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Archive for September, 2011

The Simplest Things Are The Most Profound

The Simplest Things Are The Most Profound

Photo courtesy of Dave Hoffmaster

A sunrise or a sunset.  Happens every day, doesn’t it?  And until we really notice and become aware of that sunrise or sunset, it just seems like such a simple, almost mundane thing.  The sun comes up.  The sun goes down.  The sun comes up.  The sun goes down…

But, what majesty!  What beauty!  How amazing what is occurring with our earth for us to experience something so seemingly simple, yet something so profound!

The same is true of our daily lives.

The simplest things are the most profound.

Take something like brushing your teeth.  You probably don’t think too much about it anymore; you just do it.  But what if you stopped doing it?  I would venture to say that, first of all, you would develop some rather foul-smelling breath as the bacteria took hold in your mouth…  Secondly, as the bacteria took hold, it would begin to create holes in your teeth.  Eventually, you wouldn’t have any teeth to chew your food with, would you?  Or not any teeth in very good condition anyway.  Brushing your teeth is a very simple thing that, when done, seems like nothing, but when not done creates all kinds of problems!

The simplest things are the most profound.

This applies to your thinking as well.  Let’s look at how you think about yourself and your capability.

You go through your days and most likely look like you’re capable and taking care of things.  And you ARE in many, if not most, situations.  But who knows why there are some areas that make your knees weak or fill you with dread?  Some unconscious belief lurking beneath the depths?  Perhaps.  Some fear of failing in some way?  Perhaps.  Some fear of succeeding in some way?  Also quite possible.

But, no matter.  It might be helpful to explore those issues in therapy or even in journaling, but often they are best addressed by taking some action.  However, take action with support so you don’t panic or procrastinate or sabotage yourself!  Sometimes you keep procrastinating because of the cognitive dissonance between how easy the task appears to be but how frightened you feel to proceed, for whatever the reason!  If you don’t appreciate your fear or if you minimize how hard or scary something really is for you, then you will keep wondering why you’re not making progress!

If you tell yourself, “This is really easy!” but you’re not moving on it, you eventually give yourself a lot of grief and judge yourself negatively!

IF, however, you are able to back off and give yourself a bit of acceptance and compassion, you can say something like, “Wow, it really scares me to make this phone call.”  However, do not add, “Gee, I must be really stupid, incompetent…” or some version of that!  The more you can identify when you are scared and offer yourself some compassion and support, the more you stand a chance to make some progress!  The hardest part is stopping your critic.  And actually, you want to notice your critic, to notice when you hear yourself say, “Gee, I must be really stupid, incompetent..” and respond to that critic with some facts!

It can help to remember that the critic is functioning from the limbic portion of your brain, which is the emotional part.  You want to respond from the rational, reasoning, frontal cortex part of your brain with something like, “That’s not true.  For some reason, I’m scared.  Being scared just means that I need some reassurance or support, not that I’m stupid or incompetent.”  It seems so simple that it is hard to believe that it is so powerful!

The simplest things are the most profound.

Here are the steps.

1) Decide that you would like to become more accurate in the way you you think about yourself.

2) Pay attention to what you’re thinking about yourself when a difficult or challenging situation arises.  Most of us have room for improvement in this area!                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

3) Say, “Stop!” if you find yourself making negative judgments about yourself and the way you’re handling this difficult situation.

4) Respond to this negative judgment as if you are defending your best friend or a young child you love.  You deserve that same kind of compassion and tenderness!  It’s not necessary to make up stuff.  Just be truthful.  You can say something like, “No, you’re not stupid (or lazy or worthless, etc.); you’re just learning how to do this (or, “You’re just in need of some time to relax,” or “You’ve just had a really overwhelming, busy week!”)

5) Watch yourself relax a little.  Compassion has a way of making it a little easier to breathe.  Even if this practice seems silly or awkward at first, press on!  It’s probably unfamiliar because you’re new at it!

The simplest things are the most profound.

Give yourself credit for being willing to try out something new, something simple that can indeed make a profound difference in your life!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.  Here are the ways you can do that.

1) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

2) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

3) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

“I Should…”

“I should  _________________________.”

How do you fill in the blank?  Got a long list of stuff that you “should” do?  Yeah, me too, but I am ever so careful to keep my awareness of that word on high!  When you hear (or think), “You should (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah),” don’t you get the sense that someone’s index finger is pointing at you, like you’re being accused of something?

“Guilty as charged!”

The same kind of feeling happens when you do that to yourself.  Sometimes it’s referred to as “shoulding” on yourself.  You’ve taken over where those authorities in your life left off!  You’ve internalized those authority figures.

Now, not all of that internalizing is necessarily a bad thing.  You need your conscience to guide your decisions.  But you don’t need “shoulds”!

Look at the difference in these two statements.

“I should ________________.”

vs.

“I want _________________.”

Small difference in words but HUGE difference not only in outcome, but in how you feel about yourself!  “I should _______________” implies that you haven’t done whatever it is and don’t really want to.  Right?

“I want _________________” puts you back in charge, raises your awareness of what’s really going on with you and is more empowering and choiceful!  With “I should _______________”, there is only one correct answer, right?  And that answer is not something that you want to do!

Turn it around for yourself!

Instead of “I should _____________________”,

USE “I want ________________________.”

Make it a game.  See how many times you can catch yourself saying, “I should ________________.”  You’ll be amazed at the frequency when you first start noticing your “should” thinking!  And, whenever you can, turn it around for yourself by changing it to, “I want _______________.”  It is so different.  It truly is like night and day both in how you’ll feel and in the increase in clarity and focus, which can help you get more done!  It’s an excellent way of reminding yourself that you really are responsible for your life after all!

If you’d like the support of a coach who intimately understands this issue and can give you the support and structure you need to be more effective in this area, contact me.  It is such a joy to be a part of you creating a lighter spirit for yourself!

Here are the ways you can contact me.

1) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

2) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

3) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

10 Steps To Getting THE MOST IMPORTANT Things Done

As I was doing my best to talk myself down from the increasing anxiety I felt about my list of “to-do’s” for the day, I automatically did something that was very helpful.  However, I didn’t really appreciate how powerful a strategy it is that I have learned.  It’s something that is so obvious to any kind of time management that many people might think it silly to address in an article.  Nevertheless, I believe that

“The simplest things are the most profound.”

This is one of those simple, profound things.

Here is what I did.

1.  I made a list of all of the things I hoped to accomplish that day.

2.  I put my best estimate of how long I thought each would take (going from my experience of how long something might take, rather than how long I think or wish it would take!)

3.  For several items, I put a range of time that something might take, like 3-4 hours or 20-30 minutes.

4.  I added up the total time, both the shortest and longest times.

5.  Not to be excluded because of its seeming simplicity, I also did my best to

realistically calculate how much time I had to work with

to get those items done.  It is so easy to skip over this essential step or drastically overestimate how much time I have by, say, not allowing time to prepare or eat lunch, or assuming that I can work for 6 hours straight or forgetting that I need to factor in a 15 or 20 minute walk for my dog, (who will then be much calmer and quieter for the remaining part of the day…)

6.  I thought, “Hmmm, there’s no way that I can get those 8-10 hours of things done in the 6 1/2 hours I have left before my daughter returns from school!  (I have realized that it is important to connect with my now 13-year-old, rather than continuing to attempt to get things done on my list, which takes away my focus and also takes away my presence for my daughter and for myself!)

7.  I identified the most important things for me to get done that day, either because of a deadline or because of the value they hold.

8.  I added my time estimates for the shortened “most important things” list.

9.  I compared whether my shortened list would fit into my “how much time I had to work with” estimate.  Still too long.  Bummer.

But, there’s hope.

10.  Back to #7.  Really zeroing in on

“What are absolutely the most important things that I want to get done this particular day?”

Sometimes the problem is that I was all geared up to finally get a particular thing done, but it is something that can actually be done on another day.  Sometimes the problem is needing to prioritize whether it is a family or personal or business thing that is most important on this particular day.  And sometimes it’s just that I have to recognize my own particular limits and appreciate that all of the little things I do in my home not only do matter but also do require time.  It’s still hard for me to do that, which is often why I run into trouble with time management.

Hopefully by this point, the length of time of my list of “most important things” now fits into the available time that I have.  If not, I repeat Step #10 until it does.  Sometimes I take my chances and jump headlong into it, in the hope of getting a bit more done than it appears I have time for.  Because I almost always use my longest time estimates when I add my total, sometimes this works, but typically it backfires, and my anxiety and frustration increase.  Not helpful and not what I’m aiming for!

Things always take longer than you think they’re going to take.

For reasons I’ve already addressed and for many other reasons.  Call it life, call it change, call it being human, call it whatever you want to, but it certainly helps to have this kind of strategy to increase the likelihood of getting done what you hope to get done.

And then, of course, follow your plan and do the things you’ve identified are most important!  By following through, you’re letting yourself know that what you have identified as important is of value and does matter.  Ultimately you are saying that you matter and what you decide matters.  Seems an obvious point, but it’s significant in our view of ourselves.

Keep your view of yourself positive and give yourself the support or strategy you need to more effectively manage your time.  And, as my husband sometimes suggests to me, you might even keep your lists for several days or a few weeks.  You’ll be astounded at what all you actually do get done as time goes on!

If you’d like the support of a coach who intimately understands this issue and can give you the support and structure you need to be more effective in this area, contact me.  It is such a joy to be a part of you creating a lighter spirit for yourself!

Here are the ways you can contact me.

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

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