I’m willing to bet there is what I call a brain loop standing in between you and that thing.
Brain loops are thought patterns. They’re mental grooves that you’ve traveled many times before and they always lead back to the same place—which is where you are right now, not having the thing that you really want.
Brain loops are based on beliefs, and are fueled by judgments.
Here’s what a typical brain loop (that has been way oversimplified for the sake of relatability) looks like:
Maybe they drive you nuts. Something about the way they behave or even just carry themselves annoys you. For me, once upon a time, this was people I assumed to be rich. I’d see someone pull into the Whole Foods parking lot in her Mercedes, sporting Gucci sunglasses, and I’d think, “What an a-hole!” (I wrote about this in this previous post.)
Or, maybe they bring out your competitive side—something good happens to them and it makes you want to go out and one-up them somehow. This could be a colleague who has just gotten a great new gig.
Or, perhaps the emotion that this certain person makes you feel is jealous—how could it possibly be fair that they have what they have? This might be your friend with a doting partner when you are feeling tragically single.
Have you ever wondered what the heck I’m thinking?
Or kind of smirked and thought, “She doesn’t love me; she doesn’t even know me!”
Well, here’s why I do it:
I love you.
I am chuckling as I write this. It’s just so great that I get to just decide that I want to start working with people I love and loving the people I work with. And that I get to use a non-businessy word like “love” in all my business-related emails. It appeals to the rule breaker in me.
This is a photo of a top I purchased in 2007 while visiting my grandmother in Florida. We were at Loehmann’s, which was a little bit too posh for my grandmother—she preferred to do her discount shopping at TJ Maxx. Preferably on Tuesdays, when seniors get an extra discount.
But I had dragged her to Loehmann’s, because I love it. She was humoring me, because she loved me. We did our usual routine—circle the store, amass a huge pile of clothes to try on, and then hit the dressing room. She’d mostly nod no, but occasionally some piece of clothing would get a thoughtful look and elicit a “Not bad.”
I tried this shirt on, and my grandmother couldn’t get on board. Especially after she looked at the price tag. A silk shirt from Theory, it was $100. At Loehmann’s. She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. I looked at myself in the mirror. I loved it. She grimaced. I bought it.
I’m guessing that if we took a picture of your kitchen sink at this very moment, it wouldn’t look anything like this beauty. Am I right?
I’d also wager that how you feel about the disparity between your real-world sink and this idealized version reveals quite a lot about, well everything: your relationship, your self-esteem, even your productivity and fulfillment on the career front.
How can a sink and its contents possibly have any bearing on all these other areas? Because, my dear friends:
This is for all you smart cookies out there. You know who you are—you’re good at anticipating things that are going to happen, you can see all sides of an issue, you’re great at doing what you say you’re going to do, you care about doing a good job and are capable of getting a lot of great things done.
I’m guessing that if you recognize yourself in the above description, you also have a tendency to over-think. Sometimes those smarts work against you, in that they’ve got you convinced that if you just think hard enough, you’ll be able to figure everything out—what to do, what to say, who to be.
I have news for you:
Sometimes you just don’t know how things are going to go down.
“Pull in your horns.”
Throughout my 20s and 30s, I spoke with my grandmother every Saturday morning—she would call like clockwork at 9am, much to my roommates’ and then my husband’s chagrin. She’d always ask if anything exciting had happened. And in those inevitable times when I relayed some setback, she’d reply, “It’s time to pull in your horns.”
Which basically meant, stop spending money.
It makes sense that she felt this way; after all, Gommy did live through the Depression. But here’s what I know now: Money is energy. If you try and cut off the outgoing flow, you will also cut off the incoming flow. “Pulling in your horns” = contraction. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the money in my life to contract.
Here’s proof that there are messages from the universe everywhere: I was reading People magazine last night, and it completely validated and reiterated something that’s been coming in to my awareness (and popping up in my talks with clients).
It’s about one of my favorite words.
I was reading an article about Anne Hathaway, and what she’s up to now that she’s been an Oscar winner for a full year now. Turns out she’s a Broadway fanatic, and she quotes one of her favorite lyrics from Stephen Sondheim’s play Into the Woods:
“Must it all be either less or more / Either plain or grand? / Is it always or? / Is it never and?”
And then she says, “I kind of approach my life from a place of and.”
What I think people are trying to say when they utter those words is, “I shouldn’t get so upset. I should be more serene, all the time, no matter what is happening. I should be able to shut down my feelings.”
Am I right?
What I hear when I hear people say it is, “I’m afraid to feel my emotions.” And, “I feel bad about the way I’m feeling right now. Something about what I’m feeling is wrong.”
It sounds like an enlightened thing to say, but there’s a lot of fear and self-judgment implied in those six little words. And I can promise you one thing – fear and self-judgment are a great way to get and stay upset.
I am a big fan of taking action. All kinds of action, really – small consistent steps that add up to greatness over time, anything that’s different than what you would normally do, anything that gets you out of being stuck, anything that will give you feedback that you can use to decide what action to take next.
If you want different results, you’ve got to take different actions. (Click to Tweet!)
But there is one action that’s always in your back pocket that it is all too easy to forget about. And maybe even a little scary to contemplate. But it is so powerful. Like, dropping an eight in a game of Crazy Eights powerful. Lay this puppy down and bam! Everything changes.