Emotional Baggage Check

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(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)

A few of us were talking about how to best prepare for an upcoming event.

You know the type of event: the one with lots of people getting together, both family and friends.

As fun as these events can be, stress and other pressures seem to also arrive whenever lot of people gather in one place.

Half joking, we developed a plan.

“What if we created an emotional baggage check. You know, when people arrive, we could have them check their emotional baggage at the door.”

We all laughed, but then it hit us. What if we really did this? What if this emotional baggage check worked?

How could it work?

  1. When you arrive at the event, you are given a card, and numbered envelope, and a pen.
  2. You write down on the card any difficult or hard emotions that you are carrying into the event.
  3. You place the card in the envelope and exchange it for a corresponding numbered ticket.
  4. You attend the event emotional baggage free.
  5. When the event ends, you have the choice of claiming your emotional baggage, or leaving it behind. (Any envelopes left behind are burned and buried.)
  6. Repeat steps one through three as many times as needed.

We are emotional creatures. Those emotions sometimes disrupt events and relationships, even when we try to keep these emotions to ourselves.

Instead of keeping those emotions bottled up, perhaps the physical act of writing down and checking the emotional baggage is enough to give us a needed break from those challenging or difficult emotions.

And who knows? Once we experience events without those emotional responses, it may feel good enough that we won’t pick them back up.

Hating Salmon and Lemon Squares

“He hates Salmon.”

“He hates Lemon Squares.”

“He is grumpy if he doesn’t eat.”

“He is grumpy if woken from a nap.”

“He [insert event, either one time or a repeated event that happened, and form a hard-wired rule about the person despite the passage of time, even years].”

There was a time when I didn’t really like eating salmon. You know the poached (was it boiled?) kind smothered in a creamy sauce with dill.

Rule #1: Carl hates salmon.

There was a time when desserts in general were not my favorite, I am more of a savory person, and since periodically I may be training for something or trying to lose weight, sweets of any kind are not my friend.

Rule #2: Carl hates lemon squares.

Years later, the remnants of those rules still appear. People are surprised when I eat Salmon (grilled and savory is my favorite) or take a bite of a lemon square.

The preferences at that moment were not meant to create a hard-wired rule.

The preferences were a snapshot in time.

But, times change.

And people change.

We think we know them.

We think they are the same.

We think we had it right.

How many times have these hard-wired rules created obstacles between us?

How many times have these snapshots been held up as a representation of us?

Be careful of the hard-wired rule trap.

You have changed, and so have the people around you.

P.S. I am also not always grumpy because I am hungry or when I wake from a nap, sometimes I am just grumpy.

The Illogical Path

We get jobs. We work in a particular field.

We move on, either by our choice or others.

We are faced with a choice.

We can follow the logical path. Stay in or close to our field. Connect with our network. Find something similar.

Or

We can follow the illogical path. Try something radical. Move outside of comfort. Apply the lessons and skills from one industry to another. Go work for ourselves.

During a recent breakfast discussion, as I listened to the plan for the new career, the new job, the new approach, and most of it was on the logical path.

They know people, they have experience, so they keep following the logical path.

It made sense. I kept listening.

“It all makes sense to me. But (pause) what if you spent 25% of the time you are planning to spend down the logical path in a different direction? What if you scheduled one-quarter of this effort down the illogical path?”

Throughout the rest of the conversation, it was fun to notice their body language and tone of voice. Whenever they spoke of something on the illogical path, they lit up. They leaned in, they were excited.

I shared a story about a close friend who is a writer. For most of their career, they found jobs writing. It was the logical path.

But the logical path, the seemingly safe choice, had its price. They were not very satisfied.

The writer friend recently followed the illogical path. They now have this weird hard-to-describe job that is cool, challenging, and new (frankly this job sounds super-spy like so I like to pretend that I am meeting with a spy when we have breakfast).

Which path are you following?

Sometimes the illogical path may be worth taking.

The Efficiency Expert

They are in every organization. They look at your process, workflow, or procedures and wonder why you are doing things that way.

They scan the world and see what you cannot see: wasted time, wasted effort, wasted energy.

They may be perceived as complaining, but they are not. They are trying to maximize the return for their own time and others.

They are the ones close enough to the action, the actual work, to understand where it can improve.

You may feel threatened, especially if you created the original way or process.

You may not be doing the work anymore, and are not close enough to find better ways.

You may need to listen, and let them help you.

I have my own personal Efficiency Expert.

She is the youngest of four.

Sometimes I misinterpret her motives as complaining or procrastination, but she doesn’t want to waste time or energy.

She finds better ways of doing routine tasks.

She challenges the old way, my way, and many times finds a better way.

The Efficiency Expert - Dishes

“You need to unload the dishwasher.”

“Ok, but this takes so much time.”

“Unload the dishwasher.”

“Ok, but this takes so much time…and I have an idea for next time. Why don’t we all put the silverware together in the same little bin instead of just dumping it in all mixed up.”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“Because just putting it in randomly seems like no big deal until you have to unload and put the silverware away. If we all spent a little more time loading the dishwasher, unloading becomes so much easier and faster. The silverware is already pre-sorted and you just have to pick it up and put it away.”

“You are amazing!”

“I know.”

The Efficiency Expert is in your home, office, or workplace. They can help you and the whole organization when you learn to listen.

Strong, but Not Bitter

Strong, But Not Bitter

I like coffee. I like strong coffee.

I like strong coffee roasted in small batches by someone I know.

I like strong coffee served in a skull mug that was hand crafted in a wood-fired kiln by someone who I also know.

I like strong coffee with names like “demon roast” and “sinful delight.”

Coffee has become somewhat of a ritual for me. The morning starts and I love the sounds that our coffee maker makes.

Strange bubbly, dripping, awesomeness.

The house is filled with tempting dark aromas.

I wait for that “beep” that indicates that the lovely brew is ready to be consumed, and my day begins.

When describing this coffee ritual to a friend, they had a similar coffee ritual. We both savor the dark brew, but it came with a qualifier.

“I like coffee when it is strong, but not bitter.”

A pause in the conversation.

“Maybe that is a good way to think about our life’s journey. We become strong, because of the struggles, adversity, or obstacles, but it doesn’t make us bitter.”

Another pause.

The lesson sank in.

My coffee ritual has taken on new meaning. The process is the same. The same sounds come from the device. The same aromas fill our house.

But, as that first sip passes my lips, I remember those words.

Strong, but not Bitter.

What a great reminder and goal for our lives.

 

More Flexible, Less Fear

The other day someone asked me to describe my two biggest goals in life. Once I got over the “Hey, I thought this was going to be a casual conversation!” I spent some time thinking about my response.

The reply didn’t come right away, as my mind raced between what I wanted to do and/or achieve and what I wanted to leave behind or be remembered for…then it hit me.

Two simple goals:

1. Be more flexible.

2. Have less fear.

More Flexible. I have noticed something as we progress through life. We tend to become stiff and rigid. This can be physically, mentally, or emotionally. We don’t stretch as often. We stop trying new things. We want things a certain way. We believe certain things. We know we are right and are not afraid to express that view. We have history with others. We hold grudges.

This goal provides a simple reminder. Am I getting stuck? Am I getting stiff? Am I responding and being closed off to new ideas, new activities, or new adventures? Recently I have been trying Yoga as a way to become more flexible physically, and starting to read a variety of books, or articles that may challenge my strongly held opinions. I initially felt resistance to both, but in time, both are becoming more natural.

Less FearLife is pretty ironic. When I was younger with less resources, less experience, and less opportunity, there was little fear. As resources, experience, and opportunity have grown, so has a corresponding fear.

This goal is the other important reminder. What am I afraid of? What is the worst that could happen? What is the cost of not trying these new things? Having this conversation with myself or others helps move me from inaction to action.

I am glad they asked me about my two biggest goals.

Two simple goals.

More Flexible.

Less Fear.

These two goals have become a kind of mantra for me.

Simple enough to remember, yet effective enough to keep me moving.

Now the question is passed to you.

What are your two biggest goals in life?

We all look forward to your answer.

The Less Than Default Switch

After hearing similar narratives during different coaching sessions, a pattern became clear.

Different people, same narratives.

Different issues, same descriptions.

Different positions, same struggles.

“I want to write, I would love to write, but I am not good enough compared to him/her.”

“Other people in the office seem to have their act together, but not me.”

“I am not as [insert word here] as her/him.”

“That [job, career, relationship, achievement] is for someone else, not me.”

“I’m sorry…[not always for anything specific, but a response to lots of circumstances or conflicts, even when they are not at fault].”

An image of a switch came to my mind. A switch buried deep within their being that was stuck on the Less Than setting by default.

Neutral Switch_Less than

The Less Than Default Switch.

No matter what actually is occurring in their lives, the switch in this position interprets them as being Less Than others. When they achieve something great, accomplish a goal, or create something amazing, the switch discounts all of it.

Even worse, when thinking about trying something new, striving for a goal, or being creative, the Less Than Default Switch short-circuits the motivation to try.

I mentioned the switch.

Surprise. Revelation. A few tears.

“Just for a moment, imagine that switch. See it in the Less Than position…Now, turn the switch to Neutral.”

Understanding.

“Just think about what you could do, accomplish, try, achieve, create, or pursue now that your switch is in the Neutral position.”

Hope.

Neutral Switch

Listen, to yourself and those around you. If your Less Than Default Switch is active, go ahead and give that knob a turn. Move it to Neutral. If someone around has the switch on Less Than, help them move their knob as well.

Over time, Neutral can become your new default setting.

No more discounting.

No more comparison.

Just you; allowing your gifts, talents, creativity, and art to flow.