“Ummm…uhhh…gee…thanks, Aunt Tillie. This is just what I wanted.”
Yesterday we talked about negative people. Today, let’s talk about the people in your life who you know mean well but sometimes they’re off the mark.
They genuinely want you to be happy and they want to help you get there. But yet, occasionally, they may say or do something that is hurtful or insulting, or maybe they give you advice that you know is incorrect. You don’t want to hurt their feelings or be discourteous of their honest efforts to be supportive but…
…what’s a person to do when this happens?
The best thing is to be respectful.
Recognize that the advice is coming from the person’s heart and is wrapped in their good wishes for you. Thank them for their interest in you and what you’re trying to accomplish and tell them gently and tactfully that you’ll have to think about what they’ve said.
It’s very, very important that you thank the person. They cared enough about you and your dreams to put in time and effort to be of help to you.
Your homework today is to come up with gracious ways to thank someone for their gift of caring, even if it’s off the mark and won’t be helpful to you. Be compassionate and have empathy. Remember the times you tried to lend a hand to someone but they were inconsiderate of the help you tried to give. That didn’t feel so good. What did you wish they had said or done instead?
Here are a few sentiments to get you started on this assignment:
“Thanks for your idea. That’s an interesting/creative way to look at it. Let me think about that.”
“You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks, I appreciate it.”
“Thanks for your insights. I’ll have to think them through.”
The important thing is to say THANK YOU to the person. And, letting them know you’ll think about it shows your respect for their efforts. That’s what they want: to be helpful and appreciated.
What does that line–one of the most famous in all of movie history–have to do with moving toward your goals? Because it’s as important to know what you don’t want as it is to know what you do want.
The right kind of negative statement can be powerfully motivating. In Gone with the Wind at the end of the film Scarlet is silhouetted in a blazing sunset with the ruins of her beloved Tara around her. That’s when she declares “…I’ll never be hungry again!”
Here is the full text of the movie quote: “As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to beat me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”
In those words, you can feel her steadfast determination and fierce resolve. We believe her and we’re positive she succeeded.
Your homework for today is to draw that line in the sand for yourself. Decide once and for all what you will not tolerate any longer. Write it down using language that is emphatic, filled with powerful emotion, and something that makes the steely strength within you rise up. Make the statement short and to the point; write it down and post it where you see it often. Say the words to yourself every morning when you first wake up and make those words the last ones you say before falling asleep.
For extra credit, rent Gone With the Wind and watch the ending scene over and over again. Absorb the force and intensity of the speech. Make it your own.
“The unexamined life is not worth living by a human being” ~Plato
What if you look back over these past seven days and find that your energy and enthusiasm has dwindled? What if Life has intervened in ways you hadn’t imagined so you’re not really taking any steps at all? What if you never really got out of the starting gate in the first place?
What do you do about this?
Is it time to pack it in, give up, and somehow reconcile yourself to the seeming fact that you’re just not one of the lucky people who can attain their goals and dreams?
The answer is: NO!
Don’t let these thoughts get to you!
It’s very common to find your drive and motivation flagging and it’s an all too usual thing for Life to mess up our best-laid plans. And, many people feel discouraged and disappointed from time-to-time.
When you evaluate yourself, be gentle. I’m positive you can look back over these past few days and identify little things you did do to help yourself and small steps you did take. Even if you’re at the very beginning point where you’re working on this in your mind, give yourself credit for the things you are doing. Even just the simple awareness that you want something better for yourself and you’d like to–or hope to–one day do something about it is a reason to celebrate yourself. Remember from previous posts that mind-work in the form of imagination, visualization, contemplation, and awareness is vital and valuable. Also remember that teeny-tiny steps are the foundation of the larger steps you’ll take later on
Your homework today is to celebrate the victories you’ve had this week, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential. It’s hard work breaking steps into small pieces, overcoming resistance and inertia, pushing aside fears and anxieties, and moving forward. You did it, though!
“Use Imagination!” This statement has genius in it, because it unlocks and unleashes your own special brand of genius in the form of unique and creative ideas and ingenuities. This then fuels you with energy, enthusiasm, and confidence.
“Use Imagination!” is also an anagram of sorts. You can use some of the letters in the phrase to spell the word genius!
And, it’s plain, old-fashioned fun to use your imagination and let it soar; to “give it its head” and let it run.
You may be saying that you’re too busy taking steps to waste time on imagining. Or, you may scoff at the idea, sure that nothing will come of it. That’s because using imagination has gotten a bad rap. Growing up, you probably heard that indulging in imagining was woolgathering, day-dreaming, or being in la-la land. Worse, you may have heard it called laziness, not paying attention, making up stories, or even lying.
It isn’t true!
It’s well-known and documented that great people throughout the ages scheduled time each day for quiet, contemplation in which they would let their imaginations go. Edison was famous for taking naps when he was wrestling with a problem. Often, he would wake with the solution, or a crucial step that would then lead to the solution. Nicola Tesla, upon whose work our wireless technology is based, always worked through his inventions in detail in his mind before building them. And, the daily training routine of Olympians and professional athletes includes imagination sessions where they go through their routines and perfect their movements.
Your homework for today is to schedule an imagination session. Give yourself enough time (5 – 30 minutes) and choose a place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. As you’re getting comfortable gently think about some aspect of your dream or goal. Or, you can think about your dream or goal in general terms. Then go for it–let your imagination roam and soar where it will. And, no worries; you can’t do this homework incorrectly! It doesn’t matter if your mind worries or wanders–gently bring it back to your dream or goal. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t get any images or ideas. No effort is ever wasted. View this as a building block or a training session. Trust that you’ll get better at it because, with regularly doing this exercise, you will get better. Remember, too, that even the greatest thinkers didn’t have insights or eureka moments in every single session either; you’re in good company!
Naturally you want to do the best job you can. And of course you must be prudent and do sufficient research and planning before starting out. But don’t let these honorable traits turn into a straightjacket that prevents you from moving forward.
Planning and research are an important and a vital first step in any undertaking. Give yourself a deadline for completing these, though. Then take that one step, trusting in not only what you’ve found out but also in your native intelligence and common sense, in your life experience, and in the fact that you probably have other resources at your fingertips. Remember, you can always Google it or ask your friendly librarian or a friend or read a book on the subject or talk to someone who you know has more experience or knowledge in the area than you do. Don’t be afraid to “draw a line under it”, under the research and planning stage, and declare that good enough is good enough. Then go for it–take that first incremental step!
This is where the benefit and the power of breaking your steps into itty bitty fragments comes in. You’ll be able to take that little step by the deadline because you’ve broken them into teeny-tiny parts that you know for sure you can easily complete. And, because you’ve also categorized them into time chunks, you know that if you only have five minutes to devote to your dreams that deadline day, you can look under that category and choose a piece.
So, set that deadline for finishing your research and planning phase and select a little step that you’ll be able to do at that deadline. Now you have a plan. Isn’t this great? Don’t you feel proud of yourself? Don’t you feel a surge of energy as well?
WooHoo! This is awesome stuff! Now you can see the reality that you can actually do this–you can achieve your goals and dreams!
WooHoo! Go you!
Your homework for today is to revel in the positive, empowered feelings you’ve just created. DON’T SKIP THIS HOMEWORK!! All too often, we forget–or pooh-pooh–the small, often tiny, victories and achievements we have. You MUST honor yourself, your hard work, and the bravery and courage you’ve poured into every little bit of forward movement.
You can do it! Go you!
I am so very proud of you! I knew you could do it!
Here we are at the beginning of a fresh, clean New Year. It’s sparkling, glittering with opportunity and promise. We can do anything we set our minds to! We’ll knock it out of the ballpark this year, for sure.
From this vantage point, we believe that this year will be different for us. Of course we’ll follow through on our plans, goals, and resolutions. We have vim, we have vigor, and we’re confident we’ll keep driving forward all the way through the end of December. But yet, there’s a niggling uncertainty in the back of our minds…how will we actually do this?
Though, for some of us at the leading edge of the New Year, we have a different vantage point. Instead of seeing the brightness of possibility and good fortune, we may be experiencing the bone-wearying lifelessness of the deepening rut we’ve been in for years. We have no goals, we have no plans, and we have no resolutions. Our hopes and dreams died years ago. We have no expectations because we promised ourselves that this year we would not set ourselves up for the disappointment of not following through and the resulting humiliation of being in the same place–or worse–this time next year. Furthermore, it’s exhausting to even think about getting up the nerve and wherewithal to try–yet again–to make something different for ourselves. But still, there’s a small whisper niggling at the back of our minds saying that we’re made for something more, something greater, than this…but how do we actually do this?
The answer is: by taking one step at a time.
It sounds simplistic, even ludicrous. Maybe it’s insulting to be told something we’ve heard countless times before. We’ve already tried it with varying degrees of success and yet we’ve stood by helplessly as our excitement and drive fizzled out. Or, perhaps we’re crushed by the despair of not being able to summon the tiniest scrap of energy to take so much as a feeble limp, much less a step.
All these objections are saying one thing: the steps you are taking, or are imagining you must take, are too large. Break them into smaller pieces. Make them microscopic if you have to. Break them down to the point where the first step is something you believe is reasonable and achievable; something you can do. It doesn’t matter what other people are doing or have done. It doesn’t matter that the step you are taking is so small that even the most powerful electron microscope would have trouble detecting it. The only thing that matters is that you are taking action–moving forward.
So that first step–either the one you will take or the one you are imagining taking–break it down into smaller pieces. Break those into baby pieces. Then break those into teeny tiny pieces. Keep breaking them into smaller and smaller increments until you get to a piece that you know you can commit to doing.
To help you, repeat to yourself often throughout the day, emphasizing the word in italics:
I can do it;
I can do it;
I can do it;
I can do it.
Also repeat to yourself often throughout the day, emphasizing the word in italics:
Yes I can;
Yes I can;
Yes I can.
If one of these strikes a chord within you, then repeat that one as often as you can. Write it down, carry it with you, paste it where you’ll see it often, and refer to it throughout the day.
Your homework for today is to break your step into small, easily doable increments and do only one of those increments today. Or, when you imagine a step you might take if the world were perfect and if you had a stiff wind at your back, break that down into a very small piece that causes you to say, “Huh. I think I can actually do that one.”
For those of you who can take the small incremental step, go ahead and do so. For those of you who can only imagine it, then do that–trying to imagine it using as many senses as you can. Don’t worry if you get only a little glimmer of it. That’s good enough for now.
Congratulations! Pat yourself on the back because you did it! You took the first step! That’s all you had to do today so you’re done! You’re free to do what ever else you’d like to do.