Getting Out of the "I don't know" Rut

Have you ever been asked a question by someone and found yourself answering “I don’t know”? I see this often, and have been guilty of it myself in the past. What I find is that in times of crisis – or when something feels that way – we may not really know an answer; it’s as if the brain freezes and we can’t find the words to express ourselves.
Another possibility is that we have the answer but we ‘really’ don’t want to say it, out of worry over the response from the person asking. It’s as if we already ‘know’ what they will say or how they will react – “I don’t want to hurt their feelings,’ or ‘They are going to be so mad at me.’ We are mind-reading at this point and predicting the result, both of which are defense mechanisms meant to protect us.
If we hurt another’s feelings, we then have to deal with the guilt or shame we may feel; if someone gets mad at our words or actions, we then have to atone or may hide from them if we avoid conflict. When we don’t like the negative feelings that may result in confronting a situation, we will do all we can to avoid it. There are some who fear the initial response from the other person that they either don’t think about or don’t care that the end-result can be worse if the person finds out. So, I don’t know becomes not telling you how much you slighted me, to now dealing with you’re not speaking to me.
The funny thing is, as well, that we do this with ourselves. We hide our own feelings when we don’t want to be disappointed, get angry, get hurt, etc. How many times do you say “I don’t know” when asked where you want to go eat or what you want for dinner?  We do have the answers but are fearful of saying them, which is the task at hand:

  • go back and look at all the times when you said or thought, “I don’t know” – tally them up and you may be surprised at how often we say this phrase (i.e. ‘what do I want to eat”‘ ‘what time do I want to get up?’ etc.)
  • asses these times and who was involved; what were the underlying thoughts or fears that you are afraid to let out. These are the root-causes(s) and now can be dealt with
  • Now, take each of these situations and reframe them with saying what is really on your mind, not worrying about the response or the result. See how it ‘feels.’ Come up with assertive responses to resolve the issue

Those are some simple but effective steps to finally be able to say your thoughts/feelings and no worry about the reactions you gt. Being assertive means you can express yourself but you are not doing it at the expense of someone else. By using these steps, you can now feel free by releasing “I don’t know” from your vocabulary and feel freer to be you.

How do You React to Unplanned Change?

I was in church this morning, which is merging with another church; today was the first day the two were brought together. I used to attend both at one time but this came as a surprise. However, what should have been a holy experience was interrupted by a woman who sat in front of me, who was obviously very displeased. She kept shaking her head and making some snide comments that were loud enough to be heard.
What should have been an uplifting service was now – not. It made me think of both the how and why one reacts to unplanned change; heck, change in general. If things don’t turn out the way we anticipated, we either accept or not. Both, however, can lead to some anxiety and resistance.
When we anticipate the future, this can lead to worry about what that might look like. The fear center in our brain – the amygdala – activates and releases certain chemicals into our system. How we have responded to scary situations sets how we react when those situations threaten us in some way. Usually, these situational outcomes are created in our mind, although our responses become more automatic, especially if we have the same responses over time. So, the worry can also come out as anger, like the woman in church.
I don’t know if she didn’t like the distance she now has to drive, if she was upset that new members were coming in, or the new practices they implemented; I do know, however, that she was not happy and did not either care or realize that she let it show. Getting in our ‘rightness’ leads to resisting change of any type: our thoughts, our way. The question to ask is: if you would rather be right in your way or to be happier? The thought here is that you win so I lose but, in the grand scheme of things, no one is winning.
You can either wait and see, or go along with, the change or you can resist. You never know if the change may actually be enjoyable but when you think negative, you get negative and are not open. As we can never know an outcome, stop trying to control it. Be open enough to ‘go with the flow’ and wait it out; this will allow you time to make an informed decision for how you want to proceed from then on. Going back to the woman I spoke of earlier, she can either go to another church or she can give it time to see how things go. I prayed that she opens her heart enough to find out.
We all have the ability to assess how we respond to adverse situations and unplanned change; we also have the ability to learn to control how we view those situations and our responses. Go back and think of a time when you had an unplanned event and how you looked at it and how your responded; rate the magnitude of the event (finances, job loss, divorce, etc. all have high magnitudes), and then begin developing solutions to fall back on. Challenge and reframe your thoughts so you feel more in control. I pray that you open your heart enough to find out.

Life Lessons from a Golf Pro

I love reading inspirational stories of how people made it to their success. One of these is Gary Player, a professional golfer, who has shared his personal ‘commandments’ – the life lessons he has lived by and you can, too; hope you enjoy:

  1. Change is the price of survival
  2. Everything in business is negotiable, except quality
  3. A promise made is a debt incurred
  4. For all we take in life we must pay
  5. Persistence and common sense are more important than intelligence
  6. The fox fears not the man who boasts by night but the man who rises early in the morning
  7. Accept the advice of the man who loves you, though you like it not apresent
  8. Trust instinct to the end, though you cannot render any reason
  9. The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but that while their companies slept were toiling in the night
  10. There is no substitute for personal contact

Forging On – Now That You're in the Habit

Happy July 1st – the first challenge is over and a new month full of possibilities awaits. I love this time as there are so many things to look forward to – most of which I can create. You have the same opportunity.
My reveal is that I’m forging on with a new challenge, although I think I’m doing two. One involves doing at least 10 minutes of exercise a day; I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but, to me who does less than minimal, it is. Although I do dance two -three nights per week, I want to focus on strength, so this may include using the overlooked apparatus I have accumulated or which hold dust. So, I’m pulling out those bands, weights, the big ball, and I might even pull out my step or trampoline.
The other challenge is to be more intentional of how I want my day to go. We all have the opportunity to say how we’d like to feel about our day – our thoughts control our actions. So when I set an intention that I will focus on only positives, I will see them as my brain seeks out the proof (yours does, too). I want to be more open, less judgemental  and forgiving of myself (and others), and to worry less about what others are doing. I want to be intentional about what I’m doing – this now is me accepting responsibility for me.
Saying this is transparent (and a little scary) but I feel positive and honoring my intentions. I encourage you to keep doing the challenge; whether it is continuing on the journey you have been on or to set new goals. Positive habit breed positive actions and a happier life. Happy TGIF!