Oh darn! I’m the Frog! Why it’s Sometimes Hard to Do Nothing.

I have just emerged from the Cave of Gloomy Things, after taking up residence there after the death of my dad in late October 2013 converged with the holidays and an unexpected downturn in my business. As an entrepreneur, much of my mental energy is tuned to a sense of urgency, driving me to anticipate a clients needs; start another project; write another blog post. The momentum is always there. The voice in my head that said, “Find something to DO!” was louder than the rational yet unfamiliar whisper that said, “Do nothing, it’s time for healing. It will all be okay.”

So I caught the flu. Well, not the flu exactly, but some sort of bug that zapped my energy and directed me to the couch where I played Angry Birds and caught up on daytime TV. I white knuckled it through the holidays and the time of little sunshine, when after about a week of doing nothing, I realized I was feeling a whole lot better. And not just physically.

Even though I know that “doing nothing” is a proven way to restore my sunny mood and supercharge my creativity, I can see now that I had been blind to the increasing percentage of work versus restorative play. Was I that driven to be productive or else I didn’t feel good about myself? Darn it, I realized I was like the frog who was put into the pot of cold water. He didn’t jump out of the pot to save himself as the water heated up because he got accustomed to the incremental rise in temperature. By the time it boiled he was cooked.  Most of the time we are human, but every now and then we are frogs. Returning to self-care by doing nothing and getting out of the hot water is Love Applied.

But hey! Aren’t I “doing something” by writing this post? Time to stop. There is Nothing that is calling me.

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“You had me at “I’m disappointed.”

"It's not what you say, it's how you say it." Melinda Walsh

Recently a friend shared with me how she had promised to do something for a client and didn’t follow through, due to her son falling off his bike and breaking his arm, which led to an unexpected trip to the emergency room. Due to this distraction, she forgot to let her client know what was going on, and her unfulfilled promise led to some embarrassment for her client. Regrettable, but understandable under the circumstances, and a perfect reminder of our imperfections as humans.  When my friend called to apologize and make amends, her client responded by saying how disappointed she was and then proceeded with a blamestorm outlining just how wrong my friend was for not letting her know. My friend attempted to apologize again but everything she said was used as evidence against her. The conversation was clearly designed to make my friend feel as badly as her client felt upon being disappointed, but instead, had the opposite effect. At some point, my friend became angry, knowing that while she definitely missed a promise, she did not deserve to be treated in this manner.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. 

Why didn’t the client simply stop at “I’m disappointed”? The desire to blame comes from a mood of righteousness, which then leads a speaker to feel justified in punishing another person. “I just went off on them” is an indicator of righteousness.  The first issue is the broken promise, which can be repaired in a number of ways—owning the mistake, and taking an action that remedies it. But now there is a second issue:  the punishment brought about by the mood of righteousness. While moods such as these are transparent to the listener, the speaker is often blind to the damage of their words.  Blaming someone only serves the purpose of making someone wrong and someone right, and who among us thanks the person who attempts to shame us by going on and on about our shortcomings? Better to become more aware of our own need to make someone wrong, and stick to simply addressing the real issue. Now, this can take a few moments to observe what our true intention is, but doing so will serve us well in the long run. And that’s Love Applied.

Your daily practice.  Spend some time observing how often you blame, or need to make someone wrong. And then ask yourself, is this really necessary or could I handle this by simply letting someone know how what they did impacted me (I had to stay late because I didn’t get your report on time), and then request that in the future, let’s both make sure to do this a different way.

Wheeeew…..What a month!

Bride

So here’s what’s been going on. Got engaged in February. Wedding planned for April, 2014. Ninety-one year old father went under Hospice care at the end of August, 2013. Wedding moved up to end of October. (Awesome, happy, joyful wedding on October 26, 2013.) Dad passed October 29, 2013. Funeral November 1, 2013, and honeymoon […]

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Listen In… Kvetch Out

Love Applied can take many forms, and one useful one is knowing when to talk and when to listen.  It’s easy to lose sight of which is which when faced with an emotionally charged situation, such as a loved one who is facing serious illness or even death.  Susan Silk and Barry Goldman share the […]

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Staying Connected In Conflict

Love Applied

How Do I… Handle it When My Partner wants to Talk About Something and I’m Not Ready Yet? It’s a classic problem. One partner wants to talk about an issue that’s on their mind and the other doesn’t. At least at that particular moment. What usually ends up happening is an uncomfortable situation where the […]

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You Need What??

My Sweetheart and I have different needs. Shocker. We are probably the first couple ever to have that dynamic! When something is important to someone else but not important to you, it can be really easy to downplay it, dismiss it, judge them for being silly or dumb, or whatever. Consistently ignoring the needs of […]

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“B”-ing My Mom

When my grandmother was pregnant with my mom, she and my grandfather were so convinced that they were going to have a boy that they didn’t choose a girls name.  And when my mother popped out as a little baby girl in 1930 (surprise!), they named her for a boy anyway:  Willie “B”.  The ‘Willie’ […]

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To Feel or Not to Feel

Melinda Walsh

A longtime friend called me with a question. “I’m in a dilemma and I am not sure what to do. Would you give me some perspective?” he said. “Do you think Love is a choice?” He told me about a female friend that he’d known for several years, who was newly sober and freshly out […]

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Your Choice. Focus on Fixing What’s Wrong? Or Appreciate What’s Right?

A friend sent me the link to this video, which offers a clear example of the difference between how we see ourselves, and how others see us.   So if you’ve watched the video, would you say this applies to you? Are you in the habit of describing yourself to yourself in a way that’s […]

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Sometimes It’s Really Simple.

  Yesterday I ran into a friend who had just celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary.  She was bubbly and excited about how happy they now were.  “The first 15 years were really rough but now we get along great!”  I knew that they had difficulty during the first years of her marriage so I asked, […]

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