Kaizen Principle Week 3: Think Small Thoughts

So after another week of keeping weight off my foot (week two of “No Exercise,” by podiatrist order), I’ve come to see this challenge as an opportunity to lighten my load both mentally and emotionally. Now that I’ve been forced/encouraged by the universe to slow down physically, I can consider bringing this concept to other areas of my life. Rather than fight it, gnashing my teeth, I can embrace it.

So what I’ve noticed this week, is not so much what’s on my plate, but rather what I tell myself about what’s on my plate.  I’ve started examining the impact of these thoughts on my well-being. To the best of my ability, I was able to step to the side, and like an innocent bystander, witness the collision of my commentary, beliefs, reactions, and stories. This set in motion a remarkable momentum; a veritable 5 car pile up. I am fascinated by what
I find; it’s the stories we tell ourselves which cause the most stress and strain in our lives. Stories about ourselves fashioned from beliefs from the past can steal the vitality and joy from our everyday lives. For example, I can review my things to do list, which on some days feels as weighty as the NY Yellow Pages, from a place of stress and concern. I query, “Will I get done?”, feeling resentful and angry. “Why should I have so much to do?”, I whine.. Alternatively I can go through the list with curiosity. “Where will I hit blocks, what activities feed my soul, and which ones zap them.? Is my energy drained by limiting beliefs and old stories?” Maybe these tasks are out of line with my skill set and interests, but still they stubbornly demand my attention.

In either case it’s still the same list, but depending on my perspective, a very different experience emerges. One leaves me energized and fulfilled, albeit sometimes with a delicious exhaustion born of having utilized my gifts and stretched myself in new areas. In contrast, the alternative path would likely leave me burned out and feeling broken.

While this is happening on a personal level, I see a similar theme in my practice this week. My clients who are smart, creative, and accomplished, making fundamental, foundational shifts are struggling with the same issue; funny how that works. They notice their tendency to second guess their actions, hearing the ceaseless drone of their “itty bitty committee,” those stressful self-sabotaging, internal voices bouncing about within their skulls like hard rubber Spalding balls. I hear it in their comments :“Maybe I should do….,” “Someone else is doing the …… route,” “it’s not going fast enough,” “I’m wondering if I should do that too.” In the 80’s they called it “shoulding on yourself.” We know where that leads.

One client in particular, after giving her committee the floor, comforts herself by throwing in “at least I have control in one area of my life.” Her voice and body portray a tension without joy or satisfaction. I interrupt, “May I make a small but significant suggestion here?” “Of course,” she responds her beautiful eyes shining. “What if, instead of thinking that you had “control,” in this area, you substitute, the concept of “choice.” “Control is not only an illusion, but leaves you alone, constantly on guard and strenuously pulling it together. In contrast, choice allows you to take ownership, without having to run the whole game yourself.” With that awareness her body softens and her wonderful smile returns. “You’re right. I love the idea of choices, there’s so much more freedom in that.”

Coincidentally, this week of Kaizen, we’re on “Think Small Thoughts,” one small but significant shift can be substituting “control” for ”choice.”

So as you move towards the next level of your Completion Initiative, you can choose to do just that. Thoughts like, “Hmm, that’s not a productive concept. What would be more productive?” “Just stop and breathe,” “I love the smell of my little boy’s hair,” “I can just show up and see what happens, I don’t have to know the outcome.” The list goes on.

I look forward to hearing from you this week about what happens when you ask yourself small questions.

Brain Candy

This section is dedicated to wonderful books, training and teaching that I see as life enhancing. Enjoy!

I have a wonderful book to recommend, “Women, Food and God,” the author, Geneen Roth, had a profound impact on my life. Geneen is an extraordinary writer, who knits together our cultural obsession with diets, weight and body image exposing it as a mask for the belief that one is broken and needs to be fixed. I highly recommend it .The universal concepts presented in the book are clearly laid out.  Her principles encourage one to come back to self in a rich and authentic way. What a gift.