Category Archives: emotions

Making Room to Move Forward

So long ago that I don’t remember when—or frankly where—I got this idea, I heard about a process to help us get some traction on moving forward from big wadded up messes.  I’ve been suggesting this idea to several clients lately, so I decided it was time for a blog!

We all get stuck in ‘loops’ regarding traumatic issues.  It can seem like we just keep circling, and circling, and then circling yet again.  Going over and over the old stuff.  It’s not just that it’s exhausting — it’s ineffective, and it keeps us from moving forward.

Yes, some things are just really hard to deal with.  They just keep haunting us.  Those things that stand in our way have a story behind them—a tale of what happened, all the circumstances, who said what to whom, what the weather was… it goes on and on.  Additionally, a lot of this kind of situation is really old stuff.  It includes things from childhood, relationships, money, etc.

The solution for how to stop stirring the pot and get moving to some new thoughts and choices lies in neural science.  Here’s the fundamental problem: When you start thinking about the issue, you ‘activate’ the neural pathway that all the details and circumstances are parked in.  As you think of one bit of the problem, all sorts of other things come to mind.  Soon you get totally swamped, just like “when you are up to your ass in alligators, you forget that the purpose was to drain the swamp!

The solution is to put all the alligators… um, circumstances, issues, details, etc… around the issue in a container.  Yes, imagine some kind of container.  It could be a safe with a big heavy door, an old chest with a lock, a file cabinet, whatever you want.  The point is to put all the details somewhere.

The next step is to have a name for the container.  Be thoughtful about this name.  It’s a tool to help you refer to ALL the stuff in the container without having to reopen and look at it.  Don’t pick a name that’s going to cause you to go into all the details again.  Also be careful to not pick a name that’s going to create unnecessary angst in a different direction.  It’s the difference between “the time the car broke down” and “the time the car broke down on the way to grandma’s house” — you really, don’t want to reactivate it your head every time you go to her house!

Now that you have the mess nicely contained—and aren’t looking at the gators—you can do the important thinking to move forward.  You can get strategic, you can make plans, you can come up with new and maybe even different ideas—all without being sucked in by the details and circumstances because they are tucked nicely away in your container.  Later you can always go reopen the container and revisit what happen if you want to.

Meanwhile, You can have a clear head without distraction to focus on moving forward.  Whew!  What a relief that will be.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to some support in making room to change give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

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

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

Do Budgets Drive You Batty?

The typical answer to that question is an emphatic YES, THEY DO!  Many times in a presentation I have  asked: “How many of you have created a budget?” — most of the hands in the room go up.  Then I ask: “After you created the budget , how many of you actually ever looked at it again?” — almost all of the hands in the room go down!  My guess is that, as one of my ‘followers’, creating and using budgets isn’t your favorite method of managing your money?  Okay, maybe I understated that: You probably think of a budget as a form of torture, right?  You are not alone!

Before I get into exploring that, just in case you are worried that I’m going to end this blog suggesting that you use or create a traditional budget, have no fear!   What I’m actually going to do is explain why budgets don’t work for you, and suggest some other options.

Budgets can and do work… for analytical types.  You know them, they are those “logic first” people, the ones who create spread sheets and data bases for fun.  They are great people.  They are historians.  They like looking at all the data and coming to conclusions.  Good for them.  If you are one of them, you probably already have and enjoy using a budget.

If you aren’t one of those analytical types, all it means is that you are not happy crunching numbers.  You might be more ‘feeling’ oriented, more emotionally based.  Or you might be more ‘in the moment’ than interested in history and trends.  If that’s the case one of the biggest problems with a budget for you is that it’s after the fact.  What I mean is that you don’t have control in the moment.  You do what you do, spend what you spend.  Then you come home and as you load your spending into the budget spreadsheet you have either succeeded or failed.  By then you don’t really remember what your thoughts or emotions were when you were making the purchase, so you feel a bit lost.  Around this point is where most people feel shame, judgement, or even some bit of failure.

And there’s the rub, the thing that makes us batty.  It feels like something happened to you that you just couldn’t control because you are looking at the event before or after, instead of when it’s actually happening.  That’s why it feels so upsetting.  You are judging your action outside of the time when the actual choice was made.  At best you have a memory of what it felt like, not a clear vision of the choice.

If you are more of a big picture, emotional and/or an in the moment person, analysis after the fact won’t actually help you change your behavior.  It may make you feel bad about it, but it doesn’t give you any insights.

What will help you make better money choices is to find a way to be conscious of what you are spending—and why you are spending it—right in the moment that it is happening!  Make a list of things that often motivate your choices in the moment.  Things like:

  • Being tired, hungry
  • Feeling lonely, angry
  • Wanting something new, an emotional lift, some fun
  • Anxious to just get it done, settling for less than what you wanted

There are myriad possibilities, and you know what your go-to ones are.  Write them on a  card or note them on your phone. While you are standing in line to pay for your items, check if any of your purchases hit one of those spots?  and then make a choice to either buy it or not.  Understand what you are up to, make choices that truly work for you both in the moment and the long run.

A system like this, or my GOSH Model (which you can find on other blogs of mine) WILL help you be more conscious of your spending.  That’s what this whole budgeting thing is truly about — being conscious, aware, and purposeful in your spending.

Focus on having your spending and how you use your money reflect what you really care about. Your money will reflect your choices.

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to explore just how you can let go of a budget and still have sound money practices give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

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.

Boomers and Personal Growth

First, in case you didn’t know, I’m a baby boomer—a fairly early one since I was born in 1951.  Lots of individual ‘boomers’ have been pioneers and changed the world.  Paul McCartney is just one of many.  In addition to contributions by many of us individually, there are some remarkable changes they we were the first generation to actually experience.  Things like computers for individual use, space exploration, and the one I really want to talk about today—’personal growth‘.

Actually ‘personal growth’ is  the catch-all phrase I’m using to describe a big cultural change.  I’ve decided, based on my own experience, that my generation is the first one to embrace the radical idea that we can work on changing the baggage from our ancestors and our past without necessarily being considered out-and-out crazy.

Things have shifted.  When I was in high school and having a very hard time with a bunch of things, I asked my dad if I could get some counseling.  His response was: “Sure, we can send you to Camarillo!”  Which meant ‘No!‘  Camarillo was that state mental hospital.  It was a stigma for people of my dad’s generation to get help with their emotions.  He even declined the psychiatric help offered to him after he was liberated from a German prison camp at the end of WWII.

As I grew older there was a shift happening in the mental health field.  It was becoming more and more common for people to seek the support of a psychologist or psychiatrist.  It no longer meant that you were ‘totally crazy’ if you tried to untangle your thoughts and behaviors.  There was still a stigma, but it was much less severe.

It’s an important change for all of us.  For literally centuries people kept doing the same dysfunctional things their families did over and over and over.  There was no way to stop the patterns unless you were willing to accept the judgement involved in ‘getting therapy’.

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Phil’s statement: “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”  And I would add the obvious idea that you can’t acknowledge what you are unwilling to look at, work on, or talk about.

I’m really writing this to answer a question I get from a lot of my clients, which goes something like:  Why didn’t my parents do better with this?  The answer to that comes from another quote —this time it’s a paraphrase from Maya Angelou:  We do the best we can until we know better, when we know better we do better.  Our parents didn’t know better. How could they?  Their parents, grandparents, etc. didn’t either.

And then in late 1980’s and early 1990’s all sorts of things started to happen around new ways of not only becoming more aware of our thinking and behavior, but actually consciously doing—as Maya would have said—better!  One of the best of these new ways is the one I work incalled Life Coaching.  Imagine, assisting and supporting people to have better lives,! Helping them to let go of the way it was always done before, be it around work, relationships, or even money!

And it’s all been in my lifetime. Wow!

You know I used to think my grandmother, Cupcake (* see below) had seen the most important and remarkable changes in human history in her lifetime.  She was born in 1900 and died in 2001.  In her hundred years there was electricity, automobiles, flight,  computers — a myriad of amazing and miraculous inventions that changed our lives.

And now I think that it may just be possible that the most miraculous thing is happening in my lifetime — people are readily choosing to break the old patterns and embrace their lives and talents in new ways.   They are doing it through workshops, coaching, counseling, retreats — there are all sorts of paths to personal growth.

Wow, just wow!

(*Okay, I recognize an explanation is in order here—as a little girl I nicknamed her that.  She was short and round and had white hair, thus frosting on top.  The name “Cup Cake” stuck!)

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to chat more about this idea of how you can break the pattern, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Hard Won Learning

Many of us were taught that when there is a conflict or a problem we should talk about it, discuss it, resolve it, right?  And one thing I have learned the hard way over the years is that there are some times when that just doesn’t work!

Recently I have had a couple of clients who are learning that too.  It’s a hard habit to break—for many of us it ‘goes against the grain‘ to not actually untangle the knot and examine it!  And yet I am fixin’ to bring up the idea that there are times when it’s neither smart nor effective to bare your soul.

Like most things in life it’s about balance, safety and boundaries.  And it’s also very much about who you are dealing with, and their perspective.

Actually one of the things I do as a coach is try to help people explore what is behind their habits and beliefs—to dig deeper and expose the thought processes and obstacles.  And we do that in a confidential, safe place.  In this instance we are both coming from the place of untangling the knot for the sake of the client.

However their are people in our lives that don’t come from that perspective.  Some may put their own agenda before yours.  Some may actually use the information you give them to hurt or manipulate you.

Unfortunately we all find that out the hard way: we expose some vulnerability and then experience the pain of being hurt by the other person using that information in a negative way.

Truly, I do wish—for all of us—that people would stop doing that. Stop lashing out! And when others lash out it is beyond our control, right? So the thing we need to do is learn to stop giving those that hurt us more ammunition.  And we do that by not sharing the things we have been taught to share with those who will use that information in a negative way!

In essence by “opening the kimono” we share our vulnerability.  It’s a wonderful way to share and create intimacy.  People who are both in the same place of caring and respect in a relationship honor that place.  People who aren’t in that same place, or are compromised by  life-long habits of confrontation and other challenging circumstances, will use your vulnerability against you.

You can’t change that.  You can’t change them.  Sacrificing yourself by continuing to give them more ammo won’t help anyone.

Give some more thought to what to share, and with whom.  Recognize that you really aren’t required to bare your inner thoughts to everyone.  And as the song goes:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

I’m happy to help you sort through who to ‘bare your soul’ to and who to ‘keep it under wraps’ with, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

 

Communication Lines Open

One of the greatest things about working with clients is the phrases they come up with to help them develop new habits and techniques.  A favorite of mine, an homage to Star Trek, was a mindset one client came up with to help him focus on several goals when facing difficult situations and conversations.  It went: Shields Up, Weapons Down, Communication Lines Open!’

Basically that would translate to something like:

  • Shields Up — be cautious, don’t let your guard down, and feel safe against a perceived attack with no need to be “defensive”
  • Weapons Down —  stay calm, no “horses” (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling, per John Gottman’s Four Horsemen), no need to feel like you have
    to “fight back”
  • Communication Lines Open — be ready to listen carefully, really paying attention to what the other person is saying, and respond thoughtfully

It’s much easier to say the phase than it would be to relay the underlying meanings. Your brain already knows what all this means—unless of course you have spent the last 60-plus years on the planet “No-television-us“!  In a way it’s even more spectacular than knowing “exactly” what it means.  When you set up a situation with this Star Trek reference in mind, the neuro-pathways in your brain, where all those characters and species live, light up. You tap into an amazing library of techniques and approaches to employ.  You have models in front of you for diplomacy and “calmness under fire“.

Which leads me to digress, ever so slightly, to that favorite question to ask your friends.  “Who’s your favorite Star Trek Captain?”  Again, one of those places where the one bit of information tells you more about the person than you might think.  There is a big difference in the way Kirk handled a crisis and the way Picard did—pretty telling stuff!  Kirk was a ‘cowboy’ rushing in with guns blaring.  It made for good drama, but is “drama” what we want in our exchanges with others? Picard was thoughtful and diplomatic, which meant less fist-fighting and phaser fire, but usually far calmer interactions with whoever was on the other side.

What do you really want from a challenging interaction?  Create a list of how you want a troublesome conversation to go.  No, really, make a list right now.  I’ll wait…

Okay, list made?  Now what items on your list are out of your control?  You know those ones like:

  • They admit they are wrong
  • They agree with me
  • It is 100% my way
  • They believe what I believe

I’m sure you have more, and the main point is that trying to get others to actually think and feel the way you do is like that old saw:  “Don’t try and teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and irritates the pig.” What you can strive for is improved communication and an understanding by both sides.

Which leads to another sticking point in difficult conversations.  Many of us feel like we have to tell everyone everything, all our feelings, all our reasons.  Frankly my sense is that most of this comes from being in families with sticky boundaries.  Not only do we not have to tell all that, it’s frequently better not to.  I like to think of this as the “need to know” principle.

  • Is it really relevant to the discussion? (I.e., will sharing it really help to resolve the problem?)
  • Is it more personal than you’d really like to share?
  • Would it create more problems than it would fix to share that bit of information?

The next time you have a complaining customer—or get into a political discussion with Uncle Fred—give these ideas a try, and see how it’s different when you are prepared and ready to “Make it so!”

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d test out a couple of new techniques to help you boldly go in the direction of easier conversations, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Processing Emotion

Many of us are finding ourselves flummoxed with what’s going on in our politics.  I’m finding that often trying to grasp and sort through it all just leaves us sputtering, and that’s when we are talking to each other.  It’s even more challenging when we are alone.

What I know is that bewilderment and confusion can turn into grief, fear and anxiety—and yet, despite that, we still need to function on a daily basis.

I have felt this myself and now have a new found respect for what my grandparents and the whole country went through in WWII.

Here’s my dad as he looked when the B17 he was in was shot down near the Swiss border on December 7, 1944.   On December 23rd my grandparents received a telegram saying he was MIA (and presumed dead).  It wasn’t until mid February that they received a letter from a private citizen who had listened to a short wave radio broadcast with a message from my dad saying he was safe and in Stalag Luft 1 prison camp.  By then they’d had a memorial service for him.  When he finally made it home in late 1945, he got to read the condolence cards for his death.  My family in the States, and my dad in the camp, had to manage each day as best they could, without knowing what was going to happen next.

It’s not an easy thing to do.  Frankly the technique that most of my family used to get through it was to “stuff” the feelings as best the could.  (My grandmother did however keep a scrap book of all the details and correspondence. It was definitely a way for her to cope and it’s something I now treasure!)

Trying to stuff emotion is not effective.  We end up with it bubbling out and lingering.  Dealing with negative thoughts and emotions is a process.  Granted, what we are dealing with today is not the same situation—today we don’t have to wait for days to find out what is going on, we are not in the middle of a world war—but things are confusing and emotional.

There is a better way than the “stiff upper lip“or stuffing.

Here’s the technique:

  • You recognize that, for whatever reason, right now is not a good time to process your feelings—you are in the middle of a grocery store, at a business meeting, etc.
  • You then make a date with yourself to actually have your feelings—Saturday at noon, Tuesday at 2:30.
  • On that date and time you do whatever will help you clarify and process the feelings.  Some possibilities include:
    • Writing in a journal
    • Getting physical with a punching bag
    • Having a good, long cry
    • Creating something artistic that represents your concerns
    • In short, create a way to express how you are feeling and express the emotions
  • WARNING:  If for any reason you cannot have the date with yourself at the designated time, reschedule!  Trust me, when we make a commitment of this nature with ourselves and then don’t follow through, there is hell to pay!

This technique works.  It allows you to function and process the emotion without having to compromise either one.  In these fluctuating and unpredictable times it’s good to have ways to take care of ourselves.  Please do take care!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you find yourself struggling with processing what’s happening give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com