Life is simply endless troubleshooting.

Life happens for us on a constant basis. We're lucky in this way until we die because it gives us endless opportunities to build our resilience from stretching and growing.

Except most people don't see life in this way at all! They see it as constantly happening TO them and not FOR them. I remember when I viewed my life the same way most of the time, but I can also tell you that it's transformed in big ways since shifting my frame of mind.

And the new frame or mindset I use is this: life is simply endless troubleshooting. No matter the circumstances, life is just choice after choice of "how am I going to fix this or change this or solve this." But most people have this whole other frame of mind that keeps them suffering endlessly. I see it really clearly with my mom pretty much every time I speak to her but I also see it all over the place on social media and listening to people.

People have this constant background narrative of "it shouldn't be like this" or "this shouldn't be happening" and life becomes this constant struggle and inconvenience instead of a series of incidents or opportunities to be solved. Once you notice it, it's hard to turn off. People come from this place of "UGH! IF ONLY this wasn't happening, my life would be going just fine," but the truth is, they'd probably still find something to complain about or be bothered by. Why? Because nothing stays the same ever and the reason for that is because the Universe is constantly growing and expanding outward. Trying to make things stay as they are, either us or another person or a job or something else, is literally fighting the way things are. It's fighting reality.

It's like trying to keep a wave upon the sand [name that tune!]. 

Have you ever tried to keep a wave on the sand? That sounds crazy, right? Think about some other analogy in nature and it's easy to realize how silly it sounds but then we try to make people, places or things or aspects of our lives stay the same when it's just not how things are.

So when cars break down in traffic or mail is delayed or appointments get changed or people die or we get fired or politicians impose bans or men and women harass each other (because they do) or any of the big and small ways that life just shifts and changes, instead of seeing these things as major inconveniences or things that shouldn't be happening, we can just see it as endless troubleshooting. 

Life is just endless things to be solved from moment to moment. It's not personal. You didn't deserve it. It's not happening TO you and it's certainly not wrong or bad. It's just the way things are.

Try using this frame or mindset for one day, ok start with the next five minutes, and see what you see!

Make ugly food.

Happy New Year!

Are you on the resolution bandwagon today or nah?

Well, whether you are or aren't, here's some advice from me to you: make ugly food.

We tend to worry far too much about the end result of something. This means we often never try which is related to my post last week about overthinking. I'm on an overthinking binge lately so I can relate to how you might be feeling if you're there, too. There have been times in my life where I threw total caution to the wind and it felt AWESOME. And then there are times, like lately, where I feel a bit less confident and more hesitant.

I don't worry too much when this happens. It's just the ebb and flow of life. It helps me help you.

How do I get over it? I make ugly food. I recommend you try this.

Cooking is a basic skill we all need to thrive in our lives. From coaching and my own experiences before becoming a coach, I learned that many people have a fear of cooking because they either lack the skills or they worry it won't come out looking very good. Social media feeds this fear with all the perfectly curated profiles of perfect food in perfect pictures. It's enough to send our self-esteem right out the window and make us pick up the phone and call for take-out. And that, right there, is a damn shame. All that perfection is just overcompensation, anyway. Who aspires to that, really?

What if we just decided to make ugly food instead? What if we worried less about how it looked and more about how it tasted and mostly how it FELT TO FEED OURSELVES our own homemade cooking?

Making ugly food is a great way to overcome your fear of messing up. It's also a great way to practice the art of not caring what others think and feeding yourself food that you enjoy because you deserve it, even if you mess it up and it comes out ugly.

I came home and made some black-eyed peas and chard last night to get myself some good luck going into the New Year. It was simmering down just fine and then I forgot to turn off the burner while I working on my new website. By the time I realized it, I had pretty much ruined this dish that was supposed to usher in my 2018. Guess what? I already set this as a topic to write about a few weeks ago AND THEN that happened last night and I realized it was perfect. Totally meant to be. So, it happened to me and now I'm sharing it with you. That was some pretty amazing manifesting, huh?

Make ugly food. Do it as a mental exercise moving forward, starting today. Bring in your new year practicing the art of not giving as many f*%^s.

 

*PS, totally forgot to take a picture of the mess from last night. But you can imagine it was pretty ugly and tasted just fine. ;)

How to stop overthinking.

I met a new friend over Christmas. He said, "your ability for self-reflection and processing information and seeing it from so many angles is astounding! I don't know how you don't drive yourself crazy, though."

I smiled at him and said, "I do drive myself crazy."

 
Doing Cycle Dillan DiGiovanni overthinking
 



And that's my advice for you, if you're an over-analyzer like me. Notice that you're doing this to yourself. And try to catch it. And try to do it less and take action more often. That's how you stop overthinking everything in your life.

Notice it.
Think less.
Act more.

Sounds so simple, right? Basic, even?

But why is it so hard?

Well, let me use my analytical brain to explore this. LOL!

Just kidding. We overthink from a place of fear. We try to figure out all the scenarios of our lives like a chess game and end up causing ourselves tremendous stress and anxiety. We avoid taking any from fear of what might happen. It makes sense! We want to stay alive, by golly. But often that inaction may actually deprive us of the very lives we want and need to live.

[Share that and quote me on it, will ya?]

I often overthink too much and then try to overcome that by acting more impulsively, which sometimes gets me into situations where I need to overthink solutions again.

Guess what? This is called LIFE, my friends. I wish I could tell you there was a simple formula that would make it so easy to follow along and then arrive at a system that worked perfectly every time. I haven't found it and I've tried a lot of different things. If you've been following along, you know this about me. 

But what you don't know if how often I question myself. How often I get into situations that feel scary and hard and how little I trust myself. But that's where I lose my power and it's where you lose yours, too. 

We overthink to try to overcome the fear and feel more safe and secure. We overthink to try to make sure the bottom won't drop out of our lives. We overthink and often stop there. We never move forward.

It's good to think things through. Like I said, I sometimes don't think things through enough and end up with another problem to solve. But what I get from all that trial and error is more iron inside me, like Emily Dickinson said. Emily was amazing, I'm watching a new movie about her life called A Quiet Passion and I was overthinking something so was hardly paying attention so I need to go back and watch it again. Too much wisdom there to risk missing out!

Life is just one choice after another. Some will go well. Some will NOT. But trying is better than overthinking.

Notice something you're overthinking in your life. 
Try to get to the source of why you're thinking so much.
Imagine what it would be like to take action in some direction.

Think less and act more.
 

Confidence comes and goes.

I met someone recently who told me my biggest "problem" was my lack of confidence. She compared me to her boss who also confided a lack of clarity or confidence in his decisions or direction from time to time. Her boss is the leader of a major company. She's on staff.

I looked at her and asked, "so you think someone should fake constant confidence to keep up appearances rather than be vulnerably honest about their thought processes?"

She said yes. I disagreed. To be honest, I think it's comparing apples and oranges once you're actually in the driver's seat of your life instead of backseat driving. ;)

I get the merit of portraying confidence to garner trust. But confidence isn't a constant. It comes and goes, just like anything in life. To pretend it's there 100% of the time would be inauthentic and dishonest. No one has it all together. No one knows what they're doing from day to day. NO ONE. In fact, the more one tries to put that image out there, the less I trust them because I know they are probably hiding something. If they can't trust themselves through confusion and changes and share that with other people, can I trust them with my process? Not likely.

Do you feel the same way? As social media breaks down preconceived notions about people and personal brands are breaking apart left and right, are you more able to trust someone who shares from the heart or someone who never lets on that anything is happening behind the curtain? Do you still believe that confidence is a constant that other people have that you can't achieve or don't possess? Don't believe it. Believe that confidence isn't constant and it comes and goes. 

What made us fall in love with the Wizard of OZ? Was it when he was blustering about being all omniscient and powerful? No. It was the moment Toto blew his cover and we saw the real man behind the curtain. We could relate to his fear. His loneliness. His confusion. In fact, that's what we loved about all the characters in that movie and others like it. That's what we love and trust and respect and admire about anyone. 

However, if you've never really risked something and put yourself on the line or you're someone who fears what others think of you, then authenticity and vulnerability is a threat. And you would perceive anyone who shares that openly as the opposite of what is considered powerful, courageous and strong. 

Leading experts like Brene Brown and Daniel Goleman, two folks I follow, say that vulnerable honesty is the true mark of strength and resilience. It's the true mark of leadership. It may take a while to overcome these old paradigms of gender role performance that keep women and men and everyone in between prisoner but better days are coming.

For now, just know that if your confidence in yourself falters from time to time, you're doing ok. You're right on track for this thing called life that changes from minute to minute. Things come in and out of our lives despite our preferences. We make decisions and sometimes best-laid plans just don't work out as we hoped. 

All we can do is pivot and try again. And to do that requires a certain amount of confidence, so summon it however you can. But don't try to hold it all together all the time and PLEASE DON'T THINK you have to convince other people that you're perfect.

Confidence comes and goes so grab it when you find it, cherish the moment and take action.

And definitely don't listen to people who have opinions about "your problems" as they see them. They are most likely projections of their own problems that they have yet to discover for themselves.

The Ebenezer in everyone.

Everyone has an inner Ebenezer Scrooge. You know the guy in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?

And it's such an excellent story of personal transformation.

If folks know the story, they often focus on his identity early in the story. If someone's being miserly (what a great word!) we call him a Scrooge! 

It's true that ol' Eb was the perfect example of Scarcity mindset. It's that state of saving, scrimping, hoarding, and withholding. In the story, Ebenezer did this with money as a metaphor for his whole life. He couldn't even hook up Bob Cratchit with an extra lump of coal to warm his office, which expressed his lack of empathy. "My office is warm enough!" said Scrooge, totally oblivious to Bob's request for compassion about his own condition. Ebenezer had a lot of money and over the years became completely focused on that and only that to the point that his humanity took a major nosedive.

YEAHHHHHHH. A poignant story for times such as these, eh?

But Ebenezer had a huge breakthrough! He completely transformed! He literally hurled out generosity and compassion and material wealth into the streets of his local community. How often do we celebrate a story like that?!

Not too often. And I think I know why. Because everyone has an inner Ebenezer. It's called our ego. It's the thing inside us that focuses only on what we don't have instead of what we do have. We can have so much abundance and wealth in so many different forms and yet, what do we do with our time?

Complain about what hurts.

Worry about the future.

Gripe about what others are doing with their lives.

Compare ourselves and what we have or who we are to other people.

Distract ourselves with an endless list of things and post things like, "I can't even," and "omg it's Monday again?!" and "is it wine o'clock yet?" and, well, you can fill in the rest. 

There's a lot of scarcity all around and it's more apparent to someone like me or you, if you have experienced significant loss and tremendous change in your life. The great teachers say that the deeper our spiritual transformation, often brought on by trauma or tragedy, the more clearly we see the world as we never did before. And what we see reveals the truth about what matters and what doesn't. That new lens is the silver lining to the clouds of difficult times.

But until you get there (and often even when you do), people are kind of caught in the matrix of striving and competing and struggling toward something and the result is never feeling like anything or anyone is good enough. You don't appreciate what you have and keep focusing on what's wrong because it feeds that feeling of not having enough. We think if we can fix it (whatever IT IS) then, FINALLY THEN, we can sit and relax. It's a hamster wheel and the Buddhists call it samsara. I wanted to call it the Ebenezer Effect but others got to that phrase first and mean something different by it. 

But we'll get there.

image from Disney's A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey

image from Disney's A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey

The Ebenezer in everyone is all over social media and it's in our daily lives with the people we know and work with and hang out with. Whenever you notice someone who really does have plenty complaining or worrying or focusing on what isn't there or what isn't going right or not happening, that's the inner Ebenezer.

And then what happened to him? What's possible for all of us?

He saw it. He got it. He had the epiphany. With the help of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, Ebenezer realized that all the loss he'd experienced and the pain and fear he felt had hardened him into a miserly person who struggled to give and receive love, kindness, and generosity. If he stayed on that path, he was destined to die alone with nothing but his money.

Did you hear that some people are so poor, all they have is wealth? That's another blog post for another time. But that was Ebenezer's fate and he realized it and saw that all the things or money wasn't worth what he was missing out on every day in his life. The ability to help Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim or hang with his loving nephew and give money to the poor. 

He woke up and felt so grateful to still be alive, he changed his whole mindset. He celebrated his wealth and wanted to share it to expand the reach of it. He had the major catharsis that as long as he was alive, he had ONE MORE CHANCE to be the person he wanted to be as best he could.

image from Muppets Christmas Carol

image from Muppets Christmas Carol

And the best part of this story?

As long as you're reading this right now, you have the same opportunity. That potential Ebenezer is in everyone.