assumptions

What kinds of assumptions is your reality based on?

Personal note

The big storm of two weeks ago continues to have repercussions on the lives of those of us who were in its path.  Downed trees are gradually being removed, overwhelming email lists, building up during the power outage, have been reduced in size, and life is going on, with a few differences.  The major one is the realization of how much life can change in an instant as everything we assumed would support us disappears, thankfully temporarily.

This led me to thinking about the assumptions we all hold that we believe are “truths” about life; they bolster our concept of reality. They also become the walls of the prison we construct.

What kinds of assumptions is your reality based on?

Sometimes it takes an upheaval – a giant storm, an earthquake – to flip that switch in our heads that makes us see our world very differently.

After a recent storm, followed by a power outage, I met a man frantic to get the fallen tree blocking his garage door out of the way, so he could get his kids to a motel where they could watch TV, because he assumed they couldn’t be happy without it!  If he didn’t actually sit down with them, talk and figure out a way to play without power, he will never actually know the various ways in which his kids can be happy – and neither will they.

The loss of power just when I was really ramping up my business left me disoriented. Rather than moaning about it, I decided to assess my reaction to the loss of power and the subsequent sense of helplessness, and came up with these assumptions, all of which, I am happy to say, were simply illusions:

I can’t work on my business without lights, a computer, or a telephone.

Potentially disastrous response: sitting down and being depressed about inability to get anything productive done.
In fact, I started to clean my files and found important information, including lists of potential clients, that I had forgotten I had.  This information set me off on a new, and productive, path.
When the power was on, I was always too busy to go into these old files.

Since I can’t email, phone, or even open my garage door and get my car out, how can I meet new prospective clients?

Potentially disastrous response: …being depressed about inability to connect with people.
I took a walk in the park to survey the tree damage and met a new neighbor who walked with me.  We had a long walk and conversation in which we shared mutual interests; at the end, she took out her I-phone and put herself on the list for my ezine.
The storm and its damage forced me to take that leisurely walk. Slowing down and paying attention to what is right in your neighborhood is an eye opener.

With no stove and the food in the refrigerator rapidly deteriorating, how am I going to eat? Restaurants that I normally go to were far away – which brought up the no-power garage door situation again.

Potentially disastrous response:  Aaarrrggghh!
Now, I could probably live off my stored fat for at least a few days, so I wasn’t in danger of starvation, but I found on the first day that there were several small restaurants in my neighborhood (that I had, once again, never noticed) with – wonder of wonders -their own generators!   They served up delicious meals, and now I have a whole new repertory of places to go to when I am hurried, hungry, and wanting good nutrition.

Oh, no, the phone on which my business depends has gone out – again – and I will have to go through the telephone company’s tree of options to even speak to a live person.

Potentially disastrous response:  Running in small circles, accompanied by a high-pitched shriek.
Well, I did to through their tree of options once, but then I connected with the repairman for my area, who actually gave me his cell phone number so I could call him directly any time I have a problem with my line.

Life is better than I imagined when all of these events first struck.

Now, the aftermath of the storm almost feels like a little vacation, on which I could regain some good sense after a flurry of overwork.

Wouldn’t it be nice it we could all turn off the power in our heads, stop yearning for something somewhere else,  and be so relaxed that we noticed what was right under our noses all the time?

As Dorothy Gale said, in the Wizard of OZ, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, l won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there I never really lost it to begin with.”

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com

Who’s writing your life script?

Personal note

A delightful Easter brunch with a dear friend made up for the fact that it was cold as heck, even on the last day of March, when last year at this time the daffodils were up.

But Spring will surely come, as it always does; there will be daffodils, and lilacs, too.

It’s just as well that it’s late, too, with the flurry of activity that is demanding my attention this Spring: seminars on The Angina Monologue, workshops on Be Your Own Best Caretaker, and my new program, The Confident Introvert, which is shaping up to be very exciting.

So it’s important to get everything in place before those delightful summer days come, with their invitation to throw everything over, say “What the heck,” and go for a walk in the park.

If you want to get your life “tidied up” before the days of summer so that you can relax, consider my free program that I’m offering this month:

April is “Coming Out” month for introverts. What – you haven’t signed up yet for my FREE teleseminar series?

It’s not too late to register. All sessions are recorded, so that you can listen to them later. If you haven’t already registered, do it now, listen to the previous session on your own schedule, and gain entrance to these upcoming sessions:

Coming up on Wednesday, April 10, at 8 p.m.:
Throw off Your Cloak of Invisibility
Aren’t you tired of being overlooked? Seeing other people get credit for ideas and expertise, when you know you have more to offer?

And on Wednesday, April 24, at 8 p.m.:
Questions you always wanted to ask about introverts, but didn’t know who to ask.

Send in your questions about anything about the introvert experience to me (Lynette@CreativeLifeChanges.com) at any time during the series and I will answer them in this last session.

And be sure to show up for this last session, and stay till the end, when I have a free gift for you and an exiting offer.

They are all teleseminars, and they’re all FREE.

Sign up now!

Links to hear Lynette:
Hear more about The Confident Introvert book and programs in this interview with Mary O’Keefe, of Wellness Within:
http://webtalkradio.net/internet-talk-radio/2013/03/18/hope-healing-and-wellbeing-the-confident-introvert-with-lynette-crane/

Interview with Lori Campbell, Visionary Gerontologist, in whose book, Awaken Your Age Potential, I have a chapter:
http://www.agepotential.com/category/agepotentialtv/ or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kJxc4PE7_4

Who’s writing your life script?

We all live our lives based on assumptions – beliefs we are sure are true about what we are capable of doing, what is acceptable for us to do, and what we think is inevitable. So where do those assumptions come from?

I thought of this while attending a play last week. 

The central characters were an 80-year old man and a 70-something woman, who meet in a dog park. It was sweet, it was touching … and it went nowhere. Well, actually, she went off to Milan to hear an opera at the world-famous opera house he had always dreamed of visiting, but never had. He stayed on the park bench.

We could focus on the theme of people who dream but never take action, but for me it was this recurrent theme that two older people have all the elements of a fine romance, but never follow through on them, at least within the play, movie, or television program we see. One of them dies, or goes off to Milan, or the moon, but we never see them embracing. We never, ever, see them consummating their love.

How many of us accept this kind of ending without question?

My question was: how old was the playwright?

A broader question is this: whose point of view are we learning? When we see, hear, or read a drama, we are being moved emotionally (if it is any good). The creator is giving us a snapshot of life – his or her life, NOT OURS.

As I pointed out to a friend who criticized my move back to my home town after years in California, “You Can’t Go Home Again” is a book title, not a universal truth. She was shocked and surprised.

Everything we consume – not just food, but media in all forms – affects us.  We need to pay attention to the beliefs and attitudes we are taking into our interior just as we are concerned about the foods we take into our bellies. So when you are entranced, or even hypnotized, by a work of art, pause and ask yourself, “Who created this?” And then consider the following questions:
How old was this person? What gender? May or may not be relevant.

What culture or sub-culture does this person represent? (Be careful here; sometimes we are most blind to assumptions that arise from our own culture, and therefore prone to accept them easily.)

What trends do you see or hear over and over again? As I’ve pointed out, according to the media, older people don’t make love. Repetition doesn’t necessarily make a concept true.

Anything else you can find out about the creator may help you to appreciate the work in its context, without necessarily making it your context. Because what you believe is what you will live.

We are what we eat holds true here, too.

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com

Take charge of your stressful assumptions

Personal note

Last week was a whirlwind of activity, ending with the Bloomington Writers’ Festival (9thyear!) on Saturday.

It was inspiring to see so many writers proudly displaying their creations, which were often based on personal experiences that would have felled a lesser person.

I was there as a volunteer, checking people in, along with many friends from WOW (Women of Words), a  group of women who continue to grow and prosper in astonishing ways through mutual support and sharing.  I am a WOW member and profoundly grateful for that privilege, without which I would not be where I am now.

Take charge of your stressful assumptions

It has been said that the bulk of aggression in the world is the result of poor communication.  Sometimes the wrong words are chosen; sometimes the wrong words are heard.

In addition to someone producing a communication and another person hearing that communication, there is another layer: the assumptions we make about what we hear.  We assume a certain intent, a possible threat, and then we create stories around what that is going to mean to us – in the future.

Someone once compared this process to looking at a door of a house and imagining all the rooms behind that door, their furnishings, and the activities that take place in those rooms.  It’s a lovely creative process, but in communication it is misplaced.  We not only set in motion stressful processes that undermine our health and age our bodies, but we set in motion actions that can undermine and even destroy relationships.

Why do we do this?  It’s a form of self defense:  a pre-emptive strike to protect ourselves against the possibility of threat.  It not only doesn’t work, but it may make us feel even more threatened than before.  Sharon Ellison, expert on non-defensive communication (www.pndc.com/) notes that confidence, competence, and even the ability to learn diminish after responding in a defensive manner.

Here are some steps to take when a communication seems to be causing you stress:

Pause and consider what the threat seems to be:  The pause is important because the urgent feeling that stress produces in us often causes us to take action first, and reflect later.

In your pause, consider how you are feeling.  Sad?  Scared?  Angry?  Did you feel your attractiveness or your skills were being underrated because the speaker praised someone else, or offered you some advice?  Did you then assume that the relationship was going to proceed, or even escalate, into something even more negative?

Ask yourself if this has happened before, and if so, how often?  The more often this same thing has happened in your life, the more likely it is that the challenge is within yourself, not in the other person.

Ask questions to clarify: If someone says, “There’s another way to do that,” and you feel a flash of anger at the implied criticism, you could ask, “Are you critical of the way I am doing this?”  You may find that the other person is surprised at the impact of what seemed, to the speaker, to be an informative remark.  You can now have a more open discussion about what’s really going on.

Reflect:  Ask yourself, “Is this episode worth my attention?”  “Is the person or activity important enough to me that I am going to spend time worrying or worse yet, avoiding a situation I might otherwise have enjoyed?”

Communicate/Negotiate:  It takes a certain amount of courage to say, “When you said  … , I felt…. (sad, angry, depressed, etc).”  The other person may be genuinely startled at this revelation, having intended something else entirely.

Ask for the change you would like:  “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t criticize me in front of other people. Perhaps you could take me aside and tell me your concerns.”

Take action:  Inaction is sometimes appropriate: you decide no action is necessary because it’s not worth the battle or it isn’t high on your list of priorities.

But if the situation is important enough to you, suggest two outcomes:  “If you continue to criticize me in front of others, I don’t want to work with you any more.  But if you handle it the way I suggested, I would enjoy continuing to work with you.”

Notice that “take action” is the last step.  It’s that old problem: the urgency of the stress response. We feel something must be done right now or else … or else what?

We go off and feel less confident, less competent, and even a little stupid?  How is this a win?

Instead of creating and furnishing mental “houses” filled with potential strife, save your creative abilities for activities that bring genuine value to your life and to the world.

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