We All Have a Story

We all have a story.

In preparation for a book my husband and I are working on, “How to Stay Married,” I have been perusing old journals.  I have a lot of them! I started keeping a journal many years ago when a woman I respected encouraged me to keep a chronicle of life lessons. Her reasoning was that someday, I would write.  I so appreciate her nudging. She told me that when I was ready to write about my journey, my journals would give me accurate recall. To pass along truth is important to me, so I am deeply glad that I took her advice and now have written accounts of experiences and lessons that have brought me into my ThirdThird.

Last week, I spend some time in the 1980’s. The 80’s were full years for me.  Our last 2 children, one miscarriage, a diagnosis of cervical cancer while I was pregnant with #5, our only daughter. After her birth and subsequent surgery, I spiraled into a puzzling physical weakening that was eventually (after 2.5 years of doctors and testing) diagnosed as myasthenia gravis. In spite of those difficulties, those years had some deeply positive results for me.

Those years brought me to several of my life mantras.  

Refusing to be “controlled by others’ insecurities” came from these days.  Other women close to me did not believe that I might actually be sick. I grew weary of hearing others’ complaints and the ensuing competition for who had it harder with their life as wife and mother.  I determined not to talk about my difficulties and went on with my life. I learned to face my own insecurities and to seek health for myself.

Deciding “I would not be insecure” also grew from this time.  I knew my body and my history and I had to be determined to get to the bottom of my weakness…even if my friends doubted me and doctors tended to scratch their heads and suggest another test or specialty. I learned to trust myself and my own experience.

I learned and grew through weakness.  I remember, especially, learning to be thankful for my own experience of being weak because it helped me understand people who are not strong. Weak people had always annoyed me, rather than elicit sympathy. Until I experienced weakness myself. I learned to prioritize my responsibilities and to take “one step at a time” towards learning to live with the reality of the day.

Good things came, but it was a hard time.

Reading through those journals last week took me back to some very difficult and sad times as well as reminding me of all the good and positive.

In the 1980’s, I found myself not in conformity to the organization we were deeply involved with and that led to much angst on my part. I was (am) strong willed and opinionated and a challenger. While I was committed to the stated goals of the group, I often was at odds with leadership because I didn’t naturally or easily conform. I brought my own self and my own experience and my own opinions. But, I was misunderstood, not respected. My stories were not honored.

Interestingly, a few years ago, I stumbled onto a website for people who had similar experiences to mine in that same organization.  It was mesmerizing. While I had been able to remove myself and find self-respect and health long before finding that website, it was a powerful experience to read that others had very, very similar situations to mine.  I lurked…not joining in by posting. I was past needing to express my own painful remembrances. Yet, even with that being true, it was hugely validating to see that others knew my pain, honored my story, even if they didn’t know me.

I felt that my story had been honored.

Fortunately, my marriage survived those years and those people.  Thankfully, I learned during those days to listen without becoming defensive, to look for the truth in spite of the messenger, and to forgive.

Unfortunately, I spent several strategic years in fear and dread. I lost joy and had physical repercussions. Our children were affected by the difficulty that their parents faced.

I have moved on.  

Thankfully, with grit and determination over a long period of time, I rarely consider those days now.  But recent remembering has made me acutely aware of the fact that there are people who have discounted my feelings and perspective then and now.  There are relationships that I think I would enjoy having now, if those people could honor my story.

I would be interested in knowing some of their story now.  I would honor them. Even if they were vastly different from my own. Reading my journal accounts of those interactions long ago, with time distancing my sight, I can honor the stories and understand some of today’s reality.

In the organization where my hurtful story exists, others have a different story. Some have left. Some have remained.  Others have eased away through job relocations or other life changes. Some legitimately do not see harmful practices. Others choose to ignore them.  Still others call them out and suffer the consequences. I believe that there are some who honestly do not see how their actions might be hurtful.

The one thing I would wish for is if we could all learn to honor each other’s story. Not in that organization, but on a daily, personal basis.

Wonderful stories of healing and acceptance.

    Difficult stories of pain and struggle.

         Happy stories of reconciliations and forgiveness.

        Moving stories of abuse and distrust.

         Redeeming stories of self-acceptance and solid understanding.

I heard Brene Brown say in an interview that she believes in the goodness of people…but that it is hard work to stay out of fear and to stay good.

Hearing and honoring another’s story is a way to do the good, hard work that will make us better. To face our own fears and to look for the good.

Let’s honor each other’s story.

 

 

 

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Change the Way You Think

Saying daily affirmations, out loud, is a very effective way to live on purpose.  Having true, positive statements you say about and to yourself is rewarding, energizing, focusing, and, actually, can change the way you think.

If you google “affirmations” you can find lists of suggested affirmations to tell yourself to make yourself feel better, think more positively, have greater success.   

“My heart is overflowing with joy.”

“All is well right now.”

“I nourish my body with healthy food.”

No doubt, those affirmations can be helpful.  

 

But I have a better way.

Rather than googling for words from someone else to say to yourself daily, instead, take a moment and consider your limiting beliefs.  The most effective affirmations will replace those limiting beliefs with affirming statements.  

I have been doing this for the past ten years and it is a life-changing exercise that just keeps on giving.  Replacing my limiting beliefs has been a practical way to keep growing, keep learning.

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Identifying your limiting beliefs is the first and necessary step.  

For me, as I walked the halls as CEO of the young company I was charged with making profitable, I was challenged by a coach to recognize my limiting beliefs.  I found that I had a number of them! One very limiting belief was, “I really don’t know what I am doing and I hope no one finds out!”

Truth was, I was leading a group of people into a new way of doing things with great help from the franchise, receiving information and training that was beyond adequate. I was absorbing new information easily and readily and we were off to a great start.   By telling myself that I was clueless, even in a fleeting moment, I robbed myself and the investors of this company, of some of the energy and confidence required to succeed.

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Replace the limiting beliefs with true and possible affirmations.

I replaced the above limiting belief with this affirmation, “I am a confident, successful business woman who knows where I am going and who is meeting the people and developing the skills to become outrageously successful.”  Gradually, as I repeated this, I became confident that everything I needed was available and that I was the best person to be at the helm for that time.

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Repeat them, out loud, at least once a day.

I partnered up with a younger man from a different state to do daily affirmations.  One of us would call the other and dive in. “Good morning, Andy! I am a confident, successful business woman who knows where she is going and who is meeting the people and developing the skills to become outrageously successful.”  And so on, for my 5-6 statements. Andy would say, “You rock, Debbie!” Then Andy would say his 5-6 statements, addressing his limiting beliefs. I would say something encouraging to him, we would hang up and go into our day. 2 minutes, average, was our investment.

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You will see positive results.

In those 10 years, Andy stepped out into some risky (yet rewarding) ventures that have brought him a sense of significance. He has increased his productivity and grown his business and improved his relationships. He is making more money and living with purpose. Also, he has lost a significant amount of weight and has made fitness a regular part of his life.  

Me? My affirmations gave me the courage to build that new company with a good foundation, then move to another that needed a turn-around. I have been willing to risk some investments after telling myself that “I am wise with money and have multiple sources of income.” I once recognized an opportunity when I was told they were “creating a role” for me since one of my affirmations said that exact thing…. that I “attracted ethical, successful people who recognized my strengths and created opportunities for me.”

I don’t believe that thinking about them made any of these things happen. I simply see that by changing my thinking from limiting beliefs to possible realities, I was able to see and hear and respond to possibilities when they came along.  

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Keep your affirmations current.

Affirmations need to be current and personal to effective, so adapting them is key.  

I recently revisited my limiting beliefs, since I am doing new things.  And, I wrote new affirmations. One of them that I say daily is, “I am fulfilled and happy, living on purpose and making my ThirdThird my BEST Third”.  Feel free to borrow it!

It really is possible to change the way you think.  Just recognize those limiting beliefs and replace them with truthful affirmations that are possible.  

Say them, out loud, daily, at least once, and begin to notice the positive changes in your life.  

What are your limiting beliefs?  Can you replace them with positive, possible affirmations?  Do you have examples of changing your thinking? Please go to YourBestThirdThird Facebook and share your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Strategy

Strategy

One of my Mantras is, “Be Intentional”.

Do what you say you will do… but think about it first.

Hmmm.   I can’t remember the moment I decided to live with intention, but most people who know me would probably use the word to describe me.  It might have come from watching people not be intentional.  It might have come from the hard lessons of the frustration that comes from letting others direct my efforts or decide my focus.  Whatever the source, “be intentional” has become an almost daily mantra for me.

I can’t just tell myself to be intentional, I have to have a strategy or a plan to guide my behaviors, thoughts, and actions so that I actually become intentional.

strat·e·gy

[a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.]
 
Here is my intentional strategy: 

Be Intentional-

  • Know what I believe.  I don’t have to tell everyone every thought and/or opinion I have, but I should know what I believe and why if I want to be sure I am doing or not doing what is important to me.
  • Decide for myself how I spend my time.  There are television shows that I might enjoy or benefit from.  There are books and magazines worth reading.  There are people who will add to my life if I spend time with them.  If I choose for myself, I will be less likely to succumb to advertising and marketing ploys for things I really do not want to steal my time away.
  • Don’t say “yes” or “no” too quickly.  Take time to consider how I commit my time and energy.  There will be consequences to any decision and I am wise to be as much in control of my decisions and actions as possible.
  • Don’t blame others for my own choices and results.  Own my own efforts and decisions.  Apologize when necessary.  Reimburse when appropriate.  Accept credit and praise graciously.  Say thank you and “I am sorry.”
  • Live without regrets.  If I consciously, intentionally decide what to say, how to spend time, who to be with, what to do, then the chances of having regrets is slim.

We can’t become intentional on accident. What is your strategy?

 

Perfection is Highly Overrated

Perfection

Perfection is Highly Overrated

Full disclosure… My natural inclination is not toward perfection.  I prefer to make things work, rather than fix them.  I had a VW bug that needed a new starter (1970’s) and rather than spend the money to get it fixed, I always parked on a hill (easy in Austin, TX) so I could push it and pop the clutch to get it started (that worked well until I moved to Lubbock, TX, where there are no hills).

I get my face and hair to the point that I am satisfied and then I don’t look in a mirror for the rest of the day.  I have written a weekly newspaper column and this blog and others, but could not bear the tedium of trying to write good poetry.  I have no problem creatively substituting chicken for shrimp or cauliflower for potatoes or flour for cornstarch rather than making another trip to the store. I don’t regularly check the air in my tires or the balance in my checkbook or get birthday cards mailed on time.

Perfection is Overrated

I do have an appreciation for doing things well and right and correctly, though.  In truth, I am a rules follower (if I have deemed the rules worthy of being followed).  Grammar, driving, attendance, polite behavior, reading a book from the front to the back, putting your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, doing that you say you will do…all of those examples and others like them should definitely be done following the rules.

There are times when doing things close to perfect is important.  Trying your hand at carpentry?  You should definitely measure twice, cut once.  Knitting an afghan?  It makes a difference if you check the dye lot on every skein of yarn.  Going on an overseas trip?  Checking the expiration date of your passport is prudent.  Heading for a baseball game at Wrigley Field?  Checking the weather can prevent being way too cold on a blustery day in August.

I am all for doing things well…
striving for perfection, however, is an entirely different thing.

The pursuit of perfection on an everyday basis wastes time, prevents communication, halts progress, frustrates goals, annoys others, gives false impressions, and generally keeps progress from happening.  Finding the reality of “perfect enough” saves a lot of misspent energy and time.

 

 

 

 

Straight and Sturdy and Strong

sturdy and strong

My husband and I happened to be in a house recently that was next door to one we lived in long ago.  It brought back a lot of memories and we smiled a lot while remembering our lives and our family at that place, that stage of our journey.

We remembered a lot of work there, too.

We are always remodeling, upgrading, adding to homes, it seems.  Once, I counted 17 different addresses we’ve had in our 43+ years of marriage and in each, we left our mark of added rooms, new roofs, refinished floors, etc., etc.

At this particular past address, Dave noticed the fence he had built 30 years ago. He designed it and erected it by hand with his carpenter/friend. Six feet tall, made of wood, handsome lattice at the top, it is still straight and sturdy and strong.

No warping.

No sagging.

No leaning.

I think back to my life there in that home and realize that home is where I started building my strong life, digging a deep foundation for where I am now…making my BEST ThirdThird.

We were living there when I learned about wiring and started studying and sharing the life-changing information that comes from understanding self and others in terms of DiSC behavior styles.

It was there that I decided I would no longer be insecure.

There I learned there were certain volunteer efforts that I should say no to because I wasn’t all that good at them and others could do them better.

In that home, I learned to be grateful and to appreciate the moment.

Now, I stand straight and sturdy and strong….just like the fence Dave built.

Weathered a bit.

Needing a fresh coat of paint occasionally.

Showing age if you look closely.

But, standing straight and sturdy and strong.

With gratefulness and purpose.

 

 

 
photo credit: Nanagyei Droplets – HFF via photopin (license)

I Will No Longer Be Insecure

I think I came pre-wired to be paranoid… to care too much what others thought about me.  And, I was born into a family that poured water and fertilizer into that fertile soil of fear and the desire to be well thought of.

My issue isn’t so much that I want to be liked.  I want to be respected; well thought of.  Considered to be intelligent and a source of accurate information.

The result of my wiring and my (relatively informal) training, is that I became very introspective in my early adult years.  I was always rehashing and analyzing every conversation I had.  (It didn’t help that my social group was relatively small and tight and narrow.)

“Why did I say that?”  

“I wonder if they knew that I meant ______ and not _____.”

 “I hope they don’t call me and want to talk to me about our interaction.”  

“What are they thinking about me?”

I often feared that I was in trouble or thatI had been misunderstood or that I had inadvertently offended someone.(Offense would definitely have been inadvertent, since I feared offending anyone, and though I am out-spoken, I am not mean-spirited.)

One day, after an interaction at a meeting, I was in my home doing my usual wonder-wonder/rehash-rehash and suddenly realized I was wasting a lot of energy and thought over something I had no control over.

  • How could I know what someone else was thinking?
  • How could I know what someone else was paranoid and insecure about?
  • Why did I feel as if I was the only one who had responsibility for how a conversation went?

Sigh.  Too much angst for a young mother who had her hands and her life full of small lives and a busy husband.

So… I decided to take action.  Sort of action.  Anyway, I decided to be different.  To think differently. I decided I would no longer be insecure.  It was that simple.

I told my husband, “Dave, I have decided not to be insecure any more.  If I do or say something that I know has offended someone else, I will quickly accept responsibility and ask forgiveness.  If it is not obvious to me that I have intentionally or unintentionally offended someone, I will not spend any time worrying about whether I have offended someone.”

“And,” I continued, “I will assume that if I have offended someone, it is their responsibility to bring it to my attention so I can apologize.”

I don’t recall Dave’s response.  Probably because he was dumb-struck from wonder and glee.  This was a turning point in my life. It was good change.

Of course, there certainly have been times since the big decision that I have second-guessed myself or wondered how a conversation had gone from the other person’s perspective.  But, I have been able to remind myself that I am only responsible for myself and that I need to show up full of who I am, ready to give and be, conscious of others around me, but not fearful of how I will be perceived or judged.
**As a post script…..I told a friend that I had made the decision to stop being insecure.  I do admit that this young woman was one of the main intimidators in my life at the time.  I tend to be upfront and open so I told her I had come to the conclusion that I was simply going to believe that who I was would be adequate and that I was no longer going to be insecure.  She laughed.  Laughed!  “You can’t decide to not be insecure!”  Ha.

So she thought.

You Spot it, You Got It Mantra

you spot it, you got it

You Spot It, You Got It

I have “ThirdThird Mantras.”  Words to live by. Lessons learned. Guidelines for designing my BEST ThirdThird.

An important manta for me is “You Spot It, You Got It.”

It goes like this…..I meet someone and they begin to explain to me that (or treat me like) they know more about our topic than I do. Without ever clarifying my interest or experience. Assuming that I know nothing.  It is very annoying to me.  A “pet peeve,” in fact.

But guess what? I realize that I can be just like that if I am not intentionally caring about others. I can jump in and run on and slash and burn with the best/worst of them if unchecked. It takes thought and care and practice for me to genuinely care to hear other people’s thoughts and experiences and concerns.

“You Spot It, You Got It” is a gentle reminder that being critical of someone else is often shining a spot light on a personal area of need.

I remember clearly from my childhood an instance when I was critical of a friend’s approach toward another person. My mother pointed out to me that, quite often, what you notice as a deficit in others is probably a deficit in yourself.

Ouch. I remember at the time reacting to that, confidently stating that I didn’t have the annoying character defect I noticed in my friend. Of course, privately in my own thoughts later, I could clearly see that my mother was right.

It is a principle that I have not been able to forget. I have passed it on to others and have used it for my own efforts at living life on purpose, letting my occasional 20/20 insight into others’ lives be mirrored back to benefit my own growth.

As an example, lateness is an irritating habit in other people that I have to constantly monitor in my own life. I can be highly offended when others are late to meet me, but effectively justify my own tardiness.  Unless I am remembering this gem from my childhood. You Spot It, You Got It.

How to use this life mantra

This is a good mantra to get into your head.

If you have a friend who is a constant complainer and you can’t help but notice, there is a good chance you are a complainer.

If you easily spot the person who demands to be the center of attention, you might be, just a little bit, wishing you were more noticed.

If you are frustrated with people who make assumptions without facts, guess what?  Check your own facts.

When there is a habit or behavior that you quickly pick up on and react to in others, chances are it is a quality that you, yourself, are demonstrating to others.

“You Spot It, You Got It” is a useful tool.  When you are annoyed with someone, stop and think about it.

Does “someone” use social media when you are in a conversation and it annoys you?  You might check to see how often you find yourself checking your phone during meetings or at dinner. It is often easier to spot the truth in others than it is in ourselves.

The “You Spot It, You Got It” mantra might be a slightly painful tool to use initially, but it can become fun.  It is certain to be instructive for your efforts at designing your BEST ThirdThird.

It took me a while when my mother pointed it out to me long ago, but it is a lesson I learned early and for some reason, it has stuck with me.

photo credit: amseaman Binocular Boy via photopin (license)