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Pair #42 I just can't help thinking...
One of the things I’ve learned to do in the last few years (with some practice) is to identify some of my ‘stinking thinking’.  I’ve learned to be discern better when I am hitting myself with my own stick ... so let’s say I feel a bit tired, it's nice to tell the difference between real physical exhaustion and the kind of tiredness that comes from whatever I am thinking.  Or repeatedly thinking.  Let me explain.

When we are telling ourselves things like “oh, no, not another day with more to do that I’ll ever get done!” it’s not all that surprising that our physical bodies feel sluggish or that we have an overwhelming need to go back to bed - or just not get up today.

I’ve often encouraged my clients and students to do exercises that help them to distinguish thoughts that precede feelings as a way of experiencing first-hand how their own feelings and thoughts are linked.  And how they experience that link.
If you are doing any thought monitoring, you will notice that can be very useful. 

However, we thinkers like to think and can start over-thinking our thinking. 

For example, a true fear response or gut reaction may not need processing. Nobody needs to analyze their thoughts about a house fire... "Hm, I wonder if I should leave now?" They need to be able to rely on a flight-or-flight response to get the heck out of the burning building now.  If someone is drowning, overthinking why we are concerned for their safety would just be silly.  Equally, with peaceful thoughts. How much thinking about that do we need? They feel good.  That’s good enough for me.

Checking in with thoughts can be as quick as 'is this really true?' or it can take some examination ‘Now, what was the thought that was just before this feeling of....X'

The usefulness of such a practice is not to make us think about everything we do and be in analysis all the time, but rather to get more adept at seeing how feelings arise from thoughts rather than things.

For me what this creates greater awareness.  Awareness means more choice. And more choice means more freedom.

And I like that a lot.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #41 Standing at the edge of the familiar ready to slay a few dragons
Today on the show Michael Bungay Stanier and I did, admittedly, go off on a wee bit of a rant.

We were chatting on the show about his book, “Do More Great Work” (you can hear the show here).  Besides the great exercises for stepping out of busy and into meaningful work, one of the things I loved about the book were the nuggets of wisdom from Michael. 

One that struck me in particular is that when you are engaged in ‘Great Work” it often takes you to the edge of your known world.  In other words you have to be courageous enough to be uncomfortable sometimes if you are going to do what really matters. It tends to stretch you beyond your competency.

Yet when we talk about “Great” or doing “Great Work” it might sound as if you are trying for some standard of excellence. Striving for a new form of perfection called ‘Great Work.’  But this is not the case.  You don’t have to be great, or perfect, or fixed up in any way to do something meaningful.  In fact, Perfectionism and what Michael termed “the Cult of Excellence” are the enemies of Great Work, precisely because we are very unlikely to be able to both stretch into the unknown and do things perfectly at the same time.

I love the idea that you do not need to be a different person to make a difference.  Although, you just may need to be a fed up person who doesn’t want to settle for less any longer. 

Fed up just enough to keep going right to the edge of your world. 

Here’s one of my yellow highlights from Michael’s book:

“You may have heard that when ancient mapmakers ran up to the very edge of the known world, they would write Hic Sunt Dracones, or “here there be dragons.”

May we all face them more often. 

More on perfectionism
(and only a wee bit of ranting...)


© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #40 Should-ing all over yourself
Self Care? Oh, I highly recommend it.

For me.

However, for about 20 years I tried (um, read “failed”) to establish a regular routine of either yoga or meditation or both. I had heard about and believed in both as good things I could do for myself.  My very earnest attempts at this however,  are best summed up not under the heading The Art and Science of Self Care but rather as Elese's Awesome Intentions and Marvelous Wishful Thinking.

My self-care rallying cry was, “I really should do this.”

I hear this a lot from clients who come for coaching.  We will delve into an area of their life that isn’t working, and it will become clear that the reason they are feeling increased stress, or are suddenly less able to maintain their cool with the kids, is because they are not taking good care of themselves.  When they realize they’ve not been going for walks, not reading, not singing or whatever it is that nourishes them, usually the first thing out of their mouths is, “ Yeah, I know, I really should do this.”

Now, that may be perfectly true.  Maybe they should. Whatever that means. I thought I should meditate but that never helped me to actually create a regular practice.  Here's the skinny as far as I'm concerned...
  • Everyone who has a gym membership and doesn’t go tells themselves they should. 
  • Everyone who wants to take vacation and doesn’t tells themselves they should.
  • Everyone who has an addiction at some point, tells themselves they shouldn’t.

“Should”  and “shouldn’t” sound accurate (especially when it come to over-eating and exercise) but they just don’t work to make us do it. They work really well to make us feel bad though!  And from what I see,  I can never feel bad enough about something to make myself do it.

Fast forward to today.

For the past 4 years I’ve had a daily meditation practice of 20 minutes (sometimes 10 and sometimes 5, I’ll admit) but I rarely miss a day.  How did I do that?  I started taking notice of what my life was like when I did it, and what it was like when I didn’t. No big deal really.  I noticed how much easier my day was when I did meditate.   I tuned into that, without really trying to make myself do it, and then apparently I just continued.  I continue to continue, I’ve noticed.

My recipe for doing something you are avoiding but that you think will nourish you, support you and make your life easier? Observe.  Notice your life with it.  Notice your life without it.  

Think of it as a Science Experiment.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #39  Put up and Shut Up
I keep a few sticky notes around my desk to remind me of what's important to me.  You see, sometimes my mind doesn't really remember the bigger picture, the higher purpose or the wider context of my life and so I've just installed instant recall of my own simple truths. 

Most of these notes are from my personal learnings, like 'everything is for good' others are nuggets of wisdom that I like such as 'communicate with a request or a promise.'  All of them are within quick glance so that if I am rushing or have a tough day, I have these sanity grabbers.

A few weeks ago I put a new one on the monitor right in front of where I set up my laptop.  It was the focus for that day and it said:

"FOCUS: Be Even More Helpful"

Today I walked into the office and before I picked up the phone for my first client call, I took a pen to that particular sticky note, added a colon, and just below  "Be Even More Helpful:"  I wrote:

"Shut Up."

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #38 You are the one you've been looking for
“What can other teachers do?  If they don’t know for themselves, they are just swallowing other people’s saliva.”   - Yun-Men*

Enlightenment. Sometimes I think the word should come with instructions and a Surgeon General’s label. "Warning. May cause extreme bloating of ego."  Or, "Warning, May cause sanity defects."

The reason I think striving for something called enlightenment is so damaging to one’s health is that it sends us into paralysis. It is the disease of the seeker, who must by necessity, seek.  Maybe we’ll wave a quick hello to acceptance, rest and peace as we dash down the road toward the destination called Somewhere Better. 

There is no need to put off anything until such a time as we become a better person, a holier person, or a more enlightened person.   I realized that I will not find love, be able to help people more, make more money, or change the world when I am all fixed up.  Being fixed up isn't required. In fact, the last person I want to come and help me, frankly, is that perfect person (you know the one!).

Only an ego puffed on self-importance could ever think up the idea that you must be in a high place before you can engage fully and be of assistance to others.   What better mechanism to keep a narcissistic, self-absorbed, know-it-all ego firmly in place than the concept of an enlightened state, which will be reached someday in the future.
 
 
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Pair #37 Don't Look Down!
Things happen every day that we do not like.

Maybe something small, like getting a paper cut or breaking a nail.  Annoying, but no big deal.  And then there are the bigger things: plummeting stocks, an unexpected vet bill, something major goes wrong with your car... on and on.

We can't rid ourselves of annoyances.  Things happen that we cannot control, no matter how much we try to.

If my plane is late or cancelled, I understand that I can't fix or change as I stand at the ticket desk.  But as I stand there, who will I be?   I could have any number of experiences, from fury to friendliness, from annoyance to understanding.  I can just as well say to myself, "These things happen," as"This is always happening to me!"

No matter what our 'personality type' we are still choosing our focus.

Focus on certain things will leave us feeling relaxed.  Focus on other things will leave us tense. We know this because we can use devices like visualizing petting the cat or to breathing as we envision the tension flow out our feet and into the ground. We can just touch base with something we appreciate like having great friends (or reminding myself how lucky I am that just spent an entire week with my Dad). Feeling grateful and annoyed at the same time is actually impossible. Or we can empathize with others, looking around to find those who are having a worse time than we are or imagining what it's like to be the ticket agents who have to be the brunt of people's frustrations every day.

These techniques that bring us back to the moment, calm us down, and restore our sanity, won't wipe out stock losses, get planes off the ground or stop time.  But they do feel better.

And I'll tell you what else feels better to me: to know that I have a choice.

And yunno, if I want to feel bad,  I know just how to do that too.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #36 I'm dead serious.
Sometimes I can take life so seriously.  

It is good to be reminded that it’s OK to forget my persona and just enjoy myself.

When I think of all the energy I have put into things like a serious career, a serious relationship or even a serious wardrobe - I notice that time has a way of just gently correcting my perspective and putting everything in it’s rightful place.

None of these things really turned out to make differences in the ways I thought they might.  I thought I could get a sense of self and importance that I could count on.  Somehow. (How exactly did I think that would work?)

I am not saying there is anything wrong with gravitas, or any of these things I focused on.  I rather have enjoyed my career, my relationship and my wardrobe.  But were they ‘serious’? Uh, I don’t think so.

Steve Chandler is here speaking at Supercoach Academy and his way of teaching our coaches to step forward into life and into powerful coaching so delightfully pokes fun at all the ways we take ourselves too seriously, that I can’t help but review my life and wonder what the heck I was thinking.

Taking a moment to chuckle - just a little bit - at all the foibles I recognize in myself is a great way to be gentle and kind to me.  Maybe I don’t need self love so much as a good sense of humor.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #35 Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Do you experience stress when making decisions?  I've been thinking about the decision-making process and  there are two things I notice.  One is that the stress is highest while we are thinking about the need to decide (but not making the decision) and the stress disappears as soon as we make a decision. 

In short the time we most suffer is during the time we are feeling uncertain. So over the last two weeks, I've been testing out two ways to do uncertainty:  Being unsure and taking action (forward movement) and being unsure and not taking action (stasis).

We are always in one of those two places. I can't see any in-between.

To illustrate.  Let's say, you are in uncertainty about whether or not to stay in a relationship with someone.  If you date someone and you are not sure they are right for you, but don't break up with them - that would constitute being unsure but taking no action. 

Here's the odd thing, though, no matter how often you repeat: "Oh, I don't know what to do!" what you might notice is that actually, a decision has been made.  Until you leave, you’ve clearly decided to stay. For now.  

Given this, I think perhaps what frees us up most is not the moment that we finally make the cut one way or the other, but is the clarity to notice and to understand that actually we have already decided.  And then realizing we can decide again. And again. And again.  Decisions are only right now. Not forever.

Noticing this also does something else, it reminds us that we have the power and that each moment is new. We are actually making decisions all the time in this way. We answer the phone, we don't, we order one thing and not another. Where does this information come from? "Deciding?"

Byron Katie used to confuse me when she'd say, "I don't decide to stand up.  I look around and I notice I am standing."  It took me a while to see what this meant.  Here is how I finally got what she was talking about.

Sit down and then try to make your body stand up by using your power of decision - by deciding to moving each muscle you that need to use to stand  - What happens? Where will you begin?  Which muscle will you consciously need to decide to move first? What happens if you decide to move a different one?

In the end we are in a constant state of choosing and it's easy to see those choices by looking at where we are.  The nice thing to know is that we can chose again, right now.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #34 Please Place Your Oxygen Mask Over Your Nose and Mouth
Self Help is pretty much what it says on the tin isn’t it?  Helping the self.   So is that ultimate selfishness, or ultimate responsibility?

If you stop to think about it, self-help leads directly back to one's own navel pretty fast.  In the midst of an "it's all about me" culture, Self Help seems to make sense.  Yet, some of the most fulfilled lives have been spent considering, fighting for, writing about and trying to understand others.

What then, of the  Oxygen Mask idea?   Put your own mask on so you don’t snuff it before you even get the chance to assist someone else.  Doesn't that suggest that selfishness is almost required before you can assist another?...
 
 
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Pair #33  I'm unhappy, you're unhappy, sign here...
As someone who spent quite a bit of time supporting causes of all kinds, I can say I paid my dues to the "We're Pissed And We Are Not Going To Take It Any More!" Club.  If there had been an award points program for righteous indignation, I'd be a Life-Long Platinum Club card holder.

So this last week when the theme for the radio show was "Hot Pursuit of Happiness", it really hit me... I always assumed I needed to be unhappy about something in order to change it.  In fact, the more angry I was, the better an activist I felt.

I was wrong. 

It has not escaped me that we have not essentially changed much in any of the causes I campaigned for using my fists. That doesn't mean things haven't changed at all.  Women have more rights. In some places Gay people have more rights. In some places you can live without 'being disappeared' one day. And it doesn't mean that a picture of a starving child plastered on the news won't mobilize the sympathies and pocket books of millions of people for the right cause.

But we can do all of that, anytime we like without the anger.  We can change anything we want without being sad, depressed or upset about it.  We can do it because we want to. That’s enough.

As my friend Jacob Glass was talking about in his lecture this week: to teach happiness, we need to be happy teachers.  I think to teach peace we need to be peaceful people.  Jacob is right when he says that somewhere in the midst of devastation somewhere in the world, people are most probably not wishing and hoping that "that angry, depressed guy comes back to help us out.’"

Now I know that I can be part of the solution to any problem, anytime if I want to and decide to.

I think we can change the world. One mind at a time. Starting with our own.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.