Hamster Wheels and Pseudo Thread…among other things

So…I read another great post from one of my favorite email subscriptions yesterday – Liz Goodchild’s, “Life Coaching for People Who Give a Shit”.
I read her advice Every. Single. Time. she posts – it’s that good – guess that makes me one of those people… 
But I already knew that. 
I’m an INFJ. That’s not code for anything – it’s a personality type.  
I’ve posted about that before (how learning your personality type is like finding your very own personal owner’s manual…the lost edition) – it’s all very fascinating and entertaining and simple to do too, if you are so inclined. And to keep you from having to go back and dig through old posts in case I’ve now piqued your interest …go to: http://www.16personalities.com to get the scoop. But I digress…
THIS post isn’t about that – not directly anyway.
THIS post is about the ‘Aha!’ moment that sometimes (if we’re lucky) occurs when we read something that tells us to pay attention. Really pay attention. The light bulb moment…The nudge.  
I get this nudge often. I’m tuned in. So, believe me – I know a nudge when I see/feel one.
Yet…I DON’T EVER SEEM TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
Crazy, right? Especially for someone as ‘tuned in’ as I claim to be. 
It’s the bane of my existence. Well, it’s a major bane, the one topping the list at the moment. Some of the others are: people who litter, tags in shirts that use horribly stiff pseudo thread, and flimsy drinking straws and stir-sticks – but I’ll save those for another time.
This post is about that feeling I get often: ‘the thing I’m supposed to be doing with my life’. You know the thing – it’s just over there – somewhere else – just out of reach and always a bit fuzzy. 
And so I read posts and articles and books about it. I acknowledge the Aha! Moment whenever I encounter one and enthusiastically embrace it, “Yes, that is SO true! Yes, I must DO that!”
I understand and agree with everything about the Aha! Moment completely. It resonates with me like meeting a kindred spirit for the first time. I know it. I understand it. It makes complete sense to me. And I have absolutely no concerns about the validity of any of it.
Yet….crickets.
It’s like that old saying of waiting for your ship to come in. You see the ship. It’s loaded with passengers who’ve already gotten the nudge and are happily on board waving and blowing kisses at you, telling you to come aboard too. But for some reason you just can’t step off the dock. 
It’s all very frustrating.
I tell myself that ‘if it were the right time it would happen – whatever it happens to be’. And that ‘things happen when they are supposed to happen’. Blah, blah, blah, blaaaaahhhh.  
But…doesn’t it also take doing something to make something happen?
If I want the TV remote and it’s across the room, is fate telling me I’m not supposed to watch TV because the remote isn’t already in my hand? Maybe I’ll learn something from the television show I’m about to watch or maybe, if I choose not to watch, I’ll read something interesting instead. No big deal.
We’re given opportunities and choices for everything. Everything. Not just the little things but the big things as well. Why do we get so tripped up in one instance but not in another?
Because the stakes seem higher when it comes to life choices and because we’re so afraid of making a wrong choice or a mistake. We’re so afraid of doing it wrong – even when we have no idea what ‘wrong’ is. We may not even know what ‘right’ is.
And this is the truth – –
We’d rather continue to do the same thing over and over (and over) like a hamster in a wheel – than risk doing something new and different – even if new and different has the potential to be better!
That’s insane.
So….here is something to really think about:

Where is the line drawn in the sand and, more importantly, who’s in charge of the drawing?

And if you’d like to be inspired – read Liz’s blog…www.lizgoodchild.co.uk

 

Bears, sharks & lightning

Bears, sharks & lightning…and not necessarily in that order.
What are you afraid of? 
For me, the very idea of setting off on an adventure continues to top by bucket list.
At least once each day I’m either day-dreaming about the possibilities of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, or setting off on a solo voyage across the ocean. Now, I don’t actually ‘actively’ hike nor do I own a boat, but the very idea of it all sends my heart into flutter mode. Of course that could also have something to do with the bears, sharks and lightning I mentioned above. 

I mean, I can deal with bugs, and I can deal with blisters and too much sun, and being dirty for days. I can even deal with eating the same meal day after day or any other similar deprivation which would result from removing myself from civilization for months on end, but I cannot for the life of me even begin to imagine suddenly finding myself face to face (eeek!!, I can’t even print it!) with a bear, shark or lightning encounter! This is where i get tripped up!
I read somewhere that our ‘real life’ is out there waiting for us. And I guess I think mine must be either in the woods or on the ocean. 

Stepping outside our comfort zone allows us to grow. It pushes us to tap into all our potential.  And I hear we all have loads of it if we’re open to it. All risks are growth opportunities; good and bad and the transitional skills we gain help us deal with changes in our lives.  

As we accumulate transitional skills we are able to move to the next ‘level’ kind of like Mario…storing up an arsenal for future challenges.

And as our arsenal of skills increases in size we may find we need a bigger comfort zone to house them in and that’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Cabinet of Curiosities


Are you a collector? 

Do you find yourself drawn to certain things and ever wonder why that is?

Over the years I collected the typical things like dated Christmas ornaments, figurines, and dolls. But I’ve also collected things that wouldn’t exactly be considered ‘collectibles’. My first collection (I remember very well and was very fond of it too) was clothing tags that I placed on my bedroom wall. It wasn’t only the tags I was interested in but the arrangement as well – maybe more so; I would spend a considerable amount of time moving them into pleasing compositions. 

More recently, and for the past several years now, I’ve amassed quite a collection of fragments of various things, mostly vintage and usually favoring a certain color family (usually from the mid-century) as you can see from this photograph of my cabinet of curiosities. And the more broken, the better. 

I wonder what Freud was have to say about that. 

According to Wikipedia…

When people think of collecting, they may imagine expensive works of art or historical artifacts that are later sold to a museum or listed on eBay. The truth is, for many people who amass collections, the value of their collections are not monetary but emotional —and often, not for sale. Collections allow people to relive their childhoods, to connect themselves to a period in history or to a time they feel strongly about. Their collections may help them to ease insecurity and anxiety about losing a part of themselves, and to keep the past present [1] Some collect for the thrill of the hunt. Collecting is much like a quest, a lifelong pursuit which can never be complete.[2] Collecting may provide psychological security by filling a part of the self one feels is missing or is void of meaning.[3] When one collects, one experiments with arranging, organizing, and presenting a part of the world which may serve to provide a safety zone, a place of refuge where fears are calmed and insecurity is managed.[4] Motives are not mutually exclusive; rather, different motives combine in each collector for a multitude of reasons.
(Psychology of Collecting – Wikipedia)

Interesting!!

Frequency Illusions

Have you ever heard of frequency illusion? It’s the term for that phenomenon where, as an example, you buy a new car and suddenly see the same kind of car everywhere or read about something new and then hear someone mention that same subject soon afterwards? It’s also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (but frequency illusion might be a bit easier to remember!). Regardless of what it’s called it all has to do with selective memory and our brain’s affinity for pattern recognition. If you get a chance, do a Google search – it’s pretty interesting stuff.
But it got me to thinking…

Maybe this is why all the bad news we see/hear/read starts to feel so overwhelming.  

Maybe we’re using selective memory with all the negative information the same way we use it with the interesting stuff we actually seek out.  

I quit reading the news a long time ago for this very reason but occasionally something will slip through the cracks. And just a crack’s-worth of information is all it takes to settle me into a funk for quite a long time.

And unfortunately, a little bit of funk can soon become the foundation for a lot more funk to build on.

Allowing negativity to settle in isn’t difficult at all; it requires almost no effort whatsoever to view our world and see all that is bad. One story will build on another story and soon it seems that ALL stories are the same – the cast of characters may be different but the storyline is identical; it becomes ‘fill in the blank – insert bad news here’ story after miserable story. And with anything that gets repeated and repeated and repeated…its gets old and tiring and HEAVY – sometimes too heavy to bear.  

But we tend to think that when we ‘worry about something’ we’re somehow actively doing something beneficial to the cause. We actually think that our ‘worry’ serves some sort of purpose; that it somehow helps the situation.  

If I ‘worry’ about your problem – can you ‘feel’ me worrying? Can you feel me being concerned about you? Does it help you?

No. You can’t. And it doesn’t.

The only person who can feel the heaviness of worry and concern is the person doing it.  

It serves absolutely no beneficial purpose whatsoever. It is not beneficial or helpful in any way – to any one! Worry and concern are weight-bearing emotions that break us down by adding stress to our lives. Do you need more stress? Don’t we have enough to manage without adding the extra weight of the world to the load?

So how can we avoid this sort of thing? How do we not allow worry and stress to consume our lives?  What can we do to keep from feeling as though we are being inundated with negativity all the time?  

Besides turning off the constant stream of negativity from all outside sources (or, at the very least, limiting those feeds considerably) the key is to become keenly observant to what is good.  When we see or hear something positive we want more of the same. 

We should train ourselves to seek out the positive and allow it to become the foundation for more of the same to build on. And not just in a new-agey-feel-good kind of way either – but in a more habit-building, Pavlovian-conditioning kind of way. We need to actively seek it out; go out of our way to find it and make it a consistent part of our day to day life.    

Some might say this is a ‘head-in-the-sand’ way to live. But I say it’s the only way to live.

Try actively searching for and noticing all (or only) that which is good about your day even if that means having to give the benefit of the doubt when you may ‘know better’. There is a popular saying now to ‘fake it til you make it’ and there may be no better time in our history than now to put it to use!

Prime example…The above image was taken at our local garbage dump (stinky smell and flies included) or was it??   It’s all in your perspective!

😊 

What’s Your Superpower?


Wouldn’t it make more sense if humans started out mature and knowledgeable and THEN grew younger??

I mean, I’m just beginning to figure things out! Unfortunately, by 9pm though, I can barely stay awake long enough to read much less strategize on saving the world! 

It’s also unfortunate that we tend to spend (i.e. waste) so much of our time trying to figure out what it is we’re meant to do in the first place. We don’t have to necessarily save the world to make an impact though; we can simply tidy up our own little corner of it making it a pleasant place to hang out while at the same time offering value to our surrounding neighborhood.

One of the best ways to do this, I think, is by gaining self-awareness. 

Understanding our strengths and (maybe even more important) our weaknesses can be very insightful and a great reminder of what we are capable of and also what it is we most love to do (or where we should be putting most of our efforts for the best outcome).

I’m a big fan of personality tests and the one at www.16personalities.com is a fun, quick and painless way to gain this insight. Not only is learning about ourselves helpful but we can also begin to understand why others do the things they do; making our relationships stronger. 

I think it’s nothing short of life-changing.

We all have some form of superpower; the sooner we can figure it out and put it to use…the better

Adrift

Have you ever felt adrift – as if you’re moving but not really in any particular direction?
I have – for several months now.

Since that’s not exactly a bad feeling to have, I’m not sure why it’s been bothering me as much as it has, but even still, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s causing it and also what to do about it.

Several months ago I found myself at the finish line after setting (and achieving) a couple of significant goals. And when I say these goals required me to stay focused that is truly an understatement; I was living a very restrictive (self-inflicted) lifestyle in order to achieve these goals in the limited timeframe I’d set for myself.    

During this process though, I learned a couple of things about myself: a) I can actually stick with something once I make up my mind to do so, and b) I had the power all along!!  

Knowing this has opened up a world of possibilities.  

In other words: note to self: “The meter is running…what else ya got??”

That would explain the ‘floundering about’ feeling I’ve been having.

So, if you happen to be like me and view your life as one, big, outstretched map before you – deciding where to put those little map flags on the map is almost as much fun as actually going to the ‘places’ (insert any goal here) they represent. You’re determining the path you will take that will lead you to your next adventure (whatever goal that may be). And the goals you set and achieve along your route are nice reminders to propel you further along, reminding you that you have what it takes to decide where you’d like to ‘go’ next.    

Now, I know there are tons of blog posts/self-help books out there about goal setting (I’ve read the majority of them) but no matter how much I read about it, nothing helped quite as much as going through it myself and looking back on it now.  

But the first and most important thing I learned was this little nugget of information:  

You have to want it badly enough. READ THAT AGAIN.  

You have to want it badly enough.

If you don’t want it badly enough you won’t stick with it long enough. End of story.  

Had those authors put this little disclaimer on the cover of all of those self-help books and blog posts I’ve read, I would have saved myself SO much reading time!

But here’s the good news – if you DO want it badly enough – here are three things I’ve learned to help get you there.    

1. Staying focused and goal oriented is a great confidence builder. But you have to be very specific about what you will or won’t allow and stick with it. NO EXCEPTIONS. This is important. Be honest with yourself about what it will take to reach your goal and keep that goal in sight at all times. If veering off the path at any time will cause a setback; make sure you are aware of this so there will be no surprises or disappointments. Keep track on a daily basis because….

 2. When you have a lot of confidence you can achieve a lot of stuff. Knowing where you are on the path at all times will help you stay on track. Seeing your progress is a great motivator. And don’t buy into the ‘I’ve done so well I will treat myself’ downward-spiraling mindset either. That is the worst thing you can do! And try…

 3. Working under pressure of a deadline – it ups the stakes significantly – the goal is no longer just something you’d ‘like’ to achieve – it becomes the very thing you want badly enough! Remind yourself every time you think about straying how it will impact your ability to reach your goal. It will keep you from getting the thing you want most. How dare that temptation!! And after working so hard to get where you are… In the beginning stages of goal setting it’s sometimes necessary to be in an ‘all or nothing’ mindset – at least until the process begins to move forward (with little extra effort). Momentum is very important. Your goal will become very personal at this point and that’s a good thing.

 

 So ask yourself: What goal do you want to achieve?

 and

Do you want it badly enough??

 

 If so, then just remember this:

 Be Specific.

Monitor and defend it.

Own it!

 

It really is that simple!

 

 

Self-ish

  
Have you experienced Adobe’s Slate app? It’s free and simple to use. I created a ‘story’ called ‘Self-ish: A Journey of Self Portraiture’ with it. Lots of possibilities for creating illustrative stories effortlessly! 

Give it a try!

https://slate.adobe.com/a/G8y5k