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2 entries from January 2018

Square or Circle: Finding Peace in a world that can feel out of control

Have you ever been frustrated with someone doing something that you didn't want them to do?

Have you ever searched every crevice of your brain to try and figure out a way to say something to someone so that they wouldn't act in a certain way toward you?

Maybe you wanted to understand how to talk to them so they wouldn't get mad. Circle square illustrated
Maybe you wanted your teenage son to understand the importance of taking his dirty dishes out of his room.

Maybe you wanted your parents to understand how they hurt you.

Whatever it is, if it didn't work, I'm guessing, you were frustrated. I want to share with you something that may help alleviate that frustration. 

Find a piece of paper.

Draw a stick figure. This stick figure is you.
Now, draw a circle around the stick figure and a square around the circle.

Your drawing should look something like the picture embedded in this post.

Now, consider this: Everything on the square happens to you, but you have little to no control over it. When your partner does something you don't like, that's on your square. If you try to have a conversation with them about your sex life and they start to yell and get mad? That's on your square and their circle.  You're not responsible for how they act or react; they are.

That's the good news.

How you act is on your circle. You are 100% responsible for how you act.

Most of the time, when you try to control something on someone else's circle (your square), you are manipulating.

This is often a great source of emotional frustration and angst for people. I will often ask clients, "Circle or Square?" when they are talking about a frustration.  The question is designed to get them to explore what they control or are trying to control.

Too often, people will be at one end of two extremes.

The first end is, "I must be doing it wrong, because my husband always gets mad no matter what I do or how I say it." The opposite end is "What my husband is doing is wrong therefore I have an excuse for my poor behavior."

Both extremes are wrong.

Simply because your spouse feels angry with you or reacts poorly to something you've done does not mean that you've done anything wrong. Yes, you can and should examine how you approached the issue. You can even ask them how you might have said whatever it was you wanted to communicate in a way that they would not have been upset/angry, etc over. 

But there reaction is 100% on their circle (they control it) and 100% on your square (you are not in control of it).

Conversely, if your spouse is engaging in poor behavior, that's on their circle (they're control) and your square (not your control.

Your reaction is still on your circle and their poor behavior does not ever excuse your own poor behavior.

I am always amazed at people who would never accept, "Well, they did it first" from their children and use the same excuse for why they treat their spouse poorly.

A natural question is what about feelings?

Feelings live in the place between our circle and square. We don't often control their creation. They happen faster than we can process.

But we absolutely control what we do with those emotions and feelings. We control what do after those feelings are created.   Simply because we're mad, doesn't mean we have to yell or be mean. We control our actions and what we do.

So the next time you are frustrated or angry, ask yourself if you're trying to control something that's on your square or circle.

If it's out on the square, you're probably going to be stuck for as long as you try to control it.

So much of our energy is spent trying to control things we do not and cannot control that we fail to utilize the energy we do have to control our own lives.

If we want to find true satisfaction, we will have to start with controlling the things we control and accepting the fact that we don't control everything. Energy spent trying to control things we can't control is energy wasted.  Energy wasted will not move us toward peace.

Find some time today, make your lists. Examine what's going on in your life. What do you control? What don't you control?

 

 

 

 

 


Goals: Why most don't work and how yours can

Ah, the new year.
 
That blessed time of year where many people set goals for the next year. The gym where I work out, will be filled with people who have set 2018 as they year where they finally get fit.
For two weeks or so, at least.
Every year, many people set goals and they typically fall to the wayside by the end of the month.
Why?
 
Well, for one thing, most people don't consider the cost of their goals when they make them. They make a goal that they are going to lose weight but fail to consider that they will need to give up their favorite high calorie, zero nutrition snack. 
They set a savings goal without thinking about how they will need to pass the sales rack at their favorite store without actually buying anything simply because it’s on sale. 
 
Secondly, we often set goals that are too vague. I was talking to an aspiring musician one day and I asked him one of my favorite questions, “You have 525,600 minutes to spend over the next 365 days. How will you spend them? What will be different about your life when those minutes are spent.”
He told me that he wanted his music to be “more polished.”  image from c1.staticflickr.com
That’s a start of a goal but it’s not actually a goal. 
What does that mean? 
 
I asked him how much time he was going to spend on polishing his music.
 
He had zero idea. I told him that I doubted he would actually change much about his music. 
If goals are actually going to create change, they have to be specific and measurable. 
 
 We often fail to understand the why of our goal. 
 
What are the specific actions we need to take in order to achieve them? If I want to write a book, how many hours a week am I going to dedicate to it? 
If I am going to set a savings goal, how much am I going to transfer into savings? 
If I am going to set a weight/healthy goal, how many calories should I consume? How much time should I spend exercising? 
Where can I learn what I need to learn in order to accomplish these actions? 
Why do you want to do what it is your doing? This is why I ask about how you will spend your minutes. The older I get, the more I am convinced that time is our most precious commodity. 
 
Often, we spend it as if we are not in control of how we spend it. As if it just magically disappears from our life. 
If you want next year to be different from last year, you must spend this present year differently.
Take some time and write down what you want to happen over the next year.
Now, write out what the emotional pay off is to those goals. I've written about this idea, here. For example, I had a friend that wanted to lose and keep off nearly 100lbs. I asked him about the payoff to his goals. He said, he wanted to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle and go hiking with his son. "Write it down!" I told him.
 
Change happens when we take the time to answer there key questions. What do you want? What are you willing to pay? What are you willing to risk?
 
Take time to explore your goals. What do you want (be specific). What are the necessary behaviors you'll need to achieve your goal? What  is the emotional payoffs to your goal? If you want to lose weight, why? If you want to save money, what do you want to feel when you save that money? If you want to sponsor a child in another country, what is the emotional reason? image from encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com
 
Lastly, we often fail to get back up when we fail. People who attempt change, who want to fight against the status quo of their lives will fail more than people who do not worry about changing. Failure is part of the process. If we are going to successfully change something, we will have to overcome that failure by getting back up and going at it again. Many times, we will need to reattempt change multiple times.  *Note. The squirrel has nothing to do with the post. I just thought it was cute.