Just typing that question causes something in my lower back to release. I can feel my buttocks settle into the cushion on my chair as I stop working quite so hard to live up to whatever unconscious standards are running in the background of my awareness.
How about you?
The hardest thing in life is thinking we need to get it right
It seems to me that the hardest thing in life, the hardest thing in building a business, the hardest thing about raising children or growing vegetables, is dealing with our ideas and judgments about getting things right.
Those ideas about what is and isn’t right keep us from going with what we know is true for us in the moment. Preoccupation with getting it right can make decision-making pure hell.
What makes making the right decision seemingly impossible is believing that there’s a right decision to begin with.
The need to get it right goes deep
The imperative that one must get things right is layered, persistent, sneaky. If you’re like me, you let go of the need to get things right, only to discover that you have a new imperative to not need to get things right.
Even (especially?) illness comes with imperatives about what’s right
As some of you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of June. As you might imagine, I’ve had lots of different feelings and thoughts about it.
Far and away the hardest thing about it has been the persistent arising of theories or concepts about getting it right.
Having the right feelings. (Yeah, like I’m in charge of that.)
Making the right choices. (For whom? When?)
Sending the right messages. (Hopeless invitation to self-absorption.)
What I’ve learned about making the right decision
I’ve been keeping a journal of my breast cancer journey at CaringBridge, and here’s an excerpt from my entry on June 24 about decision-making and getting things right. I wrote it after deciding to get a bilateral mastectomy, but I think it applies to decision-making in general.
“The hardest part of the past couple of days has been wondering if I’ve made the right decision. And the hardest part of that has been wondering what other people would think of my decision. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things I’ve learned.
“Decisions make themselves. We don’t know what we are going to do, and then we do. The less sound and fury I can inject in the interim, the better able I will be to discern the “right” decision. More about what constitutes “rightness” below.
“It’s not over until it’s over. Another way to say this is that I reserve the right to be inconsistent, erratic, and change my mind. If I’m struck with a sudden insight that changes how I see this, I’ll punt. I’m grateful to Dr. Wechter for explicitly giving me permission to change my mind, though she did ask me not to do it the day before surgery. 😉
“This decision stands until it doesn’t. Insight doesn’t flow from second-guessing. I like how I feel about this decision when I am settled down, and I’m going to stand in that. I won’t be surprised if I second-guess myself anyway, but I don’t intend to put a lot of energy into it.
“The right decision is the one you make. I have a bias in favor of decisions made from a place of peace, from what Syd Banks called “a nice feeling.” But there is no ultimate basis for grading the rightness of this decision. How could you or I judge? By whether or not the cancer returns? By whether or not a new treatment is discovered in six months? By how these journal entries affect an unknown reader? Will I meet my new best friend on the ferry one day en route to get my new boobs inflated? (Stay tuned. Or not. LOL)
“We’re all always doing our best. Full stop.”
There is no such thing as the “right way”
When it comes down to it, there is no such thing as the right way to do something; there is only the way we do it. The only justification I have for my choice to have a bilateral mastectomy is that I felt clear, grounded, and peaceful when I let myself want what I want.
And hey, if the best I could do happened to be to make a choice from a place of feeling, confused, ungrounded, and anxious, then that would have to be okay, too.
Because, as I wrote above, I see more clearly than ever that we truly are always doing our best all the time. The only thing that keeps us from seeing that are persistent fantasies and judgments about what our best ought to look like. Those fantasies and judgments are mental constructs, though, and they are utterly trumped by the reality of whatever we are up to in the moment.
I hope to serve, and sometimes I suck at it
As I reflect on my life, I see that I have always hoped to serve. I love it when sharing my experience helps others, and I feel so fortunate that for many years I have been able to earn my living by doing that.
But sometimes when I experience confusion or anxiety or any number of less than, in my opinion, admirable states of mind, I get seriously derailed. I start imagining that I have to get something right in order to be of service, and as soon as I’m on that track, I’m lost in endless self-absorption and self-criticism.
Which pretty much shuts down the creative process, prevents authentic connection and communication, and generates a seemingly accurate self-fulfilling prophecy of wasted potential, meaninglessness, and alienation.
And in those moments my life looks like a wasteland. The idea of service seems like a cruel delusion.
And that’s how it is for all of us. When we are lost, we see loss and waste.
But it’s not real
It sucks to feel like we suck. But the important thing to know about those self-fulfilling prophecies is that they are only seemingly accurate. Because our scary self-fulfilling prophecies are dreams. They are not real.
And sooner or later we come home to ourselves.
We come home sooner when we understand what is going on
We come home to ourselves sooner rather than later when we understand what is going on.
When we understand that, even though they feel very real and compelling in the moment, our fears and judgments are phantoms, we are less inclined to amplify and invest in them.
And like any fire that lacks fuel or oxygen, even the most intense emotional blaze passes when we don’t feed it.
It may burn for a while, but it will not burn forever.
What would you do if you didn’t have to get it right?
If any of this has resonated, I invite you to hold this question lightly. What would you do now if you didn’t have to get it right?
If no answer appears, that could be your answer. Nowhere is it written that you have to know what you are doing or why you are doing it. Wisdom runs deeper than language, and life is far more mysterious than that.
Talk back: I’d love to hear your thoughts and welcome them in the comments section. Also, if you would like to read my CaringBridge journal, it is being cross-posted to my blog at Owning Pink. owningpink.com/users/molly-gordon
It matters a great deal whether you see your clients and prospective clients as needy or whole. When you see and speak to their essential wholeness, you can make offers that are inherently more engaging and attractive.
As a coach I help my clients explore the immense practicality of joy. I point them to the spiritual principles behind the human experience. As their understanding deepens, their joy increases. They act with greater ease, creativity, grace, and wisdom. If this resonates and you’d like to have a conversation to see if we are fit, click here to visit my coaching page and schedule an interview.
Woohoo! The first in a series of free Happiness Hangouts happens this Friday, August 8, at 9:00am Pacific Daylight Time and YOU are invited.
Why? Because it happens that happiness doesn’t just feel good; it’s startlingly practical.
As the name suggests, Happiness Hangouts are all about happiness and its startling bearing on life and biz. We’ll look at:
Why happiness is a default, not a destination.
The relationship between happiness and wisdom.
How to use happiness as a navigational aid in life and business.
There will be some teaching and some coaching and some who-knows-what-else. Think insight meets pragmatism meets sassiness. (Hmmm. The term “wise sass” just occurred to me. I like that!)
How It Works
Happiness Hangouts will use Google’s Hangouts on Air technology to broadcast a live video feed of yours truly. You can watch the live feed on a page at my Web site or via Google+. If you have a Gmail account, I recommend the Google+ option, because you’ll be able to see and participate in the live chat.
In addition to watching, you can participate in the Hangout by teleconference. You’ll receive all the info about how to watch and/or call in when you sign up. You’ll get replay info as well.
Are you in?
Click the link below to sign up for the free Happiness Hangouts.
As best I can tell, this is the last regular issue of Authentic Promotion. Can you say, “Yowza!”?
It all started at the end of March during a retreat with my beloved Brain Trust*. As we talked about who I am and how I want to be in this, my 18th year as a coach, I realized that it was time to invoke the spirit of creativity and experimentation by letting go of this ezine and devoting myself to creating cool new stuff that will arouse, inform, entertain, and, one hopes, delight you.
You see, I love to make stuff. The photo in today’s issue is of the “vest” I made for my ’67 VW Beetle. I love to play with ideas, fiddle with designs, and experiment with new formats and media. In 1996, I put that love to work building my first website and convening conversations in early online communities such as womenconnect.com and AOL special interest groups. In 1998, I started this ezine, and in less than two years it was reaching over 12,000.
Back in the day, email newsletters were few and far between. Junk mail was sparse, and inboxes spacious. Since then, ezines have become as common as dust, and even when we value them–as I hope you have valued this one–they often languish unopened and unread. As open rates have declined, my sense of connection to you, my readers, has lessened. I don’t like the idea of adding every week to the clutter in your inboxes. I want to add value, not noise.
In the future, instead of a weekly ezine, you’ll receive an announcement whenever I’ve got a new cool thing to give you. An insightful interview. A provocative slidedoc. My latest cartoons. Heck, for all I know I’ll sing and dance for you, so long as I think it will serve you. In between cool things, I’ll let you know as usual when I offer a new product or program or when I come across something, whether it’s free or fee-based, that I think is worth your consideration.
I’m thrilled at the prospect of putting my creative energy to work in new ways to entertain, inform, provoke, and inspire you. Fans of my Facebook page are already seeing tidbits of creative goodness a few times a week. Check it out, and while you are there, feel free to post your questions and insights to the timeline. I would love to know what’s on your mind and in your heart. Oh, and if you haven’t already, be sure to give me a LIKE so that updates appear in your newsfeed, www.facebook.com/shaboominc.
I haven’t made any decisions about the blog. I rather think I’ll be posting the odd (!) insight, observation, or link from time to time. To subscribe, add this link to your blog reader: feed://shaboominc.com/wordpress/feed.
Whether you have been a reader since the early days or are a recent subscriber, I hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from what emerges in the days ahead. Meanwhile, thanks for coming along on the adventure.
*The members of the Brain Trust are
Michael Bungay Stanier, boxofcrayons.com
Eric Klein, wisdomheart.com
Michele Lisenbury Christensen, hotloverevolution.com
Jennifer Louden, jenniferlouden.com
Mark Silver, heartofbusiness.com
Not surprisingly, scarcity thinking came up during the Wealth Makeover calls last week. One common concern was how to meet financial setbacks without going into scarcity thinking.
During the calls we talked about the essential wholeness and wellbeing that is our factory default as human beings. How we are each an expression of and participant in the dance of creation, part of the formless energy or intelligence out of which everything arises and to which everything returns.
We talked about how the experience of scarcity or abundance is a function of thought, not circumstances. Consider how easy it is to be elated about getting a new client only to be deflated moments later by comparing yourself to someone else in your field.
Or how a funk about not being able to afford to travel more can give way to a wave of gratitude as you contemplate something you love about your home.
If you reflect for just a minute on your own experience, you can readily see that what seems like more than enough money in one moment can seem woefully inadequate in the next and vice versa as your thinking about your circumstances changes.
We live in the feeling of our thinking, not our circumstances.
At first blush it might seem that a smart approach to being happy and prosperous would be to manage your thinking. Think happy thoughts, have a happy life. Think prosperous thoughts, have a prosperous business.
In other words, just say no to scarcity thinking.
But it doesn’t work that way. (Besides, when you think about it, it’s kind of superstitious, don’t you think?)
It’s said that we have upwards of 80,000 thoughts a day. We notice and track only a tiny fraction of those. It’s simply not possible to manipulate your thinking to create the experiences you want.
Fortunately it’s also unnecessary.
You don’t have to fear scarcity thinking precisely because it is just thinking. And thinking can’t damage the wellbeing that is your factory default. At most it can only obscure it temporarily.
When you see that all that is going on when you’re afraid, angry, or insecure is that you’re experiencing your thinking, you can relax a bit, even though the experience may be quite intense.
When you remember that you are the thinker, you don’t need to fear the content of your thinking.
When you don’t fear or struggle with the content of your thinking, your mind is free and open to new thought, including the insight, wisdom, and common sense to live peacefully and well.
And that’s why you don’t need to fear scarcity thinking.