I believe everything we do think and say is innately based on and can be diffused down to two states: fear or love.
Some experts suggest fear or desire.
I think even desire can be reduced down to (though expanded into is more apt) love.
Inherently motivated by one or the other, studies suggest that most adults automatically allow fear to dictate decisions rather than love.
We learn this early on. We can unlearn it.
For example someone told me recently, I can’t stand the way my clients bully me but if I try a new approach with them I might lose their business.
The fear of potential loss overrides the love of self expressed in taking action toward creating a better quality relationship with the clients or if losing those energy-vampire clients, an appreciation of the extra time gained for other clients we enjoy working with. That old “bat in hand vs birds in bush” cliche.
But maybe there’s a way to learn how to handle our relationship with difficult people (clients, friends, family members, etc.) and maintain integrity while gaining respect (and sanity) in a way that allows us and them to feel good.
Often there is. But trying a new approach feels scary, potentially risky. Any time we leave our comfort zone, it feels…uncomfortable.
Here’s a thought: belly flip-flops from fear feel a lot like positive anticipation butterflies. The biggest difference is in our mind.
Doing something new requires courage, but that’s the sexiest trait we can have after all. (As as aside, when we feel sexy we feel confident and when we feel confident we feel love, self-love, and we tend to make others feel good with the projection of the resulting, exhalting, loving action. And that feels awesome possum!)
I certainly dealt with my share of nasty birds and blood suckers in my professional career until I realized I was the silly sucker. Hello choice! I stopped dealing with them. Not only was I happier but I was also more effective with other clients. (Incidentally, my business improved financially, too, even though losing the twitch was my only goal at the time.)
Sure, “hurt people hurt people.” Cranky Charlies project their pain on anyone willing to take it. We can pity them but we don’t have to pack on their pain. Or work with them. (Unless we’re shrinks. And even then, it’s our choice.)
If we don’t have the communication skills to change the dynamic, we can learn those skills—or we can choose not to learn them—and continue to work with them. Or not.
Fear and love drive more than our careers. They’re the catalysts for decisions we make about our personal relationships, health, hobbies…everything.
Ever wonder why, when we’re getting ahead in a goal—say weight-loss—we suddenly sabotage ourselves with a side trip to the truffle aisle, as in chocolate, as in good for us in small doses, but as in not-so-good-for-us-by-the-crate?
Yep, that’s fear.
Fear of success and the resultant no excuses, fear of facing feeling good enough, fear of maintaining, fear of exposing ourselves, fear of being seen, fear of attention…the fear list goes on.
In moments of weakness, we allow our fears to trump our desires (to be fit/healthy/successful/empowered/babalicious).
Our fear is greater than our (self-)love.
Yeah, yeah, it comes from our childhood crap. So what? So what! We all have emotional baggage. We can choose to put a bandage on our baggage any time we like. At this stage in life, I no longer care about the where I got it, I care about the what can I do about it, damn it?
When we learn to operate from the empowering state of love, an amazing thing happens. Our attitude, energy, and efforts affect ourselves and others. The ripple in the pond effect. More often than not we find a positive outcome results. The clients/friends/family respect us, or they move on and provide us with the opportunity and energy for others. Both are ultimately positive results! Best of all, we respect ourselves and are able to make more self-loving choices.
How do we move into making decisions from a place of love and empowerment?
Awareness! And acceptance—that nothing changes if nothing changes! (This is straight from the AA playbook but applies to everything.)
Acknowledge areas in our lives that aren’t working for us. Here’s a little note to self: Any time our feelings lean toward negativity or irritation, that’s an invitation for growth. We can tackle things as they come up, or if you’re like me, in an obsessive, self-brainstorming session with a pad of paper, a pen and a whack of highlighters!
Ask ourselves how are we acting in fear in these areas? What are we afraid of? (Remember, there’s a difference between I might actually die and OMG, I might die of embarrassment.)
Ask ourselves how acting in love (with ourselves, which reflects on others) might look? What actions could we take that would support a new direction? What advice would we give someone we loved and believed in 100%? (Remember to do no harm. When we truly act with love, there is no room for ego-based attacks, sarcasm, nastiness, or cruelty. Intention is key!)
Take action! Thinking about doing things differently isn’t doing things differently. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten. What’s the definition of insane? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. #Crazy! Even baby steps move us to new places. Baby steps are okay! Toddlers tumble and when we laugh with them, they know it’s okay to try again. We must forgive ourselves our imperfections (perfection is highly overrated because it. is. impossible.) No pro athlete got there on the first try.
Failure only occurs in not trying.
Bonus self-points: Evaluate what works and what doesn’t and make new decisions.
Extra bonus self-points: Try again when we do stumble, because we will, without going back to the old behaviour we already know doesn’t work!
We don’t have to win over every client, resolve every disagreement, triumph in every step-away-from-the-cupcake situation. But we do win when we feel good about them all—which always happens when we choose the route of love.
A special note to those in dangerous / abusive relationships: there is a way out. I know there have been cases where the way out resulted in harm. This is a real risk. Please find someone you can trust to help you through this. There are people who understand, care, and can help with as little risk as possible. And know that you’re not alone and everyone reading this is sending you love.
On my phone, I have a repeating daily notification that reminds me What would someone who loves herself do? Sometimes it’s easier to imagine what someone else might do. Then, even when I feel like a scardy-chicken, I tell myself, I can do this!
You can, too.
Author: Anna Jorgensen
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: dede titus/Flickr
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