Why is it so damn hard to follow your own advice sometimes?
I have had a couple of occasions recently where I have fallen foul of not listening to the advice I happily share with others.
How many times have I said to others, ‘just listen to yourself, you know!’?
Yet, it is so incredibly hard to be detached enough sometimes to realise the most simple of basics. Then there’s the other difficulty, when you have listened to yourself and know exactly what you should do, because that is what you’d tell anyone else, but find yourself utterly incapable of behaving as you know you should, or would, advise.
Maybe I’d better explain. I was struggling with the behaviours of a colleague in a managerial position where I help out from time to time. I had allowed myself to get drawn into conversation where several infuriated colleagues would pour fuel onto a smouldering fire. I had a supervisory meeting coming up and I decided that I did not want it run by this member of staff, so spoke to the man at the top.
I was flabbergasted when after explaining the situation to him he just asked, ‘have you spoken to said person?’
Not flabbergasted with him, but with myself. ‘No’, I replied, I hadn’t spoken to my colleague. That was exactly the same thing I would have said to anyone, had they come to me in that situation.
I hadn’t given my own advice a second thought. DOH!
We have since spoken and as is usual in this situation, there were a lot of misunderstandings. The relationship will still take work, on both sides, I suspect, but all the angst has gone.
Generally, if we communicate properly most misunderstandings go away.
The other example comes this week, how current do you want it? I have learnt to be come very good at diverting my attention away from unhelpful thoughts. I have lots of positive habits and practices that keep me focussed on positive things for most of the time. However, that doesn’t stop the annoying chatter that my mind engages in almost constantly. Generally it’s positive, but when there’s an anxiety (blogged about that before) that’s always sitting in the background ready to jump at a moment’s notice you always have to be on the lookout and wary.
During a recent conversation with my business coach, he kindly (sic!!!) pointed out that I divert my negative thoughts, which came about from unhelpful synaptic connections, rather than change the connections originally made, which would avoid the negative thoughts in the first place. Then I would be happier and may well stop attracting the very things I focus on and don’t actually want.
The technique is simple, put an elastic band on your wrist and every time you have a negative thought, snap it. It hurts and that forces your brain to make connections that don’t hurt. You’re using your conscious mind to retrain your subconscious. Your subconscious is more powerful than the conscious mind but is a creature of habit. It takes something extreme to change a habit. Will power is not enough. You just need to be aware of what you are thinking and saying. And not embarrassed to snap it in public. Mind, most people will understand, and if they don’t who cares.
I’ve got one of my wife’s hair bands, I’m way to posh for an elastic band. Well that what my self-talk is saying. We haven’t got any elastic bands, and this hair band is a little tighter than I would like.
Yesterday was bloody painful. I never realised how much thinking I do that is not as positive as I would like.
However, today presented another challenge for me. One that I failed dramatically. Well I got what I wanted, but not necessarily what I need. For reasons I needn’t go into I am doing an NVQ, I don’t want to do it, I can’t see a need for it, I am not enjoying it, for a number of reasons, but I have to do it.
If I was talking to anyone else in this situation I would be saying, ‘well, you have to do it, so accept, take it on board, decide you are going to enjoy it, crack on and get it done.’ Logically, simple right?
No, it isn’t, despite all that, I find I just shut down, only contribute when I am spoken to and then only in monosyllables, probably just become an energy sink. Add to that, there have been errors in assessing my contributions, and I have just discovered that they haven’t been done as required. Using holiday as an excuse I have some cataloguing of paragraphs to do, have avoided any other input and scarpered.
Despite knowing better and behaving totally (!) out of character I found myself unable to engage as I should do.
I’d have been snapping that elastic band constantly for two hours….
Simon Pollard Urban Countryman April 2023