Mythology

It was good to hear their voice. We were catching up on a recent phone call. We are related, have known each other for most of our lives, and it has been a while since we talked. Their voice was familiar but different. Time has a tendency to change things.

Lots of topics. Work, life, and struggles. We spoke of our parents. Resolved and unresolved issues. Loss and times of reconciliation and times when we did not or could not reconcile before the end.

“Things got a lot easier for me when I simply saw my parents as people. People who struggle, not on some pedestal.”

Their reframing was helpful. We also spoke about the stories we heard growing up. The stories that shaped us. Some of the stories were supposed to be inspiring. Some of the stories were supposed to provide a warning. Some stories were for fun. Some stories were more serious. There were always stories.

These collective stories were really part of something else.

Mythology.

Mythology is a set of stories or beliefs about a particular person, institution, or situation, especially when exaggerated or fictitious.

Mythology was exactly what we experienced.

Sets of stories and beliefs.

Exaggerated and fictitious accounts.

Mythology that shaped us, our views, our opinions, and our beliefs.

“People do have a tendency to put themselves (and sometimes others) in the best light.”

This new frame helped us both. We see the Mythology clearly and understand some of the motivation behind it. Attempts to teach, to assist, to cover-up, to deal with pain and issues, to inspire hope in dark times.

We all have Mythology.

Our Mythology shaped us, but it may be fictitious.

Our Mythology might have served us, but it may be time to look beyond those stories.

How has your Mythology limited you and created barriers?

How can recognizing this Mythology help you move forward?

For me, simply recognizing Mythology was a great first step in clearing out some of the mental baggage we all carry.

Thought of

It was a simple text exchange. I was sending a music video and typed those words.

Watched this today and thought of you.

Thought of. Those words stayed with me after the exchange.

Thought of. I began to think of times when others – the important ones – occupy my thoughts.

Thought of. I was reminded of all the times I crossed others’ minds.

Thought of. A fundamental need.

Thought of. Takes many forms.

Thought of. A quick text.

Thought of. A handwritten note.

Thought of. A gift.

Thought of. A call.

Thought of. Taking action when they come to mind.

Thought of. Let’s put this into practice today.

Thought of. Find that one, or two or more and take action.

Thought of. They need to know.

I thought of you when I wrote this.

Perspective

The format of the conversations with clients, friends, and family in the past 22 months changed.

A lot more electronic. A lot less in person. A lot more isolating.

The content of those conversations changed as well.

A lot more struggle. A lot less hope. A lot more isolating.

And something else changed as well.

Perspective.

A lot more emphasis on what is important.

A lot less wasting time on trivial things.

A lot more openness about challenges – internal, relational, and professional.

A lot less pretending that “everything is fine.”

A lot more real.

A lot more open.

A lot more honest.

A lot more wisdom.

One conversation had a nugget of wisdom that I thought I would share. It is profound and open, and inspiring and helped me with perspective. It was during a period of significant struggle.

“No idea what tomorrow has in store. But there is more going well than going badly.”

They laughed when they saw their words on a t-shirt. I had one made for them, and one for me. It was the perspective I needed as well.

Listen closely, there may be some t-shirt worthy wisdom around you as well.

What’s Your Pace?

During a recent dinner with a few friends, the conversation turned towards running. They run. I run. We are all runners. Put a few runners in the same room and talking about running is inevitable.

We started to talk about upcoming runs, past runs, and our favorite routes.

We started to discuss weather and water, getting outside and getting older.

We started, and then the focus shifted.

“What’s your pace?”

Instead of talking about nutrition plans.

“What’s your pace?”

Instead of talking about the mental game of running.

“What’s your pace?”

Instead of talking about why we run and what it means to us.

“What’s your pace?”

Instead of talking about good runs, and bad runs, and the entire running journey.

“What’s your pace?”

It was the narrow and continuous focus that caught my attention. They kept asking, and I kept trying to steer the conversation away. I wanted to know so much more about them and their journey. I wanted to share more about running through my 50’s, trying to remain injury free, and the mental game of running.

Maybe I am the outlier, but I had an advantage that helped me notice what was happening.

Over the past few months, I have been both participating in, and coaching a Mental Fitness program. This program raised my awareness of my own tendency towards an overuse of achievement. This “hyper-achiever” inside me creates a cycle of constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation with a focus on external success.

The conversation’s focus on pace, was triggering this “hyper-achiever” inside me. Combined with my internal narrator (or Judge) who judges myself and others (especially through comparison) wanted to share my pace and talk about my faster runs.

But comparison and competition is not what I want in conversations.

That goes for all conversations, not just the running ones.

What is the alternative?

Recognizing this pattern is the first step. The next step is learning to shift away from these default approaches, and establishing being curious as a practice. This curiosity helps you ask better questions and explore with the other person.

Instead of “What’s your pace?” try a few of these questions:

What are you struggling with?

What have you learned after all these years?

What has been your greatest success?

When do you feel at your best?

How can I help/support you on this journey?

Magic Bonus Question: The AWE question – And what else?

These questions apply to all of our conversations. Being curious and exploring brings us closer instead of creating competition that drives us apart.

For me, pace doesn’t matter, exploring and getting to really know other people brings the real magic.

Interested in improving your Mental Fitness? I have a few spaces remaining for the next group program. Contact me for details.

Tell Them

There are people around us that make our lives better.

The friend who reaches out at the right moment.

The coach who notices something is off and offers an encouraging word.

The partner who makes your favorite meal when you arrive home after a long day.

The running friend who drops you off on the route and carries all your stuff and periodically shows up on the route to offer a “you’ve got this!”

The person who pauses and asks us again, “no really, how are you doing?”

The friend who calls and says “hey I miss you” let’s connect.

The one who reminds you that you are enough, you are special, and you matter.

They are around us.

They make our lives better.

They make a positive impact in our lives.

Sometimes in the midst of our own journey we forget to tell them the impact they have on us.

Sometimes we forget to tell them how important that small gesture was to us.

Sometimes we get so used to their actions that we forget to tell them that they matter.

So as you reflect on those that make such an impact, let’s tell them today.

Pause right now and picture their face and send a text, or make that call, or (even better) write a card or letter and tell them.

Tell them.

Achieving and Grieving

“This could have been better.” – I should have been better.

“It didn’t turnout the way I expected.” – I didn’t do a good enough job.

“I am disappointed in the results.” – I failed.

During a conversation with a friend I noticed a pattern. Whenever they talked about something they achieved, it was immediately followed by reasons why it didn’t either go as planned, or why it could have been better.

This pattern applied to all achievements, big or small.

Released something big and creative into the world? It was not the right time and it could have been better, and it wasn’t perfect, and it had “wrong notes.”

Connected with and helped someone else? It really didn’t go as planned and didn’t really provide any value, it perhaps even wasted their time.

It was as if every time they tried to build a small reminder of their achievement, something would come right behind them and start tearing it down.

They couldn’t take a moment to savor achieving anything, without experiencing a loss. As I spoke it out (despite sounding rhyming and goofy) it rang true.

“You don’t seem to be able to experience any achieving without experiencing a loss, almost like you are grieving at the same time of what could have been, or should have been.

Achieving and Grieving.

Patterns are so easy to recognize…in others.

As a reflected, I experience the same pattern. Trying to celebrate, only to be frustrated and sad when things do not turn out “good enough.”

Some of the grieving of what could have been is easy to shake off, other times it seems to linger in my mind. One particular example has stayed with me longer than I thought.

A little more than a year ago, I got to run a race with one of my kids. I trained hard and was ready. We started off and everything felt good. We joked and chatted. Shortly after the halfway mark, I stared to slow my pace. Something was wrong. During the last few miles I couldn’t keep going and had to walk.

They were totally patient with me and we did a run/walk combination to finally finish. We got our medals and went to the celebration party afterwards.

As I look back, the grieving completely took over any chance of being able to celebrate the achieving. This grieving would find its way into my mind during other runs, and I found myself walking again. The grieving from a prior event kept invading the present.

Unfortunately, the Achieving and Grieving pattern is not exclusive to running.

That presentation that didn’t seem to connect with everyone.

That proposal that was only partially accepted.

The [insert your achievement here] that [insert your grieving here].

Realizing my own Achieving and Grieving pattern was a great first step. Often I failed to celebrate the achievements along this journey because they are viewed through this cloudy lens of grief.

It is time to clean this lens.

It won’t be easy but I am practicing a new pattern.

I am working to separate the Achieving from the Grieving.

When I achieve something, no matter how small, I pause to recognize it.

And since my mind seems to want a second step, I am replacing the Grieving with Appreciating.

Appreciating the work involved in the project.

Appreciating the creativity in that new idea.

Appreciating writing (this blog) again.

Appreciating these 50 year old legs that will still carry me for miles.

Let’s experiment together.

For the next 30 days, let’s try this new pattern: Achieving and Appreciating.

Keep us posted on your progress.