Tag Archives: pattern making

What If It’s Not Actually About You?

It’s a really interesting question to ponder, because MOST of the time, it really isn’t about us —even when it feels like it is!  We all process every thought and idea through our own filters.  What we notice about others always is a reflection of what we care about or are interested in — our personal opinions, our values.  It’s just how it is.

I know you have had the experience of, for example, getting a new car and all of a sudden you notice all the other cars of the same model on the road with you.  It almost feels like everyone ran out and got the same car because you did, doesn’t it?  Part of this feeling comes from that really valuable, hard-won human survival trait of Pattern Making — we make patterns  like crazy all the time.  It allows us to not clutter our brains by spending a bunch of time analyzing things.

We respond and react to the thing we are used to, focused on, care about.  And we find it bizarre when others don’t notice or care the same way we do!  For example, I do have several friends that not only don’t have pets, but actually don’t care about animals at all.  I can hardly grok that.  I’m likely, in any circumstance, to pay more attention to the critter than their human!

One of the exercises that is often suggested by counselors and coaches is to ask your friends what they think of you.  It’s often a very positive and illuminating thing to do.  After all, our friends like us!  And it’s also illuminating about the friends, because the things they notice about you reflect what they care about.  If they remark on your kindness and caring for others, it’s because that’s important to them.  If they notice your shoes it’s because they are into shoes.

Here’s an ‘on-point’ example:  Back in the 80’s I dated this really wonderful man, Bill.  Bill was a car guy, big time.  He had a gorgeous ‘Vette‘ that he babied and adored.  At some point we noticed this really interesting thing.  It was about the way we gave directions to folks about how to find some particular place.  He gave directions with reference points of Gas Stations and Car Dealerships.  I’m sure that those of you that know me will not be surprised to hear that my directions had to do with Grocery Stores and Restaurants.  We each noticed and ‘honored’ what was important to us, what we loved and valued.

The point is that when someone makes a comment about you, judges you, criticizes you, it is alway much less about you and more about them.  Something in their experience has been triggered.  Something they have strong opinions about… something about them!

And here’s how and why this is useful to know.  If, before any kind of challenging conversation or interaction, you can repeat to yourself, “It’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s not” you will be much more effective and calm in the exchange.  Afterall, it’s actually not about you!  It’s about their projection around you, or what you represent to them, or how they want you to be… but not actually about you.  And that is true even when they say it is about you!  

Huh?  How can that be?  I’m not saying you aren’t responsible for your actions. You are.  But how others respond to them is their stuff not yours.  This is good news/bad news.  It’s less about us than we think.  The real value here is that if you can hold the idea the this “isn’t about me” you can truly be more present, and effective in the conversation.

I believe that a really effective sweet spot is to be “100% committed and unattached, at the same time” because when we get “attached” we get muddled.  And a great way to not get attached is to remember: “It’s not about me!

Easier said than done, but well worth striving for and practicing, yes?  How might your interactions with others be different with you knowingit’s really not about me?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to play more with this idea give me a call  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

In Spite Of, Not Because Of!

One of the great falsehoods most of us live with is believing that worrying, fretting, obsessing, and other such behaviors really help us be more effective.  I think the truth is that it’s not because of those tendencies, it’s actually in spite of them that we succeed.  Money is one the places that we all do this!

Fretting cropIt’s a learned behavior.  Our parents worried, their parents fretted, everybody spent time wringing their hands.  Okay, maybe there was that crazy uncle that spent money “like it was water.”  He never worried.  He just spent and spent.  I’m not talking about that.  I’m not talking about that.

What I’m talking about is the nattering, the checking the numbers four times, the waking up in the night worrying.  What’s that all about?

It’s really a function of our clever human brains making patterns.  We do an amazing job of pattern making.  We sort things into piles and categories in our head.  We link them together.  We make up conditional statements it like “if A, then B.”  It all comes from the wonderful pattern making than frankly gives us more ‘thought space’ for new things.   We don’t have to look at each new thing and figure it out from scratch.  We find something in our brain database that is similar and sort the new thing into that category.  Very clever, very useful… except when it’s not.

Worrying, fretting, nattering, running numbers over and over… those patterns aren’t helpful.  They are there because that’s what we’ve done.  We’ve worried, spun, and fretted and things turned out okay, so in our brains we have conflated the two together.  “If I worry and obsess money will work out”, is the pattern and thus the conclusion—but what if that’s wrong?  What if the fretting actually is distracting?  What if instead of truly helping it slows you  down?

That’s what I think is more often the truth.  That we succeed not because of all that tail chasing but in spite of it!

I’m not saying don’t look at your money.  I’m not saying don’t spend time with it.  I am saying don’t obsess over it.  What is the reason you check your bank balance several times a day?  Is there really a business reason for that, or is it this fret/obsess thing?

Like most things it’s about balance and moderation.  Spend some time with your money, absolutely.  Plan, look at the big picture, by all means have a cash flow spreadsheet and use it—all really good things to do.  However, when you do them over and over and over they become a distraction that increases rather than reduces stress.

See if you can’t stop in the middle of your stress fest and ask yourself: “Is this helpful? Does this actually make me more effective?” If not, how about doing something else that might get you focused on improving relationships with your clients, getting new business, doing your work in a better way, etc.

How about turning the Fret-O-Meter way down so you have more brain space for being effective?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want some help to stop nattering about money and start being more effecitive with it? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com