Hey there Warriors! We’re mid-way into September already! How’s this month going for you? At the end of August we spoke of pausing to think of what we wanted to feel like at the end of September and how we wanted the school year to go. We then thought of what we needed to do to make that happen. For example:
- If you wanted to feel energized and alert, you would schedule a week of exercise and prioritize your sleep.
- If you wanted to feel frantic and overwhelmed, you would go to every school meeting, say yes to every request to serve on a committee, and check Facebook at least once each day.
- If you want the month to feel managed and peaceful, you’d choose opportunities to help at school that are in alignment with your talents and interests and say no to the rest.
- If you wanted to feel connected to your family and like home is an oasis, you would schedule your days so that there would be tech-free time, work-free time, and schedule consistent dates with your mate.
If you didn’t start the month with a plan for how you wanted the month to go, do not despair. It is never too late. If you started the month with a plan for how the month would go and you’re so far away from that vision you are laughing out loud, again, do not despair. It is never too late. Heck, if you started today with a vision of how the day would be and you’ve already reacted to your husband and 2 of your kids, it’s not too late for a different ending. Every minute that we are alive is a minute that we can change our day, our week, our month, or our life. Truly. Today is as good a day as any to start making intentional choices that line up with our values and our vision of a happy life.
It is my experience as a mom and as a coach that we start with good intentions but get derailed by signing up for things we don’t really want to do. Why do we do this? Because we think we have a superpower we don’t have. We think we can manage people’s minds. We think that if we say yes to joining ‘her’ committee she’ll think a certain way of us. Or, we think that if we say no to a classroom responsibility, the teacher or other parents will think a certain way about us. So what do we do? We try to manage their minds. We try to get in their heads and control what they’re thinking. Hum….last time I checked this was impossible. Add to that, I have a hard enough time managing my own thoughts – let alone trying to manage someone else’s! Let’s back up a bit so we can craft a month and year that is in alignment with our needs, values, and goals.
Having a life that we love is rooted in our ability to manage our emotions and stepping away from trying to manage others’ emotions. In order to do this, we must have a basic understanding of how our brain works. We have 60-80,000 thoughts a day. We feel a certain way depending on which of those 60-80,000 thoughts that we focus on. We act, react, or don’t act based on those feelings that we’re feeling. Our life is a result of the actions, inaction or reactions that we take. Boom – that’s it. Emotional Intelligence 101.
This is hugely helpful because once we understand that we are in charge of how we feel, we can be proactive in managing the feelings we feel. How? By choosing which thoughts to focus on. We do not feel a certain way because of things that happen. We feel a certain way based on the thoughts we think about the things that happen in our lives.
How do I know this is true? Say you wake up tomorrow and it’s pouring rain. What do you think about that? You might think of how your kids will get to use their new umbrellas. You might think of how your dog is going to get wet on your walk. You might think of how the soccer game will be cancelled tonight. You might think of how the flowers will get the rain they’ve needed. You will feel differently based on which thoughts you choose to focus on. For example, if you think the kids will get to use their new umbrellas you might feel pride because you remembered to replace their lost umbrellas. If you think of how the soccer game will be cancelled tonight you might feel relief as you have a busy day and were not looking forward to the late game. Or, when you think of how the soccer game will be cancelled tonight you might feel disappointment as you were looking forward to watching your son play his new position. If you think of the dog getting wet, you might feel dread because you don’t like drying off smelly, wet dogs. If you think of the flowers getting wet, you might feel happy because you love flowers.
It is not the circumstance of your life (the rain) that makes you feel a certain way. It is your thoughts about that circumstance. This is wonderful news as, not only does it put you in charge of how you feel each day, it also allows you to step back from trying to control how others feel since we can’t control which thoughts they think.
Brief pause for some recap questions (and answers):
Where do our feelings come from? (our thoughts)
Can we make someone else feel a certain way? (Nope)
Can someone else make us feel a certain way? (Nope)
Most want to argue the last two. I know I did. I really thought that the things in my life were making me feel a certain way. Come on, isn’t my son responsible for me feeling pissed when he didn’t do the dishes? Or come on, I thought that I could sign up for her committee and have her think I was such a helpful mom. Sorry. You do not have the superpower to get inside someone else’s head and they aren’t able to get in yours. You are feeling the way you feel because of the thoughts you’re focusing on. They are feeling the way they feel based on the thoughts they’re focusing on.
We can not control what others think and others can not control how we feel. No, your mother in law doesn’t feel sad because you said the kids couldn’t come over last night. She feels sad because of her thoughts about the kids not coming over. No, you don’t feel guilty because you said no to the girls night out. You feel guilty about your thoughts about saying no.
We’re all much better off when we play the adult in our life. Choose to manage your emotions and let everyone else manage theirs. I used to say yes to things because I worried what others would think. It is freeing to step back and allow them to think what they want as I can’t control it anyways. What can I control? What I think and I think a lot more empowering thoughts when I say yes to things I enjoy and no to things I do not.
If you have been using the two tools I discussed in my first blog from September then I imagine you’re feeling pretty damn good and in control of your days. If you haven’t been using them, hey, why not start today? We can’t control most of what happens around us but with intentional living we get to control what happens inside of us.
Start fresh, start now. Every day is a new beginning and an opportunity to start again. Do not wait until October 1st or, gasp, next September to craft a life you want to be living. If you went crazy and signed up for too many committees, pick up the phone and back out. If the voice in your head says “What will they think?” remind yourself they will think whatever they choose to think and there’s not a thing you can do about it. What can you control? What you’ll think. How about choose to think of how you’ll have more time to ask yourself what you will think when you’re so strung out you yell at your kids each day? Stand up for yourself and your needs: Back out of anything you signed up for that, when you think of doing it, you feel overwhelmed or stressed. There is someone better for that job out there and you’er taking their spot. Re-read or watch my blog from last week. You are the sun in your family’s solar system. Protect your energy and prioritize what’s important to you. Shine out Warrior. It’s time.
Susie this article served as the corner stone for a heated discussion I was having with someone. They had misinterpreted something I wrote. I gave them your rain example and how they choose to misinterpret my comments. I then asked them what are other interpretations for my comments and they came up with three, including theirs and mine. Very powerful. They then accepted my original intent. Thanks for helping us become more emotionally intelligent!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the resulting growth. Sometimes when I jump to a conclusion that’s not helpful, I ask myself: “What are alternative explanations?”. Sounds like you walked your co-worker through this to a successful end result. Yay!