Category Archives: Uncategorized

Money Strata

We all have beliefs about money that we cling to, and when those beliefs get challenged, our reality also gets challenged.  One of the fundamental, and in many ways “unspoken” beliefs about money has to do with the “socio-economic strata” that you and your family belong to.

There are places in the world where which level of society you belong to is crucial.  For example, England still has the House of Lords.  Other places practice less obvious but equally strident categorizing.  I noticed when I lived in the South that the first question I was asked by new acquaintances was what housing development I lived in.  The answer to this question told people what strata to put me in.

We like to think of ourselves as a “democratic” society, and in many ways we are.  But when it comes to neighborhoods—and money—we have many levels.

There is an exceptionally strong internal compass to stay in our lane, and certainly to not rock the boat!

What if the only thing that actually kept us in our class or strata was the belief that a given strata was somehow where we belonged?  Guess what?  That belief is the only thing that really does keep us there, and it’s incredibly powerful.  There are amazing statistics about people who win the lottery being back to the financial status they were in before winning within just a few years.  Mismanagement and lack of financial acumen can be part of that, but I think it’s much more about being pushed into a money “strata” you don’t understand and aren’t sure how to fit into.  These people somehow feel they don’t belong in the new place, so they find ways to sabotage themselves right back to where the came from, to where they think they “belong”.  I remember once being reluctant to buy a house in a particular neighborhood.  The voice inside my head said: “You’d have to get dressed and put on makeup to get the mail!”  Definitely a step above my comfort zone.

Mostly, when we step outside of the norm, what comes with that stepping is a disruption of the old systems.  Part of what holds many families together are common beliefs and practices around money.  Many Depression Era families are proud of their ability to “keep body and soul together”.   Being able to “get through the hard times” is a part of how they see and value their family.  If someone in the family goes off and suddenly “makes good”, what does that say about the ones left behind?  It might just say that they could have chosen differently too!  And wouldn’t that be awkward?  What if everyone had a choice?

In what ways does your “strata” keep you stuck, and what would you choose if you could?  Have you even thought about how your clan and class keep you from pursuing new ideas?  What if you could decide what you wanted, and go after it?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to explore the challenge of your Money Strata give me a call  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

Surviving SPAM – A Lot!

I’d really love for this to just be a bad Jeopardy category title — unfortunately it’s not!  It’s more a hard-won cautionary tale.

By now we ALL are up to our butts in daily SPAM, phishing, and other nasty email stuff.  I actually tracked it, and in February I received over 3000 emails that exemplify this.  Yes, my spam filter goodies caught many of them, and I am now I am also adept at using ‘ignore’ and ‘junk’, not just ‘delete.’

Today’s story is a more twisted tale about my receiving lots of unwanted email.  It’s about being inundated with ‘blog comments’ that aren’t comments.  They are sales pitches, weird things, and some were even in cyrillic!  This all started in January, and frankly it was driving me nuts!

I contacted my techno/puter genius and he came up with a solution to solve the problem.  It was all about having people ‘sign in’ to the blog before leaving a comment, thus avoiding the robotic messy spammers.  I would still maintain control on accepting their ‘membership’ in the blog, and approving their posts.  I thought all was good…little did I know!

I didn’t really notice that I hadn’t had any sign-ups or comments until someone emailed me directly with a comment and mentioned that they couldn’t figure out how to leave a comment on the blog.  Our next step was to include some language that we thought would clarify the process.  After that I asked a couple of trusted friends to try it out.  They got mired and stuck in it.  Ouch!

Only then did I remember a very crucial thing — to not make it hard for fans or clients to engage with me!  I’ve had some past experience in having clients irritated with me, when technology beyond my control wasn’t ‘friendly’, and certainly didn’t want to repeat that in any way!

It was about this time that I remembered that I had leapt in to the ‘apparent’ issue without really getting to the core problem first.  We all do that, we are trained to do that.  I remember when I was first exposed to working in a company, that the ‘rule’ was to not bring a problem to your manager without also having a solution for it.  Old habits die hard, and even though I now know better, the pressure of being uber spammed had me ‘regress under stress’, and my puter person had taken that stress at face value.  Oops!

As I got back to the core issue, which was making it easy for real people to leave a comment, the clouds started to part.

There was a fundamental flaw in my initial interpretation of the flood of spamsters fussing on my blog.  I thought it was because of the huge increase in this stuff I was experiencing everywhere.  I was wrong.  Turns out that a handy app/plugin named Akismet was the culprit. I knew I had this and assumed it was something that was free for everybody…after all, I’ve had the website for a while now.  And on WordPress it said that the software was ‘up to date’.  What I finally discovered, with the brilliant insight of my tech person, was that the software was up to date, but the license wasn’t!  Really!  Yipes!  God forbid that should be made clear to those of us that don’t speak fluent programmer-gab!

Makes sense though, everything went whacking in January.  It probably was when the previous license expired or a free trial ended.  And then all hell broke loose.  And near as I can tell no one ever notified me that I had it on a trial, or that the trial period or license had expired.

So now things are all good.  You don’t have to ‘join’ anything to leave a message.  No passwords for commenters.  No confusion for my readers.  I have paid for a year of magic Akismet.  It is catching and marking as SPAM about 20 ‘comments’ a day from the bad guys…yippee!

It cost some money, took way too much time, disrupted some clients, and probably caused some general consternation that I don’t even know about for some people.

Sometimes, I must admit, I do wonder if all this ‘progress’ is really worth it?  And in hindsight, I do appreciate the reminder — or perhaps we should call it “swift kick in the arse”— to dig deeper around what the issue really is before I leap into a solution!

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to kvetch about SPAM give me a call  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

The Big Secret About Getting Fired

Throughout my life there have been many times when I feel like Cassandra.  She was a Greek prophetess cursed by Apollo so that her prophecies, though true, were fated never to be believed.  For me it has often been about stating what I felt was obvious and having others look at me like I’d just landed from some other planet.

One of those areas in which I notice I have a really different perspective is ‘why people get fired.’  It looks like they got fired because they made mistakes, embezzled from the company, or didn’t do the job effectively.  My experience in corporate land says that’s not so.

Before I detail this out let me say that I’ve only been fired once, from my very first job.  I have, however, fired people, seen others being fired, and heard a myriad of stories from friends and clients about being fired.  I know this really isn’t about Money, and yet I keep running into this with clients.  My point is to expose that this does happen, and warn you so you don’t get caught in it yourself.

You may have a very different opinion, and here’s what I notice: What gets you fired is not really about the work you do, or don’t do.  It’s how you fit in the culture of the company.  It about whether or not the people in power like you—and by the way, those people may not be in the top slots on the org chart!  It’s a system thing.  Are you a fit?  Or do you stand out?

In many ways, a Company—just like a Country—has a personality.  In order to fit in and be successful you need to align with that personality.  If you don’t, you won’t last.

Oh,  they will find a more plausible reason to let you go than that you don’t fit.  But nevertheless, it will really be that you just don’t fit.

In my experience if you get hired and really aren’t competent at the job you will be let go within a short time—six months or less.  If you’ve been there awhile and somehow now they don’t like you, and you are sensing impending doom, know that it’s about  that you don’t fit in the current culture, or perhaps in where the culture is going.

The irony is that NO ONE actually talks about this.  Thus my Cassandra thing!  I worked in various Corporate lands from 1970 to 2000 and found this to be present everywhere.  As a manager I admit that I would find other issues/mistakes to come up with a viable reason for firing the person.  They were all true and valid.  However the real reason was that they just didn’t fit.

If someone fit in the culture those mistakes would be forgiven or overlooked.  If you don’t fit you aren’t forgiven.  Certainly in some ways this is awful, it’s like cliques in High School.  And it’s what is happening.

So my suggestion is to look for kindred spirits and places you ‘fit’ as a person, as much as you look for a job that suits your skills.  It’s no fun to stay where we don’t fit, and it’s more than likely not worth the money however much it is.

And if you are in a place that you did fit, and somehow the culture has changed, dig deeper and see if your being suddenly always in trouble, or let go has to do with that… there may be some financial compensation for you if the game has changed.  For example if you recently got a raise or a promotion, and then get transferred to another boss who fires you, there is something else going on—something for which you may be able to get some compensation.

Bottom line — fitting in is often way more important than being competent.  Just sayin’

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to chat about Cassandra things of your own, or how to navigate these ‘not performance based’ problems give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Small Change?

What if both the idea of change, and its implementation could be less taxing than we imagine?  Actually not change as in coins, but change as in the verb.  Let’s explore that!

All sorts of things in life can be intimidating.  As humans we particularly like habit and routine.  It’s easier than looking at everything with “new” eyes all the time, truly!  So perhaps our inherent ‘risk aversion’ has gotten tangled up with an aversion to change?

Additionally our handy, dandy Inner Critics make change seem daunting and scary.  They tell us that all sorts of bad and complicated things will happen.  Then they tell us that we can’t change, that it’s too hard to change, that we aren’t capable of change—over and over and over again.

And big change is challenging, and arduous, I agree.  The new question is: “what if it’s actually about small change, instead of big change?”  Radical idea, eh?

One client I’m working with is in the midst of the discovery that you don’t have to change everything to be more effective.  A small change can be very effective on many levels.

Here’s an idea to embrace.  We don’t actually have to start over from scratch, we may just want to tweak things a bit!  We each have unique talents and strengths.  We are each a unique compilation of possibilities.  There is strength and value in that uniqueness.  Getting more effective results is more about small changes than trying to start from scratch.   Additionally if you try to change ‘everything’ about yourself, you are actually more likely to zoom right past and thus keep the part that’s not working, leaving it still not working.

When you lean on the support of what you are good at, it’s much easier to shift or change the parts that aren’t working well.   You are coming from strength, which is really effective.  One of the crucial aspects to making small changes work comes down to figuring out where the ‘sticky part’ is!

What I’m really trying to say here is that you don’t have to crawl through broken glass or become a different person to find more fulfillment or inner peace.  It’s more about narrowing in on small changes that can have a big impact.

Those changes are mostly around what we make up!   We make up stuff about:

  • How we are ‘supposed’ to be
  • What others want or need from us
  • What others think about us
  • How we judge ourselves

Which all comes down to a large pile of judgement (Inner Critic) which makes changes look big, hard, scary, and downright impossible.  And yet some changes are truly just small shifts.  Now those small shifts that make a big difference often seem to be in the land of boundaries.  Remember those?  Those handy little fences that manage everyone’s expectations!

So how about experimenting with making some small changes, and setting some simple boundaries between yourself and others?  What might happen then?  Oh and what might you do with those super talents of yours if you had a wee bit less distraction and judgement circling you?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to explore just what boundaries to set where give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Perfection is a Money Trap

Money is one of those areas where we have all made some mistakes.

  • We have bought things that didn’t work.
  • We have spent too much money on stuff we never used.
  • We have given people presents they didn’t like.
  • We have lost money on the sale of a house
  • We have gotten “taken to the cleaners” in a divorce.
  • We have run up charges and interest on our credit cards.

And yet we are mostly still here, and kicking!

Sure some of these things were and are avoidable.  And yet they also still serve to give our Inner Critic great fodder for berating us!

There are a couple of things I want to clear up about these ‘errors in judgement‘ and ‘mistakes‘ we all make with our money.

First, you got through them !  The problems may have been messy and costly, but you survived them!  It’s one of the things I think our ancestors that went through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl got trapped in.  They somehow missed that they made it through the troubles, and that they didn’t happen again in the same way.  We tend to practice “one trial learning” with many things.  We tend to either try and hide our head in the sand or decide it will always be like it was, and avoid getting anywhere near the part we think is scary.  We stay trapped.

The other thing I’d really like my readers to consider is the value of the messing up.  Huh, you say!  How can there be value in having gone through that terrible time, that mess?

It’s all about learning!  As humans we actually learn by making mistakes, by being imperfect.  You don’t just get on a bike and ride it the first time.  You wobble and pedal and fall off.  The same process happens a bunch in other aspects of our lives, including money.  We screw up, make mistakes, and learn.  If we don’t make mistakes we don’t learn!

But instead of accepting that we make mistakes, sometimes in order to try and avoid “errors”, we try to be — or appear to be — perfect… yipes!  Just how patient are you with yourself?  Do you keep trying to attain something close to perfection to avoid judgement?  And do you notice that most of the judgement come from your inner critic, instead of the people around you?

Many of us have this thing in our heads about trying to be ‘perfect‘.  I truly think it’s one of the traps our Inner Critics use to keep us stuck in a rut.  Somehow we think we are supposed to be perfect without practice, failing, or learning.  Instead I really like the perspective that Maya Angelou put forth:  “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

We do recover, we do persevere, and we do learn.

Money is just one of the assets that we ‘spend’ while we are learning.  Money, Time, and Energy all get spent.   And I’d like to suggest that Money is really just a reflection of the other two: Time and Energy.

Here’s the really interesting question.  How much time, energy, and maybe even money do you spend trying to be perfect, protecting the idea that you are almost perfect, or even hiding that you aren’t perfect?  What if instead of getting trapped by perfection, you actually celebrated your mistakes as ways to learn?  What if it’s really about focusing on the learning, and not beating yourself up about that mistake you made?

It’s really likely that your attempt at perfection is a reaction to some really ‘old stuff’ that actually is no longer present in your life, right?  Like avoiding being judged or lectured.

Seems to me trying to be perfect has us holding on to, and getting stuck in, our errors in judgement, instead of learning from them, perhaps laughing them off, and most certainly moving on… what say you?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untanlger

If you’d like some support letting go of trying for perfection, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

 

Talking vs Action

There’s this fascinating thing that most of us do: we try to talk change into happening.  We depend more on what people say than on what they do!  It gets us in trouble!  Also, I think it gets us in internal trouble too.  We keep trying to fix or change things with words, instead of—and in place of—actions.  Somehow we think if we just keep asking and talking about how we need or want things to be different, they will be different.  Based on results, I’m not sure about that.  In fact, I’m more and more convinced that it’s both frustrating and ineffective.

Actually I have found, over time, that the old adage “actions speak louder than words” is well worth heeding!  Talking is a good thing in many ways.  It truly helps us understand what is going on, and it supports our coming up with strategies and ideas.  However, it doesn’t actually change things without corresponding action.

Let’s get real here.  You know that you have told yourself over and over that something needed to change… and that it didn’t actually change until you behaved differently, right?

In addition much of this ‘talking’ thing is based in our hope that others will change if we just talk to them.  If we just somehow explain how much they have hurt us, surely they will change!  It’s a thing that in Coachland is often called “the dream underneath the complaint”.  Surely the person you are talking to will see your pain, understand how important this is to you, and change?  Kinda not.  In all likelihood they are actually waiting for you to to change.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, on it goes, over and over.

There is a way out, though, radical as it may sound!  It’s about you behaving differently, instead of talking more.  It’s really kind of fascinating.  It’s a system thing.  As you change how you respond, and how you act, eventually the system changes too.  What that means is that if you behave differently, people will treat you differently—eventually!  Initially they will try to bring you back to the old dance.  It is, after all, an ingrained habit.  If, however, you persist in new ways of ‘being’ in the situation, others will either change with you or disengage entirely.

Meanwhile, you’ll be actually expressing who you are, and what you want, through your actions instead of having the same conversations over and over.

This reminds me of a friend I had long ago in South Carolina.  She had this adorable yet mischievous little girl.  The little girl had done something wrong, and her Mom told her that they were going to have to go in the other room and talk about it.  The little girl’s pleading response was “Oh, no Mommy!  Not the talk!  Anything but the talk!”  There’s more wisdom in the little girl’s response than is immediately apparent.  “The talk” doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t give her new actions to try.

Personally I’ve been trying out this place of “being and doing” what I want to have happen, instead of talking about it in several places.  I’m finding it does require patience and fortitude—and that it is quite effective.

As we approach a new year, we often set intentions or resolutions.  How does this idea of less talking and more doing factor into what you want to change or improve?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like some help in this dance of shifting from talking to doing, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Are You Dirigible?

In looking for something to lend a bit of cheer this time of year — and perhaps some new money perspectives — I’ve come up with a new slant on your money beliefs.  What happens when you treat your money like a blimp?

A couple of weeks ago I was watching a truly silly 1930, Cecil B. DeMille film called ‘Madam Satan’.  I love these pre-code movies with the risque dialog and wild clothes, not to mention wacky plots.  This one is about the wife trying to get her cheating, playboy husband back from the ‘party girl’, Trixie.  Of course most of the action centers around a costume ball which includes auctioning off the ladies to rich guys!  The party is being held on a Zeppelin because that is what every wildly rich person does, right?  It’s quite a ride.

You won’t be surprised to find out that in the midst of the musical numbers and witty repartee there is a thunder storm which causes the Dirigible to go down.  It is a DeMille movie after all.  Naturally, there are some clever ways our ‘heroes’ end up surviving.

All this reminded me of the actual definition of Dirigible: “capable of being directed, steerable” — thus a blimp, air ship, or Zeppelin is a ‘steerable balloon.’

Okay, now this is not just a bit of whimsy.

It got me to thinking about the challenge that many folks have ‘directing and steering’ their personal money.

Your money can certainly feel like this big bag of air that seems to get untethered and wander off on its own, leaving you holding the string.  Perhaps it even feels like it has a mind of its own.  For many folks, things like student loans and credit card debt feel like big unwieldy things looming over you.

The crucial thing to do is to become more “dirigible”.  How might you make your money easier for you to manage, control and “steer”?

Like most complex things, it’s about smaller chunks, and processes.

How do you manage other projects?  What techniques work for you?  I’ll bet that there is a way you can use those same ideas around money?  Going back to the blimp analogy, it feels like you have to steer your money the way ‘experts’ do.  To that I say “not so much”, especially when it comes to your day-to-day money “dirigibility”!

The important thing is to find an simple way  to pay attention to what you are up to with your money — a way that allows you to ‘direct and steer’ it and also to enjoy and engage in the process.  Something more manageable than a giant zeppelin above you  that you try and steer from a tiny basket underneath!

Play with this a bit and see where it takes you.  And of course, if you need a bit of support in figuring out how to be more dirigible with your money, let me know!

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

The Upside of a Bad Money Behavior

This week I’ve invited my friend, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury to be a guest blogger.  She and I have been chatting about money and how it effects our clients every month for years now.  As you can tell from her words below we clearly have a similar take on how money thinking stymies us! See more about her, at the end of the blog.  If you’d like to check out her fascinating new book:  “Breaking Money Silence®” 

Have you ever wondered why you don’t always act in responsibly ways when it comes to money? Or maybe you are financially fit and find it hard to understand why a loved one seems to spend or invest money in an irrational manner. The reason is simple. There is an upside to every bad money behavior.  That is why it is so difficult to change poor habits, including unhealthy financial habits. The short-term gain keeps you coming back for more.

Dana is a great example. She loves to buy expensive gadgets, but knows that she spends too much of her take home pay on these toys. Dana knows that this spending behavior is getting in the way of her goal to save for a down payment for her first home. When asked, Dana tells me that she wants to stop overspending on electrics.  But her actions tell a different story.

What Dana doesn’t realize is that buying something new gives her a rush, makes her feel good after a long week at work, and boosts her self-esteem. All her friends fondly call her “the gadget queen.” There is a big upside to this unhealthy money behavior. Until Dana appreciates the benefits of this habit, it will be hard, if not impossible to change.

Do you identify with Dana? Do you have a habit or behavior that you would love to stop but find it difficult to let go of? If so, here are some inquiries for you to consider.

What is the short-term benefit of this money behavior?

As a trained behavioral change specialist, I always look for the brilliance in the bad behavior. In other works, what are the benefits of staying stuck or not changing? In Dana’s case not changing her spending habits helped her feel good about herself and good in the moment.

What would it be like to not receive this short-term benefit?

The first step in changing an unhealthy habit is realizing how it serves you. In Dana’s case, the bad habit was paired with feeling good and special. If she is going to save more money, and spend less money she will have to grieve the loss of the excitement she feels each time she buys the latest gadget. This is not an easy task, but possible. It is easier to sit with uncomfortable feelings once you label them and know that feeling them is temporary and part of what will ultimately help you heal. 

What other coping strategy can I use to get these needs met?

Dana’s desire to feel good about herself is not unhealthy and in fact, is a good thing. It is just that how she is going about it is hurting her financially. When you want to change a habit make sure you find other ways of meeting your underlying need. In Dana’s case, she started a blog about gadgets. This way she didn’t have to buy every toy, but could stay up on the latest trends in electronics. She also was still seen as “the gadget queen” by her friends and that was an important part of her identity.

Asking these three questions will help you identify the upside of any unwanted money habit. While the answers are not a magic wand, they do provide valuable data to aid in the change process. So the next time you are beating yourself up for a bad habit, instead wonder about the upside.

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury is a wealth psychology expert, founder of KBK Wealth Connection, host of the  Breaking Money Silence® podcast, and the  author of several books including How to Give Financial Advice to Women and How to Give Financial Advice to Couples. Her new book, Breaking Money Silence:  Shatter Money Taboos by Helping Your Clients Openly Discuss Their Finances was published September 30, 2017. For more information, visit www.kbkwealthconnection.com.

Thanks Kathleen, I love having you come play!

Shell Tain, The Untangler

 

First Things First

When it comes to untangling our myriad of personal money knots, it seems to me there is an essential concept that is missing.  It’s about putting first things first.

Do you have some challenges with money?   Around 97% of us do.  There are bunches and bunches of problems people have with money.  Although there are many, many variations, it mostly it comes down to:

  • Not having as much as we want.
  • Not knowing how to manage it.
  • Spending more that we make.

In other words we realize that something isn’t working for us around money.  And whatever we have decided the missing piece is, we then seek to ‘fix’ it directly.  We try to make more.  We take a class on budgeting.  We set rules around spending.  All that sounds like a great idea… and yet, it doesn’t work, does it?

It’s actually pointing to a much bigger issue, one that I discovered long ago in ‘Corporate Land’.  In my day as a Controller/CFO, the ‘rule’ was to not bring up a problem unless you had a solution.  Sounds good, but there is a big trap in there.

The trap is that you end up ‘fixing’ things that aren’t the actual problem, and thus actually creating more problems.

Huh?  Well in business the fix is usually a form or a procedure, and if it doesn’t address the real underlying issue, it just makes for more bureaucracy and fiddly irritation, right?  I finally learned that the longer process of actually discussing the issue came up with much more effective solutions!

So let’s go visit a hypothetical married couple and see what’s happening in the money tangle of their marriage.  For grins lets say that he keeps a budget to the penny and is watching money all the time, and that she never looks at it and spends it on things that make her feel good.  They fit the criteria we had above — not having enough, not managing it well, and spending too much.  I’m guessing you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that talking about money is less than fun for them? It’s pretty messy and challenging, right?

So what solutions do they try?  My guess is all sorts of things that are based on changing the behavior without actually understanding what caused it in the first place.  They get into a push-me/pull-you power game that doesn’t take into consideration the ‘Why’ under the behavior.

And yes, I’m back to my concept that we all have 5-year-olds running our money:

  • Because it is the most taboo topic on the planet
  • Because no one talks about how to actually deal with it
  • Because we make up ways to manage it that make sense to our little kid brain
  • Because we then leave the little kid part of us in charge so we don’t have to deal with it

And so I come back to ‘First Things First’.  No budget or plan will work until you understand what your little kid part decided about money.  No lecture or personal rant from yourself or your spouse will help until you dig deep and find out what you made up about money.

By what you ‘made up’ I mean conclusions that you came to, most likely as a child, about money.  Let me give you some actual examples of conclusions clients have shared with me:

  • Money ruins families
  • Money was the only way my family showed affection
  • Money was the only criteria for success in my family
  • My family believed money was bad and evil

Are there all sorts of wonderful ways to manage and handle your money more effectively?  Absolutely!  I have, use, and share a bunch of them—and they don’t help at all until you’ve untangled the underlying knot.  Until you’ve addressed the likely ineffective thinking you’ve been operating under for years.

Please give yourself the gift of addressing first things first before you leap into the action steps!  The results will be much more effective, truly!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like some help in untangling that really old hidden money knot in your head, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Tension Pattern Breaking

As humans it seems like there is only so much we can take before we explode.  We’ve all been there, to some degree, at some time.  We find something is so frustrating we just sort of snap.  What I’ve noticed in working with clients is that there is often a pattern—or dare I say a “dance”—to this progression.

Think for a moment about how couples fight. There is a dance to that right?  She says X, he says Y, then she counters with X on steroids, and he follows with Y on steroids, and they are off to the races.  It’s a well worn groove in their relationship.

Unfortunately, these patterns can be harmful and destructive to us and others.  And they are deeply ingrained, whether it shows up in road rage or the same argument over and over with a family member.

How do you know if you are stuck in one of these places?  Well, it shows up like your own personal ‘Ground Hog Day’ movie.  You keep repeating the events.  You have the same arguments, with the same results.  Perhaps you keep falling into the same traps in your family?  You to do something to try and please them, and find yourself being criticized for it.  Then maybe you blow up at being treated that way, and then end up having to apologize.  Somehow,  a couple of weeks later, it all happens again.  Yipes!

Yes, it’s messy, complex stuff, and it can have you feeling trapped and helpless.

There are all sorts of ways to deal with this.  I’d like to share some thoughts I have about one way that you may not have considered to both look at it and to change the pattern.

Long ago I read a piece in a book that was about the tension of seeing and wanting the shoes in the shop window.  The author talked about the tension that the desire created, and how it builds.  He then pointed out that the way the tension gets relieved is that you actually buy the shoes!  This a really interesting revelation to me, and really has helped me with a lot of clients.  The recognition that we can only take the tension so long, and then we somehow have to resolve it.  (I would love to share the book with you, but it turns out I have no clue as to where I read it!!!)

So that relief of the tension thing is what happens with a lot of those places where we are frustrated beyond our edge and some how lash out.  We don’t want to keep running around in circles, but we feel stuck, so we do something that resolves it, ends the event, blows things up—whatever.

That leads me to a different book and an idea on one effective way to change this.  This book I have and know!  It’s The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  He talks about how habits have a Trigger — Routine — Reward pattern.  While we are talking about these negative results allow me to take the liberty of changing one word to make his process more accessible to our challenging situations.  My re frame is Trigger — Routine — Result.

Take a moment to see how this pattern of Trigger — Routine — Result  shows up in the places where you get emotionally challenged and caught.  The Trigger is the thing that gets it started.  It’s seeing the shoes, or noticing that something is happening that you don’t like. The Routine is what you do in response to the trigger.  For example you pine and fret about the shoes, or you complain about what you don’t like.  The Result is you buy the shoes, or end up in an argument.  Your example may, of course, be more complex and sophisticated.

Okay, we are up to the place where we change the behavior!  And the change is all about the Routine.  It’s really the important thing to change.  Most of the time you don’t have control over the Trigger because it’s about what someone else said or did.  But you do have a choice around the routine.  You can choose to do something different!  Duhigg’s book really is all about  the idea that we can’t just stop a habit or pattern—we can replace it.  I love this idea.  Part of why I love it is that it reinforces the notion that we have to do something different if we want different results.  So if you change your routine, or response, to the trigger you will create different results.

Try it out, perhaps start with something that isn’t emotionally charged and see if you can’t create a different Result by changing your Response to an old Trigger!  It’s worth trying!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like some support in changing your messier patterns, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.