Are there times during the day when you feel tension? Not necessarily stress but a tug and pull between where you want to go and where you are going? If you are human then your answer to these questions is yes…we all deal with tension, that tug and pull throughout the day. It is normal and part of life.
The key is to push through it and learn where it’s coming from. We don’t always have time to stop and write down every thing that is happening in the moment. But hopefully after reading this you will have a couple of tools in your tool belt to deal with it when it shows up in your life.
The very nature of life is tension and release (creation and destruction). Remembering this is central to moving forward in this area. Understanding this is beneficial to navigating life’s moments. Like speaking in front of a group of people, you have to understand your audience and where they are coming from. Guess what? You are the speaker and the audience is yourself! No one talks to us more than ourselves, whether out loud or in our own heads.
You see, often times when tension comes up we stop, afraid that we are doing something wrong. You’re not doing anything wrong! That tension is you wanting to flourish, to shine through all the mess that is going on around you. Does that make sense? You feel tension when you are pushing against something that you’ve never done before or that you are still learning.
For example, when you learn the guitar your fingers experience significant issues during those first few weeks. They aren’t used to bending certain ways, they aren’t used to moving that quickly at times, and they develop blisters from overuse. Your fingers experience tension when you learn how to play the guitar. Is that tension bad? Certainly not! You are bumping up against something that you’ve never done before and are learning something new and challenging. This is the mindset I want you to have when discussing tension.
For today, can you think of any areas you notice tension in your daily life? Areas where it seems like every time you try to move forward you get stuck or something always happens? Take out a journal or a pad of paper and write those down. Be honest with yourself, no one has to see these things but you.
Once those are written down, walk away from the paper for a little while. Do your best to remove yourself from that situation and take care of something else for a while. After an hour or so come back to your list.
On that same paper or on a different page, write down 3 things you can do to move forward in those areas you wrote. 3 things that you can do to push through that tense situation or at least a few ways to look at it differently.
You see, often times we are looking at things through a certain frame of mind without exploring different avenues. Sometimes by just taking a fresh look at something changes everything. That’s what I’m asking you to do here.
So, you have your homework! Think about moments that bring tension, write them down, then explore ways to move forward and/or improve those areas. Remember, tension isn’t a bad thing. Let’s get our there and create!
Many times in this journey called life we get so busy in ‘doing’ that we lose sight of ‘why’ we are doing. Could you sit down right now and write the reasons why you do ________? Fill in that blank with whatever you choose. The answers do not have to be elaborate and deep. I just want you to think about why instead of flying into the day. If you can’t that’s ok, we’ll discuss more about this below.
Each of us are doing what we are doing for a reason. Sometimes its more serious and reflective than others and that’s ok. I believe we all have so many gifts and talents to bring to the table that I get sad when I don’t see people living those out in their daily lives.
Here is a statement that you don’t have to agree with but I want you to take it in and think about it – “It is my responsibility to bring out my talents and gifts to the world.”
Comparison stops you from moving forward and embracing the talents you have been given. That is why it is so important to not let what others think about you crowd out your ‘why.’ If I know why I am doing what I am doing, it doesn’t matter what someone else may think. My why is strong and the driving force, not other people’s opinions. Knowing my ‘why’ also moves me forward even if I go against the cultural norm of the activity or task I’m completing.
For example, I recently lost over 30 pounds eating the Keto diet. This diet is high fat and low carb. There is no sugar allowed. None. Like, I haven’t eaten a piece of fruit in several months. This diet is, in the eyes of many, weird, strange, and not normal. Guess what? I don’t care. My why is bigger than what others may think about how I am eating. I needed a dramatic shift in my thinking regarding sugar and this was the best way I found to do that. Your examples may not be that serious but hopefully your why is just as strong.
The best way to combat this comparison trap and let your gifts shine is by creating anchors. An anchor is solid, heavy, and buried into the ground. It is immovable and will keep your ship from being swayed by the currents of life. Instead of running to the fear and worry, run to your anchors. One of my anchors is my family. No matter what crap life may throw at me during the day, I can rest in the love and support of my family. Its strong and immovable.
Take some time today and write down why are you doing what you are doing. Spend some time finding those anchors. Put those stakes in the ground that are strong and steady. These are your markers, the places you are not moving from no matter what life throws at you. The world needs what you have to offer!
We all need to change our vocabulary. We need to move away from so much negative talk and really focus on the words we use on a daily basis. This is sometimes referred to as transformational vocabulary. Transformational vocabulary sounds like a new age phrase or some fancy term to describe a word. Its not. Its the idea that you can change the words you use, you can turn around how you talk to yourself.
On most days, we interact with people as often through electronics as we do through personal conversation. When this occurs, it usually leaves us being alone with ourselves and our thoughts quite a bit. And you know as well as I do what happens in those cases. If you are like me it becomes a lot of second-guessing myself, a lot of wondering if I’m doing the right thing, and on and on the list goes.
Do me a quick favor as you are reading this. Spend a few minutes writing down as many negative words as you can that you catch yourself saying on a daily basis. Don’t overthink it and don’t try and categorize them, just start writing. For example, some of mine are: can’t, unable to, not qualified, problem, worried, missed. These words are used in multiple settings and in multiple ways throughout the day.
Now, the way we work to remove those words is by not just trying to stop saying them. We need to replace those words with more positive ones. I’ll give you an example. Instead of saying ‘this is hard’, say ‘this is challenging.’ Challenging implies there is a reward at the end while hard is a brick wall. This may be difficult for you as you may not even realize the words you are using on a daily basis. So please take your time and come back to this later if it isn’t working for you today. No worries on that!
The idea here is to capture how you talk to yourself, how you really view yourself when no one is around. We beat ourselves up all the time and most of the time we don’t even realize it is happening! Let me give you another example from me.
I went all the way through high school, undergraduate, and graduate school telling myself I was a procrastinator. Well guess what would happen any time a project was due? That’s right, I’d put it off until the last minute. I’m a procrastinator so why would I do it early? The problem with that is I am not a procrastinator. I was believing something about myself that simply wasn’t true.
My true personality traits, my true self is actually a very organized and detailed person. I hate being late. In fact, I’m usually 10 minutes early to everything. By beating myself up with false words I was not living out of my true identity and being myself.
Its not easy but it is necessary. I challenge you to take this to heart and see the impact the words you are using are having on your daily life. Changing that vocabulary will be powerful for you and those around you. Give it a try!
If you were asked to speak in front of a group of people, would that create some tension for you? Would you start to sweat and wonder how you got in this situation? Would you say no to the invitation as fast as humanly possible?
Why? Perhaps you don’t think of yourself as a good speaker. Maybe you just don’t like being the center of attention (or so you tell yourself) and would rather sit back and watch someone else. Maybe you are simply afraid and don’t want to step out of your comfort zone. Guess what? All of those reasons, and any others you can think of are perfectly normal. We’ve all been there in many situations, some much less dramatic than public speaking.
My thought for you today is this…how do we continue to learn and grow when situations like those above present themselves? How can we move through something that may be uncomfortable and unenjoyable? You see, we all deal with instances every day that are not necessarily fun. I mean, life can be challenging sometimes.
One way we can continue to learn and grow is through questions. Good questions can be instrumental in getting to the root of an issue and/or learning through some experience.
What are you currently working on that has lost its positive feelings? Is there something that used to be a ton of fun but now is dragging you down? Maybe its the new job that isn’t going as well as hoped. Maybe its a project that seems like it will never end. Maybe its a financial goal. Maybe you’ve been asked to do something out of your comfort zone like our above example. Whatever it is, take that thing through the following questions.
1) Where’s the best place to put my energy?
2) How can I continue momentum?
3) What’s great about this?
4) How can I enjoy this process even more?
Do you notice something in questions 3 and 4? Its a focus on gratitude and not fear. In those difficult moments, I want us to practice replacing fear with gratitude. Learn to appreciate the challenges as they come and work hard to move through them. Yes life is challenging. Yes there are things that absolutely kick us in the teeth, sometimes on a daily basis. I do believe that we can learn from them.
There was a point with the item you chose that was enjoyable. There was a moment when you felt like time stood still and you worked for hours. For me it is writing. I have a book I’ve been working on for 2 years. Rough draft is done but the edits have been taking me a long time because I forgot why I started writing in the first place. I took my book through the above questions and came out the other side with a better understanding of why I wanted to write it in the first place. Those answers will be the key to pushing through the mess.
Remember, you can do this! We all struggle with things so there is nothing wrong with you. Stop, take some time, and ask some questions.
There is a lot of noise in our world today. And unlike the phone pictured below (some of you don’t even remember having something like that in your house!) it is not always loud and obvious.
We are being pulled in every direction and at the end of the day, we often wonder what we accomplished. Ever feel that way? Ever feel like you worked hard all day, you were ‘going, going, going’ all day, and yet felt empty when you laid in bed that night?
Believe me, I have felt that way on many occasions. There has been so much noise in my daily life that the things I wanted to do, the things I needed to do simply fell by the wayside. So, since that is the case for most of us, how do we fix it?
Well, I would offer a few thoughts. One, you are letting other people dictate your time. And two, you are not happy with the choices you are currently making. What do I mean? We all have 24 hours in a day and we all make choices on how to fill those hours. Whether you agree with me or not the truth is you choose to do those things that take up the time in your day. Now, its obvious that some of those choices are more important than others but they are still choices nonetheless.
I want you to just think about those two things above and see how it makes you feel. Is it uncomfortable? Do you disagree with what I am saying? Are you angry at me for saying those things?
Well, I have been dealing with those two issues for the past few months myself. I still struggle daily with each of them, and find myself mad that my day ended and I didn’t get anything done. Oh, I got plenty done but it was nothing I wanted to do. Its hard and I’m not asking you to smile and nod and say I’m right. I’m simply asking you to stop and think about how you spend your day.
The noise will always be there. The key is to cut through it and move forward with purpose and direction in your life. Like most of us have cut the cord to those old school phones, you need to make a very direct and actionable statement.
I want each of you to be happy in the choices you are making and live each day to the fullest. There will always be things to do and tasks to complete. What do you say we each make a concentrated effort to understand those tasks, where they are coming from, and how best to move forward each day. Make today the day you decide to take control of your schedule!
If this is something that resonates with you let me know. I’d be happy to help in any way I can in this area.