Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to take care of ourselves — to be a self-cleaning oven. For me, this last month has been one of those times that irritatingly remind me of that. In many ways being a ‘Self-Cleaning Oven’ is the counterpoint of my last blog: ‘What If It’s Not Actually About You?‘ Were you able to read that one? Magically the same cut and paste of the link to that blog—which I used for Facebook and notifying list-serves—didn’t work for the larger mass of folks on my ‘list’. Razzlefrats!
I will not burden you with all the things that have been challenging for me this month, but suffice it to say that I finally wrote down a list. It’s now over a dozen. Maybe I could lay some of it at the doorstep of planetary influences (Mercury in retrograde)? Certainly, having this ‘cold’ I’ve been fussing with for over a month didn’t help. The challenges have been wide-reaching, involving clients, friends, technology, isolation — oh, and even money!
I don’t bring all this up to start a ‘poor me’ conversation. I do bring it up to acknowledge that we all have times like these, and we need methods to cope with such times.
What I notice is that inevitably it finally comes down to each of us being a self-cleaning oven. What I really mean by that is, no matter how much support you have from friends, family, and outside resources, it is always up to you to find your own way. It’s up to you to explore options, find resources, change—or keep—your thinking, make choices, and solve the problem.
To hearken back to the ‘It’s Not Actually About You’ blog, the stuff others try to project on you isn’t about you… AND it follows that what you feel about others isn’t about them, it’s all about you, TO YOU! The trick is what you do with that.
Remember that old idea that ‘no one can actually make us angry’? Yes, we do get angry, sad, frustrated — all sorts of emotions! And these emotions are real and valid. They are also our projection of our values, morals, history, dreams…
Many, many times we get caught trying to change others in the hope of creating a different result. The problem is we can’t change others. We can only change ourselves and our choices. I did a presentation last week on ‘Managing VS Meeting Client Expectations’ a favorite topic of mine. One woman raised her hand and asked about several ‘difficult clients’ she just couldn’t please. Those of you that know me well won’t be surprised that I told her about the difficulty in trying to teach a pig to sing. (That is, it wastes your time and irritates the pig.) The point is not to keep trying to make people who are difficult happy — it is about finding clients that appreciate you and your work.
No matter how many resources you have, there is always that point where it’s you and you alone who makes the choice of how to react and respond. Thus the self-cleaning oven analogy. How can you move more quickly from the frustration with others to the place where you really look at why this bothers you. How can you be introspective in those moments? That’s what the self-cleaning oven is all about. Yes, it may burn and feel harsh sometimes, and in the end it is yourself you need to honor and care for. You have dreams, values, and ideals that need to be honored and respected… and you are the one to do that for yourself.
And just in case you were wondering: you don’t actually have to declare this position to others. You don’t have to tell them you are going to take care of yourself. You just need to do it. Primarily because taking care of you—being your own self-cleaning oven—is ALL about you, not them.
How about the next time something or someone gets under your skin, you take a moment to see what part of what you feel is about your sense of what’s fair, your values, your dreams — you — and then take some time to be a self-cleaning oven. What would be the value of that for you?
Shell Tain, the Untangler
If you’d like to explore some specific ways to be a Self-Cleaning Oven give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.