I read a lot of articles on productivity, personal development and all that jazz. More accurately, I naively see a great title, start to read the article, and then find its the same thing over and over. I’ve learned that the more the title promises, the more the article disappoints. I’ve learned that the title is like a label on a bottle, and that the article is the actual formula. There are a lot of labels promising eternal youth, a cure for what ails you and super strength. There are article titles telling you that if you just do these two things something remarkable happens. They tell you that they have something astounding to tell you, and that in just few paragraphs you’ll have this tidbit of wisdom that will Change Your Life Forever.
The raising and the dashing
Over and over again, my hopes are raised by just a few words and then four minutes later dashed on the craggy rocks below – shattered and disbursed by the crashing waves that laugh as they smash into whatever little fragments of hopes are left, absorbing them into the salty cold waters below.
Such is the life of someone searching for answers, unabashedly open to the wisdom of others.
So, you can imagine how I approach doing the same thing: making a promise in a title and then delivering something tangible in the body. My labels may not be as exciting with New and Improved and You’ve Never Seen This Before but the formulae is solid.
When I say these two things will make a huge difference, I mean it. When I say I’ve identified a cork that you can pull out to allow stuff to happen I mean it. And I’m not asking for you to Try This For Only 200 Days. No, try it for a day. Try it in the morning, see what happens an hour later. Yeah, I made that bold because you’re lazy and were just skimming. Ha. Gotcha.
The label: Dread
Motivational people talk about a lot of things. I’m just going to talk about two things I’ve identified that make a big difference – this time we will deal with dread.
Dread is the feeling that you don’t want to do something. When you think about it you say “ugh” and have this flight or fight reaction. More accurately it’s a leave-your-house, do-something-else, procrastinate reaction. Maybe tomorrow, oh look it’s Friday how about Monday?
We have all done this, a number of times.
Doubt is when you are unsure of your actions. It is not so much that you are unsure of the outcome, you are actually just unsure that you are doing the right thing. Since you can’t seem to figure out what the right thing is (due to your feelings of inadequacy, or lack of information, or feeling that the person you are dealing with is just so nuts) you shake your head and essentially freeze. It’s paralysis by analysis.
People who write motivational books focus on doubt. They tell you to execute, they tell you that it is all in the follow through, they tell you that this basketball player made x number of shots but missed x * 1,000 shots too. They tell you that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. That’s exhausting just reading that.
But you can’t just tell someone to stop doubting, because you’re ignoring the reason for the doubt, silly. And if you don’t ignore the reason you might end up imparting tangible useful items to your readers/listeners.
Here’s what to do about dread
So here’s what to do. You don’t need to do it for a year, or a month, or a week. You can actually try it one morning. This will only work on a day that you are experiencing dread and or doubt. if you aren’t then there’s nothing to do. So, on a day that you are dreading something, doubting what do do in a situation or both do the following.
Take a breath and allow yourself to feel the dread, just let it wash over you so that you can fully agree that you are dreading a thing. Yes really. You have to feel it for this to work. Focus on what the thing is. Is it talking with a client, or an employee, your boss, spouse, boyfriend or teenager? Now that you know what you are dreading, ask yourself why. That should be obvious – “Because they will yell at me!” “Because they are so crazy and this will just explode and get worse” “Because they always react negatively.” “Because…”
Now take the next step. Play it out in your mind. When you do this thing, do you feel that it is the proper thing to do? In other words, are you doing what you feel is right in the situation?
Yes? I’m pausing here because it’s important. You have to play it out and believe that what you are doing is the right thing. Take your time and feel it.
Once you agree that what you are doing is correct, and not fueled or tainted by things like spite, anger, disrespect or other things that are not who you really are – you can then play out their reaction.
You’ve now removed any guilt, bad feelings and anything else that divided you about this interaction.
One of two things now happen. Because the person controlling the play in your head (you) is on board with what you are doing, you will see the interaction in your head as being less emotional and more normal. You may even see the other person reaction a bit more plausibly and realistically.
“Huh, that’s not a big deal, that is the right thing and oh well if they don’t like it. It really is reasonable” your brain says.
Now, go back to the feeling of dread. Is it still there? Or did it dissolve? If I’m right, then it disolved.
Next time we will deal with doubt..
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