Now that you know your approach, it’s time to learn from it.
Last month we talked tortoises, hares, and ostriches. Sounds a bit like Dorothy’s lions and tigers and bears, and maybe it is just a bit. Dorothy and her friends feared the lions, tigers, and bears they thought they may encounter, and we, too, fear lack of progress with our goals. When we realize that’s exactly what’s happening, we show up as a tortoise, hare, or ostrich. None of these approaches is ideal, but it’s how many of us show up as we deal with the frustration of not achieving what it is we most want.
Being aware of our default approach is the first step to overcoming it so we can then move to a more effective practice. Gaining that awareness is what we worked on last month.
This month is all about application. Now that we know our default approach and understand it’s not working in our favor, how do we change that approach and actually apply the change we commit to?
Commit to focusing on feelings and the thoughts that trigger them.
The first step in applying a new approach is committing to a focus on feelings. I probably lost a few of you right there, but stick with me. Feelings aren’t all bad. The question to ask yourself is, “How do I feel when I show up as a tortoise/hare/ostrich?”
Some examples to consider.
When I avoid what I really need to do, I feel ashamed.
When I people please, I feel desperate.
When I stay in my comfort zone, I feel restless.
When I race through my to-do items, I feel exhausted.
When I continue working even while sick, I feel drained.
When I don’t take the time to let my best ideas marinate, I feel anxious.
When I push something out for the world to see and then pull it back before it can be judged, I feel confused.
When I run around all day with no breaks at all, I feel tired.
When I hold back and then wonder why I’m not making any progress, I feel concerned.
Take some time to dig deep and recognize the feelings you experience when you’re in tortoise, hare, or ostrich mode.
And now that you’ve got your feelings identified, it’s time to move to thoughts. What thoughts do you have that prompt the feelings you’ve identified?
Again, some examples for you.
I feel ashamed when I think, “I’m not someone who follows through on what I say I’ll do.”
I feel desperate when I think, “I really want her/him/them to like me so I’ll forgo what I’m supposed to do to help her/him/them instead.”
I feel restless when I think, “Another week with no progress. I wish I could figure this out.”
I feel exhausted when I think, “I feel like I’m the only one who can’t take a break every once in a while. I’m always in go mode, but it’s not helping.”
I feel drained when I think, “I really thought I could make it through the day, but I’m not even sure I’ll be able to drive myself home given the way I feel now.”
I feel anxious when I think, “I put my idea out there for the world to see, but I’m not getting any likes or comments from anyone. What am I doing wrong?”
I feel confused when I think, “I want my followers to see this because I’m really proud of it, but I don’t want more negative feedback so maybe I’ll just wait on this.”
I feel tired when I think, “The early bird gets the worm, but so does the bird who keeps moving all day long. Can’t stop now!”
I feel concerned when I think, “I’m the only one who can’t seem to figure out how to get what I want in life.”
It’s how our brains work.
It’s easy to see why these thoughts and feelings aren’t going to help you get to your goal, but there’s no need to fret. These are simply the unintentional thoughts and feelings our brain has. It’s the way our brains are designed. They work hard to keep us in safe, familiar, comfortable territory, and when they do, it’s the path of least resistance so we listen to them.
Acknowledge your feelings and then move forward.
Those who have figured out the tricks of the brain, though, also understand how to move past those unintentional thoughts and feelings. A simple way to get this started is to ask yourself two questions:
- How do I want to feel about my progress toward my goal?
- What do I need to think in order to feel that way?
Some answers about feelings I’ve heard from clients I’ve worked with include:
Some answers about thoughts I’ve heard from clients:
- “Hmmm…what I’ve tried hasn’t worked. What can I tweak to see if it helps me get the result I want?”
- “I’m getting it! It’s not all working, but each day I learn more and get closer to my goal.”
- “There is no wrong way to do this. And that’s the best part!”
- “I’m not a person who accepts the status quo. Always growing is my motto!”
- “I can visualize myself achieving my goal, and I know I’m going to make it happen.”
Thoughts and feelings like these are nourishing. They are superfoods for our brain, and it is by making the deliberate choice to focus on thoughts and feelings—rather than just the actions we’re taking—that gets us where we want to be—achieving our goals like nobody’s business!