Chronic Hesitater No More

November 9, 2012

              Changes! This Hesitater is Shifting!
When I started this blog in April 2011, I was taking a stand for those of us who have trouble getting stuff done. I wanted to explore why and how I have hesitated in life, and what I was doing about it. Writing about this was a great way to come clean about this and it helped me focus.
And something interesting happened along the way….

Through some pretty great work on my (inner) skittish self, I found that the term, Chronic Hesitater, just doesn’t fit me anymore. Though I occasionally fall back into old patterns, I am living much more in the active present, leaving behind that ancient baggage. To quote another good blogger, Laurie Sutton, “I was amazed that the process was not so much about resolving old issues as it was about seeing that those issues had no real power over me in the present.”  All the ideas I’ve described in these posts have made a difference. I have been able to shift my beliefs to a newer better more creative mindset.

And one result of this is that:

I’m happy to announce that you now can find me at janmcclain.com–my new website about what I really love to do: coaching and writing about relationships, both with others and with our own selves. Connections that matter.

Come on over and see my new digs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mind Shift: Changing Just One Belief

February 6, 2012

What are the consequences

of thinking

that your intelligence or personality

is something

you can develop,

as opposed to something

that is

a fixed, deep-seated trait?

Carol Dweck


Yes! Personal Accountability for the Easily Discouraged

January 20, 2012

I’ve recently learned something about myself. (I think we have already established that I have been a rather slow learner!) I am seeing a long-term pattern and figuring out how to shift it.

The Issue

Of course, I know that accountability is a good thing, and I feel better when I am tracking my goals and behavior. It’s just that I seem to give up after awhile or start ignoring my carefully thought out system. This has been true for New Year’s Resolutions, diets, exercise plans, to do lists, etc.

I just stop doing or tracking–or both.

When I come out of my amnesia, and “own up” to the fact that I haven’t been doing and tracking, I enter a new round of, “What is the matter with you?!” “Why can’t you stick to things?!” (“Like others do.”) The inner conversation can go on for hours, but the gist is: I’m a bad person for not being consistent.

What I’ve Learned

But this past year, I’ve found that I can just skip that whole judgment and comparison step and move right on to accepting that I like novelty and creativity even in the mundane. And I can even use my fickle inconsistency to actually do more. If the tracking has gone cold, I can move right on to the next “OOOOOh, Shiny” thing. That can get me where I want to go.

Doing that invigorates me and I get right back on track.

Example

I’ve been tracking my positivity for a long time with Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity Ratio. It has helped me to significantly raise the happiness bar in my life. But for awhile now, I’ve just not been doing it. It does not have resonance for me now. The same thing goes for the checklist I was using for getting basic things done.

So I’m experimenting this month; I’m tracking the times I say “Yes” at the decision points in a day. “Yes” to exercise, connecting with others, taking time for me, great jokes–anything that enhances my life.

It’s a little personal contest–how many times of YES can I cram in each day? It is fun to see the #.

This is the next new Shiny for me–I’ll let you know how it works.


Happy New Year: May You Have Inner Peace

December 31, 2011

I love a fresh new year–not so much for the resolutions–but as a chance to look at the last year with perspective. And then I like to imagine the year ahead. I often look through old, saved quotes and notes, too.

From Sarah Suzanka’s book, The Not So Big Life, I read “Symptoms of Inner Peace,” by Saskia Davis © 1984, and it was delightful. (I first published this thinking the author was Suzanka, but this list is edited from the original, longer work by Davis at http://www.symptomsofinnerpeace.net.)

Here’s to 2012!

May you have–

  • A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than act in response to fears based on past experiences
  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
  • A loss of interest in judging other people
  • A loss of interest in judging oneself
  • A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others
  • A loss of ability to worry
  • Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with others and with nature
  • Frequent attacks of smiling

 


Specific Thanks

November 21, 2011

Yes!  I’m deeply thankful for the usual things——my health, my loves, my work, my joy.

This year I have a specific sense of appreciation for the people and the techniques and tools that have helped me to

  • accept my past as a chronic hesitater

and and and and

  •  move beyond that to some pretty awesome living/coaching/delight.

What specific thing are you thankful for this year?


The Necessary Step

November 14, 2011

 

 

Joy arrives, not when our goals are realized, but when we finally choose to step onto the road toward our dreams.”

Tara Sophia Mohr

 


Thinking Clearly in Anxious Times

October 4, 2011

It’s pretty clear to all of us that these are anxious times–we watch the news, look online, see the latest statistics, drive by the foreclosure signs. By the time we get to work (if we have a job) we’re freaking out.

And for those of us who are more susceptible to our environments: what we see externally we easily absorb.

This downward emotional spiral about things we can’t control can quickly devolve into a dark pit, interfering with our work and our relationships.Then, we’re not our best even in our immediate environments, where we do have choices.

When we’re anxious, we know we can’t think straight. I had a friend describe it as peanut butter in the brain–gumming up the works.

So what is deal with the brain that it can so quickly loses its mojo?

We know that the brain’s limbic (emotional) system is the part that is easily upset–if it sees, hears, feels something disturbing, it immediately goes into high alert mode, sometimes in milliseconds.

It is the scaredy-cat.

And the limbic system is where all those old triggers–patterns of experience that we have, over our lifetimes, tagged as dangerous–are stored. So our old issues can be stirred up if someone just looks at us like our 5th grade teacher.

And that’s the problem, because “When the limbic system gets overly aroused, it reduces the resources available for prefrontal cortex functions” (the part of the brain that thinks, that understands, that decides, etc).

I wrote about this several weeks ago in Label It: Zapping Emotional Overload Fast, but I keep coming back to this as I work with my clients and as I deal with myself. Thanks to David Rock’s great book, The Brain At Work, I’m getting clearer about what to do at the very beginning of an upset—-when there is no time for deep meditation, spa music, or a call to my BFF.

Just time for some deep breaths and a thought.

The really good news is that the instant arousal can be quickly reversed if we know what to do. If we can get the limbic system to fold quickly, then the thinking brain can take over.

Okay, so what’s the toggle switch?

Words.

Simple words or phrases that inform the nervous limbic system that it’s okay to stand down. As David Rock says, “Describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.”

Saying, “Oh, I’m nervous,” can free the brain to actually think about what to do next.

Somehow this acknowledgment provides a bit of reassurance, something the limbic deeply needs. It is not the certainty of the external world, but the interior calming of that part.

When a client called, completely upset about her teenage son’s relapse in behavior, she got much calmer when I helped her find the words–”Just one day.” No need to blow this situation into fears of a lifetime of behavior; repeating the mantra “Just one day” enabled her to get off the phone and on to work.

A woman working on project for a close friend found herself being abrupt and short with her. When she just said, “I’m anxious,” the conversation immediately shifted to real problem-solving.

If you can find simple, even simplistic words or phrases to describe what you are feeling, you will have more brain to work with. You will be on to some really intelligent thinking.

It will not change anxious times, just the anxiety within.


Put The Uniform On: Get Stuff Done

September 25, 2011

 

This is such an obvious idea for a hesitater, that I hesitate to mention it (groan). But  I just realized yesterday how much it makes a difference:

I was strolling around the house with my white comfy robe on, wanting/needing to get something done, and not doing anything much. Couldn’t really get going.

When I got dressed for work/exercise, I suddenly was ready to do stuff.

As I pulled the clothes out of the closet–I thought of two instances in the past 24 hours when I had seen the effect of specific clothes.

    • Maria Bello commented  on Friday’s Today show about  deciding to wear a fedora as her new TV character. She felt it just said “attitude.”
    • In the impressive documentary, The Interrupters, a former drugged out felon smiled at the camera, so proud to be wearing the uniform of his transportation guard job.

I seem to have amnesia about this sometimes, but dressing the “part” affects my actual work output.

 

Do you have clothes that influence how/how much you get done? Anything funny or weird?


Not This Again: Confessions of Stuck Blogger

September 13, 2011


Okay. Okay. I’m sure everyone else could have figured this out: putting up a Chronic Hesitater Blog (if I indeed really was a hesitater) was going to bring out all the previously-thought-to-have-been-handled-stuff at some point.

But somehow I didn’t see this coming.

It has been exciting to be putting out good workable ideas that have helped my clients and me. I know I have something powerful that helps people who don’t go charging off into Life.

But now, I have suddenly been hesitating, big time, about this blog. Haven’t written  a thing–even a draft–in a while. Just now I’m writing this in a free-writing journal.

This is more than a benign pause.

I can feel the weight of my self-imposed deadlines and goals.

Stuck.

I have lot of ideas of what to write.

I’ve been reading many other blogs and tweets and Facebook quotes. I’ve learned more that I thought I ever wanted to about SEO and apps and getting everyone to your site and tweet chats and why you should want to immediately monetize your blog because you know you need these bells and whistles and some people get retweeted all the time and there’s a lot of great writing out there and, and, and…..

Listen to it.

Oh.
—————
So after writing that last sentence, I went back to reading my previous blogs. I took my own advice.

“What Will Other People Say?”: Shrinking Those Fears About Others was especially helpful. I woke up suddenly to  what I needed to do. I followed the instructions right on the page just as if I was reading it for the first time. Got into the process. The images were so huge at first–all those thumbnail pictures of expert twitters, amazing apps, and pages were magnified. I let myself feel the childlike fear and then shrank it. (If this makes no sense, check out the post.)

What a relief!

I had my brain back (well, my pre-frontal cortex). I had been lost in a technological maze with an added twist of  “I’m not adequate.”  I had just dragged the old  worn-out baggage to the party.

Well, that’s nuts. I’m a beginner. I can go to the edge of my comfort zone, learn a ton and still be me.

I’m in the game again. Enjoying my own rhythm and swing.

 

What about you? Does this resonate? How have you dealt with tech overwhelm?

 

 

 

 


Absolutely Maybe

August 31, 2011

Last week’s NYT article asked, “Do You Suffer from Decision Fatigue?” and I of course answered, “Yes, sometimes.”

It was a great article, with lots of relevant information for those of us who sometimes hem and haw (Grandma–Is this your language?!). I’ve been thinking about the ideas in it for several days, and they will probably show up in several blog posts.

(Digression alert)

But just now I HAD to stop writing and look up hem and haw, because it feels so weird that that particular phrase came out when I started to write.

Turns out, according to the Word Detective, these two words sound like “Ahem” (a slight cough) and “Uh”—- types of sounds people make when they want to avoid telling you something.

The analysis  of this phrase ends with this paragraph:

“So, put together, “hem and haw” vividly describes that moment when our mouth stalls for time while our mind attempts to assess the ramifications of our possible answers, the mental “looking” before the verbal “leaping.” And while it’s annoying to ask a question and be answered with “hemming and hawing,” there’s an argument to be made that the world could do with a little less instant certainty.”

Yes!!

I’m taking a stand right here for hesitaters everywhere. There is a time for pausing, for hemming and hawing even, especially when experiencing decision fatigue.

As the Times article explains, “The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts…. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?)”