Abra cadabra – ‘should’ be gone!

A little bit more on the should vs. could topic from a couple of weeks ago.

I mentioned that “should” doesn’t need to be in our self talk anywhere near the frequency it probably is… because “should” just leads us to beat ourselves up.

Look, if you think you should do something because you want the results, why not just admit it? Why not just say “I want to…?” It’s funny, but as soon as you say “I want this so I should do that” you just set yourself up not to want to do what you really want to do. Oh, that sounds confusing.

Here, try this quick exercise. Let’s pretend you want to have a clean, organized office. That’s what you want. Just go with me, okay?

So you say to yourself, “I should get in there and clean up and organize” – just that – how do you feel? Motivated enough to do it? Happy to do it? Eager to do it? Yeah, probably not. See, you don’t want to do it.

But if you say, “I want to get in and clean up so my office is clean and organized” – how does that feel? It’s different, right? You’re still sticking with what you want, and there’s a greater likelihood that you’ll actually do it.

The point is, we’ve gotten into a lot of habits, and one of them is telling ourselves what we should or shouldn’t do. But that just triggers our inner rebel who wants to scream “You’re not the boss of me!”

Oh wait, I am. So if you’re the boss, you have full discretion. You can say whatever you want, however you want to yourself.

So why not use words you like, words that really are motivating to you? Wouldn’t you really be more honest to yourself?

I want to….

I like to…

I’d love to…

I can’t wait to…

I can, I could, I will, and on and on.

Seriously, words matter. So choose the words you want! It seems too simple to be impactful – but it works. Almost like — magic!

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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What would you love to do, achieve, be? If you’d like a coach to help you, send me an email and we can set something up to talk maggie@maggiehuffman.com

How’s your mental housekeeping?

Do you know the TV show Hoarders? I’ve watched a few episodes with curiosity and fascination. How do these people live like that? How do they live a life that is completely restricted and defined by these piles and stacks and rooms full of things that don’t serve them? Don’t they know how unhealthy it is?

They weren’t just dropped into that situation over night. It happened gradually, bit by bit, as they accumulated stuff. More and more stuff, that formed mountains and their lives become defined by these narrow little paths that they can navigate. AND THEY GOT USED TO IT! They tolerated and adapted.

Humans are phenomenal at adapting, which can be great – sometimes. But do we want to adapt to things that confine and restrict us? Do we want to adapt to things that aren’t healthy? (I am showing such restraint by not going off topic and following that path, just saying!)

Let’s go back to the tolerating bit. Tolerating is really the same as putting up with something that you don’t like, don’t want, don’t need, doesn’t serve you, etc. When I tolerate something, I already have decided that I’m not going to try to make a change.

Tolerate = resignation -> give up = quit

A long, long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I had piles of negative thoughts and beliefs about myself. I had mounds of thoughts that just sat there in the corner of my mind. I never examined them. I tried to cover them up with other things so that I wouldn’t really see them. Not going there, I would tell myself.

Ignoring them, walking around them, tolerating their very existence did not help me, and in fact did lead to some significant harm. And it certainly made my path in life pretty damned narrow – the walls were truly closing in. And yeah, my life was messy.

The way out for me was to stop tolerating the bullshit that I believed about myself, which meant that I had to stop being resigned, to un-quit, and to get to work. It was pretty much all thought work, too. I had to honestly look at those thoughts and beliefs that I had been tolerating, the things I just stepped around every time I got close. I had to examine where they came from, so I could understand if they were even mine.

It was kind of like having Marie Kondo come to my brain and do a hoarder intervention – or a 5S for any Lean fans. Take out each thought. Is it mine? Does it fit? Does it need a little adjustment or repair? Does it bring me joy? Do I need it?  Does it block the path or clear it? Does it help me be/see/become a higher version of myself?

If yes, bring it back with acceptance and love (so NOT toleration!)

If no, into the giant firepit it goes. Burn it, don’t bury it. (And this is probably the one time I wouldn’t even consider recycling!)

Cleaning up the crap in my brain just naturally led to cleaning up the mess in my life. Funny how that works!

Once the crap is gone, it does take a bit of regular maintenance to make sure more doesn’t sneak back in. Mental tidying. Cranial housekeeping. Belief hygiene.

I do come across little piles of dirty thought laundry that I periodically need to handle. I’m sure I always will. I usually find them now because of some situation I am tolerating. Like an ache or pain that I put up with because I’m afraid of what it could mean (about me), so I unconsciously start limiting my activities and narrowing my path.

So here’s a challenge for you: find one thing that you are tolerating. Take it out and look at how it is impacting you. Is it narrowing your path? If so, stop tolerating and CHOOSE what to do. If you’re willing, please share in the comments so that others can have more examples and we can learn from each other. Thank you!

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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Want some help doing some mental housekeeping? Send me an email and we can set something up maggie@maggiehuffman.com!

“Should” sucks!

Should sucks. It’s a unicorn killer, right?

Of all the things that we should do, removing “should’ from our brain is probably top of the list.

Not much good comes from the word “should”. Really, truly.

When you beat yourself, aren’t you usually using a big ol’ stick or fist made of should?

I know that when I’m feeling bad about myself, and I go in and listen to what I’m saying to myself, almost every sentence starts with “you should…”

Interestingly enough, it really is “you should”, not “I should” – as if the voice were coming from outside of me. But it isn’t. I think it’s just a trick my brain plays to make it all seem more legitimate, as if there were some outside authority giving me helpful advice.

Should just sucks. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t generate good.

We think it motivates us to change, but it doesn’t. Not really. It’s just a form of nagging, and how productive is that? Nagging on steroids complete with ‘roid rage. The beatings shall continue until morale improves.

Should just sucks. It’s the bedrock of self-loathing.

When I listen to the voice that’s beating me up, it’s usually saying “you should do __something__ so that you won’t be so __something bad__. Should almost always implies that we are broken, that there is something about us that we need to fix, that we should fix if we’re going to be… whatever we think it is that we need to be because we’re not okay as we are. But we are okay as we are. And from here, this place of being okay as we are, we can do more, be more, love more, give more, grow more, evolve – whatever we choose to do. Because it’s progress, not perfection.

Louise Hay says we can replace “should” with “could” and that will change everything, because we’ve just given ourselves options and then we have a choice. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t…depends upon what we want. But there are no beatings necessary.

This is not new news. It’s just a reminder.

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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What “could” you do, want, achieve, be? If you’d like to talk about it, send me an email and we can set something up maggie@maggiehuffman.com

Why progress not perfection?

Why is my tag line progress not perfection? So many reasons.

  • By now, if you’ve read any of my stuff, you know that I believe that there is no one size fits all.  I also think that there is no one size fits you – or me. Which means we get to try on lots of things and see if we like them. And we don’t have to decide to keep them until we’ve perfected them, or until we’re perfect.
  • Progress implies journey, perfection implies completion. There is so much joy, growth, enrichment and evolution in the journey. Why would you want to be finished? Bullocks to the idea that you have to finish one thing before you start another, by the way.
  • We learn as much from failing as we do from perfecting – not just the actual lessons, but also about how to accept ourselves as we are; to learn to live with the enormous contradiction that we are perfect in spite of our imperfections.
  • Life is like an onion. There’s lots of layers, and the freshest ones can involve tears. We gotta keep peeling.
  • Perfectionism. I could just stop there, but to explain just a little bit, the pursuit of perfection is a horrible waste of time. Perfectionism can be the enemy of good enough and get it out there. It can also be the foe of started. And like I said a couple of weeks ago, we just don’t need more enemies.
  • Progress is friendly and supportive and motivating and measurable and satisfying – we can always use more of that.

Those are all pretty decent reasons, but the most important reason of all – to me – is that I need the reminder every week.

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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What kind of progress would you like to make? If you’d like to talk about it, send me an email and we can set something up maggie@maggiehuffman.com

When you’re ready, it will happen

This is a follow on thought to “you’ll know it when you see it” from last week. It’s about timing.

I’m a pretty organized and disciplined person. Not in everything, but more so than not. I’m perfectly capable of making myself do something, making something happen, pushing through no matter what. There’s a school of thought that thinks that’s what it takes to succeed.

Oddly enough I disagree. Sure, sometimes you have to make yourself do things and make things happen. But not always. Sometimes you have to wait for the right time, wait to be ready.

I think that knowing the difference is what it really takes to succeed. Okay, to be perfectly honest, I think that’s just one of the many wonderful things it takes to succeed, but that’s a topic for another day.

You can eat a tomato before it’s fully ripe, but it won’t have all the deliciousness that it would have had when it was ripe.

You can plant your garden too early and the tender shoots can be damaged by a late frost.

There are a thousand more examples. It’s also equally true that if you wait too long to pick a tomato, it will be spoiled or the opportunity to plant will have passed.

You want to hit the right window, the sweet spot. You want to be ready.

Waiting until you are ready is not the same as procrastinating. Oh hell no. Procrastination is active resistance, and it’s hard and uncomfortable. You can tell if you are procrastinating because you’ve got lots of inner drama about how you should be doing something, or how you just aren’t going to think about it now.

Waiting for the right time is much easier, but it doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means planning and preparing. Arranging. Doing other things to make time and space. Doing the work to be ready.

I think that’s what divine timing really means, because when it finally happens, it feels divine – as if it were meant to be, as if it were so much easier than I had thought possible. And it tastes ripe and juicy and wonderful.

Sometimes we just have to risk it and do it now. Sometimes we want to be ready. It just depends…

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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If you’d like to chat about whether you are procrastinating, or what you might want to do to get ready, send me an email and we can set something up maggie@maggiehuffman.com

I’ll know it when I see it

You tell yourself that you trust your intuition, and that you’ll know it when you see it. You’re right, of course.

But sometimes, you get that little doubt. Maybe it isn’t your intuition, maybe it’s just what you want to think. Maybe you’re fooling myself. You need more proof, or maybe you need to research some more. Or maybe you should follow someone else’s advice. Or maybe a lot of things.

Don’t worry, that’s normal. You’re human. I thought I’d share some tricks I used to learn to recognize and trust my intuition more readily.

Intuition always feels pretty good, because you are in alignment with what you know on a subconscious level – even if you haven’t processed all the data yet. Even if your intuition is giving you a warning, it feels good when you follow it, like relief from anxiety.

Find the place in your body where you feel your intuition. It’s different for everyone. I call that place my Truthfinder. When I’m not sure about something, I go there to check my intuition. The more I practice, the better I get at finding my intuition.

To find your own truthfinder, remember a time where you had a strong sense of intuition. It can be a time where you did follow or didn’t, doesn’t matter. As you remember it, do a body scan and see what you feel in your body. There’s going to be a place where your intuition is making itself known. It could be in your abdomen, or a ringing in your ears, or a vibration in your chest, or a numbness in your hands or or or. Like I said, it’s different for everyone.

Having a truthfinder is really helpful in learning to trust your intuition, especially when you are looking for proof that your intuition is right.

When you look for things, you will see them.  This means if you are looking for positive things, you’ll see them. If you are looking for negative things, you will see them. There are lots of things to see. When you look for things, you ask your brain to “see” things, and it does. It’s pretty helpful to be specific about what you’re asking your brain to seek out, because, you know, be careful what you ask for!

If you look for signs and proof, you will see them – maybe not circled in an aura of rainbow light or announced by an angelic chord –  but they will appear. Your truthfinder helps you recognize them as signs, and once you see them, you will see them everywhere.

When you see them, you will see them everywhere. You might think this is coincidence, but when you are looking for things, you are giving your brain instructions to search for something specific, and to filter out the things that are irrelevant. So it does. And you find what you’re looking for everywhere.

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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If you’d like to chat about your intuition, send me an email and we can set something up maggie@maggiehuffman.com

BS Files #9: Good enough is the enemy of great

The BS Files are kinda like the X-files – full of myths and urban legends and mysterious things. I feel that it is my duty to tackle them (occasionally). Because, you know, the truth is out there.

Case #9. Good enough is the enemy of great! Bullshit!

This myth gained popularity thanks to Jim Collins. You’ve also probably heard Voltaire’s opposite, that perfect is the enemy of good. Another myth, also bullshit. Sometimes.

Here’s the real deal: Good, good enough, mediocre, great and perfect don’t need to be enemies.

Bottom line: We don’t need more enemies. We don’t need to look at things in terms of enemies in order to understand the world or our lives better. We don’t need more black and white thinking.

Black and white thinking limits our abilities to see options. It comes out of our primitive brain, which interprets everything in terms of our survival: is it  a threat, yes or no? Friend or foe? Just using the word ‘enemy’ evokes a threat. (Can you feel that in your body? I can.)

Black and white thinking turns off access to the creative parts of our brains. It severely affects our ability to make decisions that are in our own best interest. We think we are limited, that we only have two options, and we respond with some degree of feeling trapped and stuck, maybe even with desperation.

Colorful thinking, creative thinking give us options. We can see the options already in front of us, and we can think of even more options!

Okay, so once we change the language and the way of thinking, there’s still a bit more to say on this topic.

Sometimes good enough is good enough and there is nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes perfectionism is a waste of time that really does keep us stuck.

Sometimes perfect is magical, and quite subjective.

Sometimes we are called to be great at something, but not all things.

Sometimes good is part of the journey to better.

I could almost copy and past this from a previous BS Files: “First, there is no ONE way to do anything because there is no One Size Fits All, remember? There are many ways.” Okay, not almost, because I just did.

Truth: There is no one right answer, there’s the best fit for you right now.

Truth: You get to choose if a situation calls for good, bad, good enough, greatness or perfection. You choose.

Truth: Creative thinking and choice are really good friends.

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,

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p.s.  Want help figuring something out? If you’d like to talk about it, send me an email and we can set up a time to chat. maggie@talktomaggie.com

p.p.s You might say that Jim Collins was talking about business. So what, business is just people doing stuff.

Have a topic for the BS files? Let me know and I’ll give it a go!

Use your inside voice, brain!

I’m writing this during tax season, which could also be called procrastination panic season. I usually do my taxes in February, but this year I had to wait for some info, and it was complicated and I stalled and stuff came up…and I had a whole story about why I was “late” and how hard it was going to be.

“Because” it’s hard I dreaded doing them, and because I dreaded them, I avoided and on and on.

I’m just picking on taxes, but this is really about anything that I put off because I think it’s going to be hard. Thankfully, there isn’t much of that left these days. I’m pretty good at putting things on the calendar and just doing them.

I tell myself that it isn’t really hard, I’m just not in the right mindset.

I tell myself that I need to focus.

I tell myself that I just need to create the right time and space to focus.

Sometimes I tell myself to just do it anyway.

Did you notice that I tell myself a lot of stuff in this story? That’s right. I narrate the experience to myself. On purpose, with purpose.

If I don’t, my brain makes up all kinds of things to fill in the gaps. My brain is  amazing and smart and creative and protective…but not always helpful. I keep things on (my) track by narrating.

That’s how I tell my brain how to think. I don’t always have to tell it what to think, just how I want it to think – think positively, look for things to be grateful for, give people the benefit of the doubt, look for the truth, don’t be defensive. Is that point of view helping? What if that negative thing I just thought about myself isn’t true? What if it isn’t about me at all? Do I really need to be afraid? All kinds of guidance. I coach my brain, too.

I think it’s pretty funny that this thing that I do – talking to myself – is what keeps me sane, but if I were to say it all out loud, people would think I’m crazy!

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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p.s. So what’s your narrative? Want help figuring out what it could be? If you’d like to talk about it, send me an email and we can set up a time to chat. maggie@talktomaggie.com

i wanna play

It is spring – time for spring fever. I wanna play.

Inner restlessness – inside I feel like I did when I was a kid and we got to play endless games outside because the weather was finally warm enough to stay outside until it was dark.

I can smell the fresh cut grass and I feel an itch in my solar plexus.

I want to do new things. Anything seems possible.

All that hibernation and concentration in winter seems to have transformed into energy.

Spring cleaning.

I want to paint my house – or my neon legs.

I wish I had a power washer!

I need a new haircut.

I have a serious case of shiny object syndrome.

It really is time to leave some things behind. I know what they are for me. Do you know what they are for you?

Isn’t it wonderful?

Nothing lasts forever, which is both wonderful and terrible; but not boring.

Never boring.

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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p.s. So what shiny object do you want to pursue? Want help figuring out what the old thoughts and beliefs and how to think new ones that actually serve you? If you’d like to talk about it, send me an email and we can set up a time to chat. maggie@talktomaggie.com

Practice makes awesome

So for this week, more on brain busting, and a lesson from choral singing.

Last week I talked about cognitive dissonance, that thing where conflicting thoughts and beliefs makes your head explode.

I said that if your brain gets to go around unsupervised, then it will attack the new beliefs, the ones that serve you, because that’s the easiest thing to do. Well, there’s more to the story.

Your brain isn’t doing it to hurt you, or because it’s stupid, or flawed or anything like that.

Your brain is working as designed. When you aren’t managing your brain, it follows it’s default programming.

A foundational piece of your brain’s default programming is to go for the easy answer. That means that your brain will have a tendency to search for, remember and interpret information that supports your preexisting thoughts and beliefs.

That’s called confirmation bias. It happens all the time, right? We see things through the lens of what we already think and believe.

When we are in charge of our brain, that can be intentional. (In can also be one of our blind spots, but that’s a topic for a different day.)

When we let our brain run around unsupervised, when we aren’t managing our thoughts, it’s unintentional. It’s the opposite of mindful! And our brain will use confirmation bias to take a jackhammer to any new thoughts and beliefs that might conflict with your old ones.

And that, my friends, is what self sabotage is all about.

I just thought you might want to know a little more about how it happens and why.

I want to reiterate that when it happens, you’re not broken. You don’t need to be fixed. You just need to take charge of your brain. You might need to learn how to do that. You definitely need to practice.

Here’s the lesson from choral singing:

PRACTICE MAKES AWESOME.

And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!

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p.s. So what makes your head explode? Want help figuring out what the old thoughts and beliefs and how to think new ones that actually serve you? If you’d like to talk about it, send me an email and we can set up a time to chat. maggie@talktomaggie.com