Just show up

Sometimes all we are required to do is show up. This is hard to remember in a world where success is based on results and output and efficiency.

Showing up is what connects us and makes us human.

Results are not always the benchmark in mental health. You could be the greatest therapist in the world and your client could stay right where they are.

People move and change when they are ready. It has little to do with me, really, except to provide a safe space and a listening heart. I’m the facilitator, that’s all.

There is no “A game,” because it’s not about me.

If you’ve come from a performance environment this is hard to get used to. Progress in the mind is difficult to measure in any meaningful way. And even when you can measure it, you can’t even say it was because of something you did.

The line gets drawn back to the client because they did the work.

And on those frazzled days when it takes all your good effort just to show up, you find out later one comment you made struck a chord. You might not even remember it. You may have been trying to clarify something, not be prolific.

But there it is. A little breakthrough.

And you keep going, and you keep showing up.

#alwaysbegrowin’

What’s your story?

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What’s your story?

As any Game of Thrones fan will tell you, today’s stories (both fake and real) are powerful and shape attitudes. We root for, or vilify, our favorite characters. We vehemently discuss the ramifications of their decisions as if they were our own neighbors.

We binge on stories like Doritos at the end of a tough week.

But what about your story? Is it too simplistic to think of our lives as a story we tell ourselves?

And does that story make a difference in how you live your life? (Sorry, is that too many existential questions on a Monday?)

We all have a story. And we perform in our lives according to the story we tell ourselves.

Life is sometimes like an Encyclopedia Brown book. Do you remember this delightful series of children’s books?

Encyclopedia Brown was a super smart kid who operated his detective agency out of his parents’ garage and charged a whopping 25 cent fee for his super sleuthing services (this actually seems quite possible today).

After setting about his task of interviewing and gathering intelligence on a case, Encyclopedia Brown arrived at a critical decision point.

At the end of the story, you, the reader, were presented with Brown’s last clue and you, the reader, had to figure out the end of the story on your own. Seems fair. (You could easily flip to the back of the book for the answer, but I didn’t roll like that.)

The clues Encyclopedia Brown uncovered up to that point — and how you interpreted them — determined where you might take the story.

And if you’re little Lori in her little white reading chair by the west window and you’re not just flipping to the back of the book, you can discover a whole realm of new possibilities for the next part of the story.

If the only clues you leave for yourself in your story are negative, or maladaptive, thoughts and perceptions, then how will you advance your story in any meaningful way?

How do you expect that you will get to the end and go, “Ah-ha, yes, I knew it!”

I get it. Most of the time we want to focus on what’s not going right because it’s so tangible. You can feel the bad stuff pretty easily and with very little training.

Maybe those negative clues also remove some of our responsibility as the author of our story. My story stunk because I got bad clues, so yeah….

It’s true that you have no control over the series of events that enter your story. You don’t.

But you can decide 1) to decide something and 2) what decisions to make to keep the story going in a direction that benefits you. You always, always have that power.

If your story has some really painful and hurtful events, this is a lot harder to do, for sure. You have some back story work to do to get to a place where you can make healthy decisions.

But you still have the power to do those two things. Decide and keep going.

With the help of compassionate characters in your story, you can place those events into their rightful place in your narrative.

So, without looking at the back of the book, what will be your story?

Keep it simple, y’all

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past 20 years is to keep your plans simple. If I succeeded at anything I had only to look back and see this was true more than any other whiz bang, multi-layered plan I concocted.

In fact, when I look back on my more complicated endeavors, they are most often my more spectacular failures. Go figure.

We’re under a lot of pressure these days to be very amazing in a very short period of time. I’m not even sure why. But I think many of us feel it. This pressure is a terrific recipe for anxiety and depression. And it’s not necessary.

Simple means you can do something every day. So many times I tell my clients to just do one thing different today in the general direction of where you would like to be. Don’t try to blow it outta the box on Day 1. You don’t need to crush it necessarily. Just move.

Are you isolating because you’re depressed? Go out and take a short walk in your neighborhood. Maybe you’ll run in to actual neighbors. This may lead to a little discussion — about your kids, or the weather, or the Miami Dolphins. Great job!

Now do that again tomorrow. That’s it. That’s all that’s needed to move yourself closer to where you want to be.

Happy Monday!

#TGIM

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Will you plant your flag this Monday?

Have you heard of Shonda Rhimes? She’s the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal on ABC, along with about six other huge shows.

She just inked a deal with Netflix that must be pretty big because no one will publicly give out the numbers. She’s spent the last 20 years quietly honing her craft and sharing her limitless imagination with the world. She’s fearless and apparently pretty productive, and it seems to be paying off for her quite nicely.

She may have cracked the code that consistent, disciplined, committed, focused hard work might be the key in anything: TV show development, living a healthier life, improving your technical skills, recovering from a mental illness, being a better parent….

Why do we think we can bypass that part?

We’re quick to dismiss people like Shonda Rhimes as just lucky. Or she had the right connections. Or maybe her fame and fortune is not the definition of success for most of us anyway. Or you don’t like her shows. Whatever.

But obviously it can be done. The roadmap does exist, and it’s not encrypted or anything. It’s not easy but it is simple.

This is the challenge every day brings, not just our precious Mondays.

#TGIM

When your shell gets busted

Why, oh why, do we worry what people think about us? Why does it matter that someone seems to speak badly of us, in spite of our best efforts to please? Or appear to ignore us when we’ve gone the distance for them? That hurts.

Have you met someone who seems to easily blow right past these kinds of things? They cavalierly throw their head back, shake their fist at the sky in blind anger and say they don’t care at all what people think of them. You can watch the back of their head whilst they walk away.

I don’t believe ‘em.

I think they do care; I’m pretty sure they care a lot. But I think their mojo is that they’ve learned to manage their own perceptions of other people’s actions.

How do they do that?

Here’s the deal: It’s not what people think about you that matters. It’s what you think people think about you.

Yup. It’s more about you and less about them.

Don’t you just hate that?

So how do we get there? How do we know what’s for real so we can move past it?

Acknowledge the pain.

If you feel hurt, then you are hurt. That’s really okay. Our feelings are an indicator of what needs our attention. Just because someone says they “didn’t mean it that way” doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

Your feelings are your experience. No one else can tell you you’re not feeling something or shouldn’t feel something (my personal favorite).

You are the sole authority on what and how you feel.

BUT you can’t get stuck here. If you step out of the mud for a minute, then you’ll realize that you can actually decide what you believe about the source of that pain.

Boom. Read on.

Challenge your perceptions.

You don’t have to take everything that is said or done to you at face value. Just because words were formed and projected into the air towards you doesn’t mean they 1) were well thought out 2) contain any factual truth and 3) really have anything to do with you.

Put your muddy finger on the pause button for a second and ask yourself, “What else could be going on here? What could I be missing? Where’s the remote?”

This can take some of the emotional edge off of frustrating events.

Maybe you just heard it the wrong way (clarification never hurts).

Maybe they’re a jerk and treat everyone that way (then in this particular case it’s not about you at all, yay!).

Maybe, like Wonder Woman, you just don’t have all the information about who you really are, but they see it and they don’t like it and want to throw lightning at you (anybody else love that movie?!).

Get creative but come up with something that’s less about you being a horrible person and more about you being the victor in your own life story.

Call it denial if you want. In this case it might be the best way to move on from people who may have nothing invested in you anyway. Plus you will also be able to go on and have a great day.

Recognize that we all have different ways of perceiving the world.

I think social media has more than proven this point. With all of the ways we can now share our unique perspectives along with our food choices, you really have no way to know where people are truly coming from.

Unless you ask them, of course. And even then, you still won’t have the complete picture because you’re not in their head.

Inasmuch as you have your own undeniable experience, other people are having theirs, too.

Dang it.

Someone who hurts you is responding based on their own perceptions of the world. Their own upbringing, their own personal models of how to relate to people, and their own feelings of inadequacy.

Just like you.

It’s not that people always have it in for you. For most people, it’s just that they’re scared, too. Don’t underestimate the power of fear. It makes people do some pretty stupid things.

I say this all the time, but don’t be afraid to run interference on your emotions.

Instead of letting your mind run away with all the reasons someone doesn’t like you, challenge those reasons and design a different perspective for yourself.

#alwaysbelearnin

Your work is a gift

Sometimes we can’t change our circumstances. Sometimes all we can do is offer who we are and the work that comes from deep inside us to the world, without necessarily understanding the full story.

Or how it may affect others.

If you know anything about Oprah, she’s a prime example of knowing what you have to offer the world in spite of how others think you may or may not fit in. It’s not like she doesn’t care about any of that stuff. She just seems to understand that her life’s work is probably less about results and more about the things she can influence and affect.

Her success is less about her billion dollar plus valuation (that one is more about her own keenness to look for opportunities) and more about her determination to keep honing her craft in spite of the distractions and incoming arrows.

This is easy to talk about in a glossy magazine interview, but unbelievably hard to do in real life.

Especially when no one’s noticing you.

I don’t think Oprah gets enough credit for this part.

On a difficult Monday morning, where devastating news on several fronts can threaten to dampen our spirits, there is still plenty of room for us to offer our unique work to others who may need it.

We don’t get to sit back and give up just because the world is on fire, or our own home or work circumstances are not ideal.

And we’re not entitled to know the results or get the satisfaction of closing the feedback loop on the service or work we do.

Our real responsibility is just to offer it.

#tgim
#alwaysbeofferin’