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November 18, 2021

Dreams like signposts

Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.

“Happy are those who dream dreams and
are ready to pay the price to make them true.”
Leon J Suenes


Years ago, I had a dream – to be confident, self-accepting and living life.  Since my last life attempt, a lot has happened, growing away from being the wallflower, not looking at me, and feeling so unworthy of anything good.  The last week, on reflection, has been evidence of how far I have come.   A rollercoaster, again, but one with more ups wins than down spirals 🙂

“You should have taken it back straight away!”  The waitress said last night when I replied to her question about our enjoyment of the meal.  See, we had ordered med-rare steak, yet the steak was closer to well done.  We were both disappointed, but neither had the courage to speak up and take it back.

A great reminder – I have a voice and have permission to use it If I choose to.

The second incident was  I was allocated to serve a row of tables, yet, I royally stuffed up the table numbers, which I am sure you can imagine confused the entire night’s processes.  The kitchen, the delivery and then the payment systems.  Yes, the situation was salvageable.  Yes, I did tell my supervisor as soon as I realised the error; yes, we attempted to fix the problem.  No, it didn’t go smoothly. No, the couple who was celebrating their 50th Anniversary was not overly impressed.  Yes, I was embarrassed etc.   My supervisor had made the correct assumption I could do the job correctly but also said, “I should have told me you were not familiar with the seating.”  She is correct, but I also didn’t see how I could get it wrong.

Working through this scenario, I used the techniques I teach.  Evaluate with the least amount of emotional investment and see what is happening.  Listen to the matching, linked podcast episodes.
Lesson – my brain and triggers!

  • Feeling: I was frazzled by working with her – I felt intimidated.  Did I need to be?  No, but I did.  I am triggered by her.
  • Observe/explore patterns – when allocated to work in new sections, I panic and develop table blind spots.  It sounds crazy, but an area on the floor consistently becomes a void in my mind.  Sabotage maybe?   Knowing this, I choose to recount the tables I serve every time I enter additional items. (Listen to the matching podcast episode that talks through this strategy)
  • Feelings felt embarrassed, and my perfectionist part gangs up with the judging part, and they go into overdrive.  
  • Intervention: I have learnt to calm them down with counter talks of – I didn’t kill anyone, and yes, it is an unfortunate error, but it is ok in the scheme of life.   Does this change anything in reality?  Yes and no.  Admitting my mistake triggered my supervisor; I realised the error to the customer helped diffuse their frustration, my stress levels escalated, and my shame increased.  It took a while to recalibrate without crying!!
  • Owning the situation and modifying – Observing the situation with detachment, the error is common in the industry.  I even witnessed others make the same error, even my manager. Phew, this makes me human and equal to others.   Usually, I would continue to think of myself as less than and unworthy.
    • Diffusing the pressure enables me to relax, take my time and perform with confidence again.
    • I permitted myself to take back ownership of my superpowers – communication with patrons and helping them feel special.
    • Taking the time, in a relaxed manner, to double-check information, procedures, table, orders etc., enabled the processes to improve.
    • Seeing my ‘flaws’ provided the opportunity to see childhood programming and comfort the younger me.  Encourage her to see so many other great things we do now while acknowledging her fears and soft spots.  I sat with her and reinforced the idea – the errors are not me in their entirety, and our triggered fears are not real anymore unless we choose to make them so.

A few thoughts went through my mind over these situations, which I think is of value to share with you this week. We have choices, even though often it feels we don’t.  When triggered, our natural response is to regress into a previous coping state and triggered stage in life.  The bigger the trigger, the younger we seem to go.

1.  Misunderstandings occur from definitional differences, in this case, our interpretation of med-rare vs the chefs.
2. Being a people pleaser and not being ‘seen’ as argumentive, dissatisfied or even ungrateful is a potentially dangerous trait.
3. Trusting others to do a task, deferring, delegating etc., potentially leads to disappointment but can create a fantastic outcome.

More I reflected on the week past; I could see communication patterns were assumptions, assumptions made by others, and me about others.

Interestingly, in both scenarios, I took on the outcome’s responsibility (in my head).  Is this appropriate, or is it a part of my conditioned patterning and over responsibility trait learnt early in life.   I think it is a hangover effect.

Magic can happen if we are open:

  • Noticing the red flags and changes in our thoughts, feelings and body reactions.  Increasing Self-Awareness
  • Stop, reflect and re-direct with the self-awareness, consider the ‘truth’ of the dialogue the Ego-brain is giving.  Is it true, as in always? Is it a pattern, or are you experiencing something different that makes sense to be triggered?
  • Practice mindfulness and change stance This takes conscious effort but is certainly a worthwhile practice.  (there is a podcast episode on mindfulness)
    • See the scenario without judgement. Yes, it is happening.  Yes, you are feeling these feelings. No, they are not you; they are chemical changes in the body in response to the situation and triggers.  No, they do not define your true self –  a human making a human error without malice, or revenge, simply an error.  
    • The feelings and interpretation others create is not your responsibility; how they interpret, give meaning to and feel in response/reaction is their choice. Sit with this for a bit, or as long as you need to.  
    • Our responsibility is our behaviour, communication style, character and duty of care; their side starts at the meeting point.   If we have performed to the best of our ability at the time, with the resources we had access to, considering our beliefs and patterns, then great. Yes, I was doing my best in the state of anxiety and void spots in my brain.   As soon as I realised, I attempted to amend the situation.
    • With new self-awareness, insight of patterns, triggers and gaps, inability/strategy/skill etc., it is our responsibility to address, heal and shift them.
    • The act of Self-care includes learning, adjusting and developing ways of being that reduce stress, increase the flow of love and inter-relating from a relaxed, loving space.  Achieving this includes healing past hurts, learning/practising life skills that facilitate peace, ease and confidence with competence.  It also means seeing ourselves in the best possible light at all times through the lens of self-compassion.  Learning takes time and practice!  Give yourself permission to commit to the process and grow.
  • Celebrate the small and big growth points with gratitude.  It takes courage to admit our ‘faults’, as the mind likes to call gaps.  Interestingly, our culture isn’t big on seeing growth and change, let alone celebrating the small, everyday wins.  We focus on and celebrate ‘hard earned’ degrees, long hours, life-compromising experiences etc., yet, ignore the simple yet challenging moments.  For instance, getting table numbering right when one struggles, increasing confidence to converse with strangers, or getting out of bed earlier because the black dog is sitting outside the house that morning and not on the bed.    See all that is, with gratitude, for it is ourselves that are doing the work. NO ONE is doing the inner work and learning for us.


Key Lesson: “Whenever we can remember the truth that
painful thoughts and feelings require our consent to punish us,
and that these self-harming states are, in themselves,
literally nothing without the powers we grant them,
in that moment we overcome a world that has always conquered us.”
Guy Finley
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