We’re rewarded for cautionary thinking—particularly in a time when everything is whizzing around literally at the click of a mouse. Want something? Click on it and it’s yours. Like something? Click “like” and you’ve weighed in. The speed of our lives may indeed be the bane of modern existence.
Yet there’s another side to this quick response ability--a helpful side to the side of us that “instantly” knows or feels.
Methodical can be good. Analytical is often brilliant. Both can slow our impulses and lessen our regrets as well as delay our desire for instant gratification.
But I believe, in some instances, the tendency to overanalyze people, situations, life events, etc., can also dampen our instincts and create self-doubt.
Actually, I don’t believe that; I know that. Firsthand.
In other words, there’s a canyon of difference between “thinking it over” and “overthinking.”
In our remarkable intellectual abilities, there remain numerous traps and endless loops. It’s remarkably easy for us to ascend to the point of decision-making, and then simply hold…or delay… or back off completely under the guise of needing more information. Or time. Or consensus.
If your tendency is to overthink to the point of inertia, I want you to run a personal experiment for a while. Are you ready? You’ve heard this advice a million times, but I think it bears repeating and reassessment as we move into the New Year:
“Trust your gut.”
What does that really mean? Quite simply, I believe it means (and science now offers evidence to support the adage) that on a very instinctive level, we all know what feels right and not right for us. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, an opportunity—we have a fabulous inner guide that is ready to assist if we let ourselves listen and feel.
So as your contemplating your life this holiday season and making plans for 2017, I want you to back off the analysis and justification modes. If an idea, or a person, or creative endeavor calls to you and you begin to step toward it, I want you to bypass your well-developed doubt muscle and take another step toward your “it.” No more thinking. Put your instincts into action. Allow your inner knowing to take the reins for a bit.
And then write me and tell me how it went. And what you noticed. And what you learned.
Wishing you all the best this holiday season and peace in the New Year.
Oh and one more thing—if you’re keen on joining me in Montana in September 2017, I’m offering a sweet discount through the end of the year.
Reserve your spot by midnight on December 31, 2016, and pay the “sign up with a friend” rate. Click here for details.
I took a big chance a few months back and brought on a partner for my Equus Coaching work. I had a strong hunch he'd be a good fit as a business partner, but of course the success of that leap really comes down to temperament.
Does he like people? Would he mind groups of people? What's his general demeanor?
For a clear answer to those questions, see the photo above. :)
I came across this video and felt it was too good not to share (see link below). You don't need to be into horses to get some real spark from this less than five-minute video. (The camera work and editing is pretty fab, too.)
I hope that 2015 is wrapping up well for you and you're actively preparing for the year that's about to begin. And I hope you've got BIG plans for 2016 because it's the planning that you're doing now--and the expectation that you're holding--that will make all the difference in the outcome.
Wishing you peace...
(Um...yeah...that's not my car pictured above. Someday...but not right now.)
It’s been a few months now since my last newsletter. A lot has happened and as one might expect, much of it is relevant on this life journey.
First things first: My car got broken late in the summer. (That’s a story in and of itself but we’ll save that for another time.) And what appeared to be substantial damage quickly turned into the insurance company labeling it a total loss.
Total loss—a harsh declaration indeed.
So I started my search for the same car, slightly newer, in my price range. While that goal might seem relatively simple in the Internet age, the task proved to be quite formidable. The search appeared to lead me into one obstacle after another, a false start or two, and a lot of shoulder shrugging from car salespeople.
To make a long story short, I found my car about two weeks ago. Ironically, it was located in my hometown in New York. (But maybe that’s not so ironic when you consider how the Universe often works). So after some back and forth with the salespeople at that dealership, I made arrangements to travel by bus, and then by train, to pick my car up. I felt like a two-month long slog was finally coming to a happy conclusion.
Then, less than 24 hours after I picked up my new car, someone backed into it and dented the driver’s side door.
What. The. Hell?
As I stood on the street, surveying the damage to this wonderful, expensive purchase I had just made, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry hysterically.
I was stupefied. And mad. And confused.
What did this mean? Was this NOT really the car I was supposed to buy? Was this a bad sign? Was it a good sign?
How do we assimilate circumstances like these? How do we frame untimely events so that we don’t automatically categorize them as just plain old bad luck and feel victimized by fate? Because I gotta say, in the moments after that turn of events, all I could feel was anger and disappointment.
So I let it gel for a few days. I let my own observations sort of swirl around the issue, and did what I needed to do to process the insurance claim.
And after considering all of the evidence, I can now see that this accident had to happen. It was a jar to my euphoric rush of finally getting the car I wanted, but it had to happen.
It had to happen because just like my previous car, which I didn’t realize how much I loved it before it was broken beyond repair, I was wayyyy too attached to this new car already. I had made it something too important, too valuable, too precious. (Read: Too much ego—too much me, me, me!)
And so the Universe rushed in to remind me that my beautiful new car was still just stuff. A material good. A liminal object. And it was fixable.
That car is a static thing, no more and no less valuable than how I deem it.
People and experiences are anything but static; they are fluid, energizing and enriching. They evolve us and we grow them. They push and shape us. And they don’t have replacements.
I’d like you to consider what you’re holding on to a bit too much. What are you grasping at and forcing? In what ways can you relax your hold on the things you’ve deemed, perhaps, overly important to who you are? Is it your job title? The stuff in your closet? Your business? What makes that thing so important to you? Would you be less without that thing?
“ The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complex than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.
They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.” ~Henry Beston
It’s fascinating to examine where our thoughts come from--it’s particularly curious if you consider how many thoughts zing around in our brains each day.
A cursory search reveals that researchers report typical people can have up to 80,000 thoughts per day--many of them repetitive. A good portion of them are pretty negative too, if the researchers are on point.
Let’s take this one step further: How do we know when our thoughts are ours and when they’re thoughts or beliefs we’ve simply acquired somewhere along the way? How do you discern the difference? And does it matter?
I believe it matters a great deal where our thoughts originate, likely as much as the sources of our food and water count. A contaminated water source will have an effect on us, as will a nasty food source.
Although thoughts remain intangible, they have great power. They are always the precursors to 1) how one feels and 2) how one behaves.
We’re wise to mind our thinking. Do our thought patterns feel big and energizing, or small and diminishing? If a thought feels small, trace the source back. Where did that suggestion come from? Is it true?
This is not to say we won’t have negative thoughts, but peeking underneath those suggestions, and understanding whether they’re facts or beliefs can make a huge difference in our emotional well being every day.
A crappy thought leads to a crappy feeling and usually, crappy action/behavior. Not good.
Just as an experiment, pay attention to your thoughts and how you experience them for a few days. Notice them all, positive and negative alike. Now trace them to their sources and look for verification of them as facts. If there aren’t facts--hard facts--to back those thoughts up, they’re more than likely just passed-along beliefs.
And guess what? You don’t have to support every belief.
Check your sources friends. Always check your sources.
Came across an article in Fast Company about girls and confidence—interesting that adolescence kicks this in for women.
Here’s a bit of the article:
“Helping girls keep their voices—or, at least, reclaim them sooner—is a daunting task. Cihonski says societal and peer pressures can be overwhelming, making it difficult for parents, teachers, mentors and other role models to prevent this onset of timidity.”
(click here for the full article: http://www.fastcompany.com/3041179/strong-female-lead/how-we-can-help-young-girls-stay-assertive?utm_source=huffingtonpost.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_facebook
The good news? It’s all changeable folks. It’s building new muscles. It’s trying it on. Rolling with it and trusting that by trying—and failing—but trying again—will make all the difference.
If this topic speaks to you, I hope you’ll consider joining us for our “Unbridled Confidence” weekend coming up in April 2015. All the details are on the tab with the same name.
Let’s try. Together
Here's something to ponder: Everything you're believing right now can be re-believed, retooled and retold.
Each of us has baggage we drag from situation to situation throughout our lives. The difference lies in and for the people that take the time to empty those bags and examine the contents. Like a gray matter archaeologist, armed with a longish stick to keep a safe distance from the now unbound material, I want you to take a closer look at what you're seeing and what you're believing about what you're seeing.
Then take a few steps back, ask yourself how many times your ideas about your life have tripped you up, slowed you down, or caused you to un-mindfully repeat painful patterns.
One by one, take a look.
Now, ask yourself: How can I reshape this item in my mind so when it comes up, it's energizing, not demoralizing?
Maybe your story is one of uncaring parents. Flip it around, just for a second. Isn't it also possible-maybe even likely- that their lack of caring molded you into someone who's deeply compassionate? And what are you ready to do with your deep compassion?
Or perhaps your story anchors itself in a narrative about lack and struggle. Isn't it possible that story could be turned into a profile of someone who is deeply committed to succeeding because "things just don't come that easy to me." Furthermore, how might you inspire someone who is currently struggling?
I firmly believe we're in the writer's chair here-every day-and we often miss opportunities to re-write the script the way we want it to read.
So what is your story about you? What are your biggest obstacles that are now just waiting for you to edit the words, streamline the sentences, cut the unnecessary/unhelpful/longwinded. Maybe even change the headline.
And what does it require of you? Your time. Your attention. Your mindfulness, deliberation and work. And a deep commitment to feeling differently about everything that lead you to your current now.
Make yours a story worth retelling to anyone ready to listen. Especially you.
Fascinating read here about modern culture in this recent Atlantic post by Joe Pinsker.
The headline “There’s a dog in this story, so more people will pay attention to it,” propelled me to immediately do exactly that. (And the cute dog sitting in a car in a parking lot only hastened my interest.)
The observation—that has now been studied by academia—is that when a dog is mentioned or highlighted in an article, more people actually read it. Here’s a pull quote from the piece:
“The presence of a dog can effectively propel a story from the back page of The New York Times's National section to the front page.”
So why exactly is that? What draws us so directly to canines, particularly in the cluttered world of the web?
My own theory: Dogs are exceedingly simple, an often missed aspect of living in a complicated, over scheduled culture. They are also by and large pure in their intentions, something we also innately crave as humans. No hidden agendas, no complicated communications. And as many people have pointed out, dogs model unconditional love, something we actually have to work at to manifest in our own lives.
So a good dog story can actually change our moods and remind us of our own potential. A powerful reminder, obviously, for so many people.
What’s holding you back?
My journey with horses is ongoing and fluid—it’s a state of constant learning and evaluation. Each time I work with a horse I learn something about myself, about others and about the world as a whole.
When it’s not hands-on learning with these remarkable animals, it’s reading about the work of people much further up the road than I. I’m currently rereading Zen Mind, Zen Horse—The Science and Spirituality of Working with Horses by Allan J. Hamilton, MD.
This passage from the book stood out for me today:
“Horses are like a band of Legendary Zen masters. They are perfect teachers because they uncover your real motivation. They tell you when you’re wholeheartedly committed or faking it, when you’re making a sacred vow or just paying lip service. Horses see what’s holding you back. And when you find the courage to confront those shortcomings, horses will always reward you with a way to overcome them.”
What might a horse show you?
Photo of Romeo connecting with a client by Margie Fisher at Buffalo Run Farm in Bellefonte, Pa.
personal development and Equus coach, former Penn State journalism instructor and professional writer.