Extreme Truth Telling Today: Schools are attempting to restart, even amidst the pandemic, and parents are trying to decide whether or not their children should return to the possibly-opening schools. Bryant and I decided to do something a little different – we are going to do both! We will send the children to school for maybe an hour a day, and spend the rest of the day home together, as a family, using homeschool to make up for the rest of the curriculum. When a neighbor asked me this morning why we’d made this decision, I started off my reply with something about Covid and limiting my children’s exposure. And that was not an un-truth at all. But it wasn’t the full truth either. Really, I have been concerned about at least one of my children in the public school system for some time, and I thought this was a great time to experiment with different forms of education. So I said as much. And, again, it probably wouldn’t have mattered to her that I told the whole truth, but in trying to do so, it really gave me a chance to really think for a second, Why AM I choosing this path? I think, in trying to be truthful with others, I have an opportunity to look at my own mind and my own intentions and discover the truth for myself as well, and make sure that I like that truth.

Okay, let’s talk about why I set goals and don’t reach those goals. Why I’m not taking action. And guess what, I am taking action, actually. I have never worked toward an “impossible goal” the way I am now, since I was probably an undergraduate. I am taking action in that area.

Also, I am taking action toward improved relationships. I am keeping a daily SFD journal. Let me explain this one to you.

Remember from Brene Brown a SFD is a “Stupid First Draft”. It is the first story we make up in our minds when we are hurt or shocked or disappointed.

“We are hard-wired to make sense of hurt, as fast as we can. And if we can come up with a story that makes sense of it, our brain chemically rewards us for that story. Whether it is accurate or not.”

So, in my journal, every day, when I am hurt or confused or agitated or even just annoyed, when I can see that my brain has created a story for me to make sense of the situation, I sit down and I write down that story – that SFD – using the Model as a template.

Here is an example from yesterday. You will recognize this:

  • CIRCUMSTANCE – I have to decide what to do about school next semester.
  • THOUGHT – I could really mess this up! For me, for my kids, for my neighbors. I have that power.
  • FEELING – Overwhelm
  • ACTION – Indecision and little sleep. I am stuck.
  • RESULT – Mono, stress for me, stress for the kids, indecision, even once the decision has been made – always second-guessing.

And then, in my SFD Journal, after I have written out that Stupid First Draft – I have all my thoughts out there on paper – I use the model to re-think what is going on in my mind, and consider different thoughts:

  • CIRCUMSTANCE – I have to decide what to do about school next semester.
  • THOUGHT – This semester will be such a short blip in their education. Unless I make it stressful, it won’t likely be stressful. But, unless I make it exciting, it won’t likely be a positive experience either.
  • FEELING – Excitement
  • ACTION – I can do anything that I feel good about. And so I consider what I feel good about, and I go forward. I’m not stuck.
  • RESULT – No matter how the semester goes down in the books, it will go down in our minds as a fun new experience.

“Most of us have never been taught to witness our own thinking – to compassionately observe our own thinking, and it’s a practice that takes practice… The process of watching your mind think requires you to separate yourself from your own mind.”

And that’s the work I am doing in my SFD Journal. I am witnessing my own thinking. I am watching and tending to my mind. I am being intentional in the thoughts that I put back into my mind, after considering what thoughts are being created there. You will hear more about this journal in the future. It’s been a really good thing for me.

So, again, I am setting my goals, I am taking action toward reaching my “impossible goals”, I am doing the thoughtwork daily to create in me the feelings, actions, and results that I want. So, I AM taking action.

But not in all areas of my life. And that’s okay. I don’t feel discouraged. But today is an opportunity to look at maybe an area I wish I could change, but have not been able to take action in yet. Let’s look at something small. Let’s look at getting to bed on time.

What time do I want to get to bed? And for what reason? Finally, do I like that reason – is it serving me and future-me well? For me, I want to get to bed by 10:30pm. And I want to do this because I always wake up at 6:30, no matter what, and I need the 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night while I am dealing with mono. Do I like my reason? Yes. It’s a healthy habit to be in, mono aside. And I am a more patient mom and wife when I am healthy and well rested. I like those reasons very much.

Then why am I getting to bed at 11 or 11:30 at nights?

“Our thoughts create our feelings. Our feelings drive all of our actions – they are the fuel for our actions. So when you ask me the question, why am I not taking action? It’s because of the way you feel.”

Why am I not going to bed at 10:30? Because Bryant and I like to watch shows together at night. I feel some relief from my day when I can zone out and watch a show at night with Bry. And, unless either I start feeling negative feelings about watching shows, or my feelings toward going to bed strengthen, it is going to be dang hard to get me in bed before the end of the show.

“If you try and change or action without changing the thought or the feeling that’s driving the action, you’re going to have a struggle, because you’re going to have to work against that feeling and that thought that’s creating that feeling. So that’s why for so many of us change is so frustrating because we try to change how much we are eating or we try to change exercising, or we try to stop procrastinating without changing the thought and feeling that is driving that very thing that we are doing… When you change the thought and feeling, then changing the action becomes so much easier.”

Do you want to do this work with me right now?

If the current ACTION is going to bed at 11:30, the FEELING that led to that action is probably relief, and the THOUGHT that led to that feeling is that I love this time in front of the screen because it brings me relief before I go to bed.

That is the Model backwards, right? Let’s try it again.

If the ACTION I want is going to bed at 10:30, the FEELING that leads to that action could be something like curiosity, and the THOUGHT that leads to that feeling is I wonder how my day would improve if I got to bed a little earlier. I wonder how my health would improve.

And I might even end up making an experiment with this, right? Take a note in my journal, what time I go to bed, and I always wake up at 6:30, but I could record what time I go to bed and how I felt the next day. How I related to the children, how I felt toward difficult situations, how my skin reacted. And I haven’t done this yet, but you see what the possibilities are when I change my THOUGHT.

And that is entirely in my control. Which means that the FEELINGS the ACTIONS and the RESULTS are entire in my control.

Okay, that is a lot today. A lot of review. But some new ideas on how to implement these principles and create the life of my dreams. Really. This can happen, my friends. See you tomorrow!

Next DAY #279 HOW TO STOP...

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