Monthly Archives: November 2015

I’m Gonna Get In Trouble

For as long as I can remember, I have had this nagging, low-level feeling that I’m about to get in trouble.  It has been an ongoing theme playing in the background of my mind for decades.  I think people do that.  They pick up a tune in their head and it just keeps playing over and over, and is adapted to fit whatever happens to be going on in their life.  For me, I have versions of the “gonna get in trouble” tune that I have played at work, with regard to chores around the house, and in relationship with friends and family.  Sometimes I play a slightly different version, “I know I am forgetting something”, and of course, having forgotten whatever it is will get me in trouble somehow.

There are endless varieties of tunes, but some are on the most popular list and get adopted a lot, tunes like “I’m not smart enough,” or “I’m not pretty enough”.  Another popular one is, “I’ll probably get sick.”  Probably less common, but there are also happy tunes, like “Things always work out for me.”  I like that tune.  I want to have that one on my playlist.

These tunes actually shape and influence the outcomes of people’s lives.  Our brains hear the themes we repeat endlessly to ourselves and then sets out on a mission to find things and situations that align with them, and filters out anything that doesn’t.  We all have these themes, or beliefs, that run our lives, and until we make it conscious and notice what we are doing, it will continue playing and influencing what we let in to our lives and what we filter out of our lives.  There is an unlimited abundance of ideas, resources and opportunities right in front of us that we are totally overlooking because our brain filters them out as a result of the stories we tell ourselves and the theme songs we play on auto-repeat.  It defines our identity, who and how we think we are.  I suppose you could call it “I tunes”, since we use them to define who we are, who “I” am.

My “I’m about to get in trouble” theme started in my childhood at least by the summer in which I turned 12.  This was the summer my family moved to a tiny town called Oologah.  We lived in a mobile home, or house trailer, some folks called them, parked in the middle of a cow pasture.  I have three older sisters and a younger brother, and each of us kids was assigned chores, such as vacuuming and dusting or carrying out the trash, and we would get in trouble if we didn’t have them done by the time Mom got home from work.

I was a procrastinator, even way back then, and that was on a good day.  Most days it was worse than procrastination.  I just didn’t get it done.  And I constantly had that “I’m gonna get in trouble,” feeling hanging over me.  One of my sisters was quite fond of reminding me of my impending doom as well.  But still, whatever it was that diverted my attention apparently seemed more important to me than getting my chores done and avoiding punishment.  Honestly, I can’t even remember what the punishment was or if it was ever really carried out.  I can’t remember that part.  Just the feeling, “I’m gonna get in trouble.”  It wasn’t an intense, terrifying feeling.  It was just a low-level nagging feeling, and it is still with me today.  I think it might be time to take that old record off the record player.

But how does one go about doing that?  That will be a topic for further investigation, but what I do know for sure now is that it will never change until I do the work to make it conscious and become aware in the moments I am playing this theme.  You cannot change what you do not notice.

For now, I will not worry about changing or fixing the theme.  I will not attempt to wrestle it to the ground and kill it.  I will sharpen my awareness and hear the message it has for me.  I trust that some part of me is replaying that tune over and over to communicate something important to me, to be of service to me in some way.  The whole of me will benefit by giving that part of myself a chance to be noticed, heard and understood.

Life Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect To Feel Better

Kona

My sweet girl, Kona

When you are feeling difficult emotions, whether it be stress, anxiety, sadness or overwhelm, here is a little trick.  Get distracted.

Even though I have studied personal development for many years, and have focused particularly on the subject of emotional wisdom, I have to admit that I am throwing a little pity party for myself this afternoon.  You see, I got some sad news yesterday.  I wasn’t surprised.  I’ve seen something like this coming for a while now.

I took my 14-year-old Chocolate Lab to the veterinarian yesterday.  She has a boo-boo on her foot which has been giving her some problems, so I took her in to see if Doc could give her something to make her foot feel better.  Which he did.  But, dang it, he didn’t stop there.

He saw some telltale signs of a much more serious problem.  I had noticed some changes, but didn’t have the education and experience to know exactly what that meant.  I thought she was just slowing down a little bit.  He thought her kidneys were slowing down a lot.  This diagnosis brought her mortality to the forefront of my mind.

As a coach and teacher, I help people understand that they feel the way they feel because of the thoughts they are choosing to think.  This situation is a perfect object lesson to help me remember my own soap box speech.  I am feeling sad because of what I am thinking about.  The diagnosis has brought my attention to the fact that in the near future I am going to have to say goodbye to my friend.  When I think that particular thought, the corresponding emotion is there immediately.  I have Kleenex nearby as I write this.

In the midst of all of this sadness, a funny thing happened.  Not funny ha ha, funny interesting.  My cell phone rang and it was an unwanted call from a solicitor.  I was thoroughly annoyed.  Downright indignant.  I jumped on Google and queried why in the heck solicitors are calling my cell phone.  I saw tons of irate comments from other victims, so it did not take long to realize that I clearly am not the first one to be ticked off by this development.  It actually sounds like I’m lucky it hasn’t happened sooner and more often.

Then I noticed something.  I noticed that just a minute ago I was feeling very sad about my dog and now I am feeling very cranky about unsolicited calls from solicitors.  My attention was diverted, my focus shifted, and now I am thinking about something different.  The emotions followed my thoughts just as they always do.  It is a perfect system.  If you pay attention, your emotions are a clear indicator as to what you are presently thinking about and how you are thinking about it.

With that knowledge, you have the power to feel differently at will by choosing to shift your attention and focus and therefore your thoughts.  Distraction or any other means possible is all fair game.

It is a choice, and it is okay if you don’t shift your attention.  For a few minutes, I chose to stay with the thoughts and feel sad about my sweet dog, Kona.  The thought of losing her hurts and I allowed that thought and feeling to just be there for a little while.  I love it that I get to choose, because for the vast majority of the time I have remaining with her I want to just enjoy her and make it easy for her to enjoy me.  She is sensitive to how I am feeling and she would probably prefer that I don’t drag both of us down in the dumps for the duration.

So, yeah, life is not perfect and happy things happen and sad things happen.  This is why I am so appreciative that I get to choose how I feel by managing my own focus and attention.