go to work. I get to go do something I love and provide for my family.
I have to go to class. I get to have the privilege of getting an education.
I have to pick up my kids from practice. I get to spend time with my children. In the car, which is a captive audience where we don't have the pressure of just staring at each other. Maybe we will be able to talk.
I have to finish this project for the office. I get to contribute to something I believe in.
I have to go to the gym. I get to take care of my body and maybe even have some fun.
I have to finish this column and get it in on time. I get to have the privilege of helping (hopefully) more people.
These are just a few examples. Simply fill in the blanks with the ones from your own life which will be most helpful to you.
I invite you to practice watching your language this next week I think you will be surprised how often you use the phrase "I have to."
Have to vs get to is your choice.
A wise friend once said that holding onto resentments is like trying to crush a sandspur between your fingers. You might eventually do it, but it sure is going to hurt you in the process.
Life tip: Forgive. Release yourself from the pain and focus on the future.
"I'll do it later" has to be the biggest con job we can run on ourselves. Procrastination fosters the belief in "someday," which never comes because it just isn't on the calendar.
Life tip: The next time you are tempted to procrastinate, simply put it off. Procrastinate about procrastinating. Do it now, procrastinate later.
While excuses hold us back from doing the things we know we need to do, rationalizations sear our conscious to allow us to do the things we know we should not do.
Life tip: Another way to spell the word rationalize is "rational lies." Tell yourself the truth. There is no good rationalization for doing something you know is wrong.
The desire to get things done quickly can be a good thing. But when expediency takes the place of effectiveness, watch out. This happens often with parents and kids. Sure we could do it quicker and better, but what are they learning?
Life tip: Don't sacrifice effectiveness for expediency. Slow down enough to do a job well or to show someone else how to do a job well.
If onlys come wrapped in the package of regrets. I've worked with people whose entire lives were wrapped around one or two if onlys, as if focusing on if onlys could change anything.
Life tip: Take one good long hard last look at all of your if onlys. Lift out what you can learn from them to use in your future, the rest of your life. Then, taking these learnings with you, turn around and head into your future.
On a beautiful summer day years ago, I went water skiing with some new friends. I hadn't skied in a while, and as I floated in the water with long pieces of wood strapped to my feet, here's what I remember thinking:
"I wonder if I remember how to do this." "Will I be able to get up?" "How soon will I crash?"
The rope tightened and I got up like I'd been doing this for years, began to ski and sure enough, the next thing I knew - crash - face full of lake.
Here comes the point of the story - As I floated in the water, waiting for the boat and the rope to come back around, I realized that the only reason I had crashed was because I had expected to crash.
The Power of Expectancy
The power of expectancy shapes our lives. I've found that most of us have either a negative expectancy (things won't work out) or a positive expectancy (things usually work out). There doesn't seem to be a middle ground.
Expectancy controls what we focus on, and what we focus on usually comes about.
I call people that always focus on the negative "Eeyores." For those of you who do not have kids or don't remember the story, Eeyore is a donkey in the Winnie the Pooh story that mopes around, head hung to the ground, moaning and groaning about life.
"It's just too good to be true"
"I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop" There are times when we are so sure that the other shoe is going to drop that we throw it down ourselves.
"If something bad can happen, it will, and it will happen to me."
The outcome of "eeyore expectancy" is usually fairly lousy. Even if good stuff does happen, it's easy to miss with your eyes dragging the ground. You get what you focus on.
Here's what positive expectancy is not:
burying your head in the sand and saying "everything will be all right."
a glorified form of denial
a new term for "positive thinking"
I don't believe in "positive thinking", at least not in the way it's commonly portrayed. Example: while it's pouring rain, walking through the rain saying "It's not raining, it's not raining, it's not raining," will get you soaked!
Positive expectancy IS an attitude. It's an attitude that goes something like, "whatever happens, not only will we figure out a way to handle it, we'll also find a way to make it work for us."
We all have them. It amazes me how creative I can be when I need a good excuse for something. In life we either have success, or we have excuses.
Life tip: For one week, pay attention to how often you create excuses for yourself. You'll be surprised by how many excuses you make and how often you make them. Then start to refute them. Ask your self "is this really true, or is it just convenient for me to believe?"
Richard Bach offers us this great piece of wisdom about limitations - "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours."
Other than gravity, mortality and a few others, most of our limitations are self-imposed. Now why would we want to do that?
Life tip: Whenever you notice that you are imposing a limitation on yourself, ask "what would I be able to do without this limitation?" Then start heading in that direction.
If you believe you can't, then you can't. If you believe you can, you just might make it.
Life tip: Don't focus on what you can't do; focus on what you can.
Our culture has taught us that we deserve all good things just by showing up. That's just not the real world. We are promised only the pursuit of happiness, not happiness itself. It's up to us to have the guts and determination for the pursuit.
Life tip: If you want something, make very sure that you are doing all the necessary things to get there. No excuses allowed.
This one will sound more like the typical spring-cleaning tip. I include it because clutter, excess stuff laying around, is a major source of stress and actually holds us back in life. We have to move around it and through it, and it stays in our minds on the list called "things I really ought to do someday but know I never will."
Life tip: If you have not used it in the past year, and it does not have intrinsic or sentimental value, give it away, sell it or throw it out.
The Mask of "I've Got It All Together"
It's so easy to put this mask on, and then forget you are wearing it. We want to look to the outside world as if everything is fine, we've got it all handled, no problems, thank you very much.
This one weighs alot, and is very heavy to carry around. Even worse, it makes it very hard to ask for help, which leads to the next mask.............
The Mask of "I Don't Need Anyone"
Simon and Garfunkel sang "I am a rock, I am an island." So American culture, and so wrong. While it's good to stand on your own two feet, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, and all other applicable clichés, when taken to an extreme, it can be very isolating. While being independent is a worthy goal, we all need someone to lean on. The curious thing is, most people really like to help when asked.
The Mask of Perfectionism
Another very seductive mask because it makes us look so good. Too bad it's not only false, it's also not attainable. So many people strive for perfection as a way to feel good about themselves. A good move here is to trade in perfectionism for excellence, which is attainable, and a whole lot more fun.
The Mask of Busy-ness
Somehow, busy-ness has become associated with importance. If we are always busy, then we must be important. Unfortunately, busy-ness binds us to many things that might be good and worthwhile, while we miss the things that are the very best.
The Mask of Knowing It All
In the world of "difficult people", these folks are known as IEOE's, Instant Experts On Everything. This mask is typically accompanied by a burning desire to beat people over the head with their important knowledge. The really sad thing is these folks tend to be very unteachable, and therefore never actually learn anything.
The Mask of "Impression Management"
While similar to the I've Got It All Together mask, it differs in at least one important way. It's much more exhausting. It's hard to put down the worry about what everyone else thinks, and the need to control the impression you make on each and every person.
The goal of most masks is protection. In many cases it is not needed. Or if it was once needed, that time has passed. Taking off these masks involves risk. It's useful to begin by peeking out from behind the masks a little bit at a time, and then watch what happens. Most folks find that it's much safer out there than they thought, and it's a whole lot easier than lugging around all those heavy masks.