A reader writes in, “I’m really good at helping my friends and family with advice when they are having problems in their life but when things come up for me, I can’t seem to figure them out. Why is that?”
Perspective? Lack of attachment? No limiting beliefs around the issue? There are lots of reasons why advising others is easier than advising ourselves. When I’m stuck in an issue it can feel kind of like swimming in muddy water.
My thoughts, worries, concerns, old patterns and critical thoughts swirl around in my head making it a real reach to gain clarity. Here are some self-help hints:
1. Write the concern or issue down on a piece of paper.
2. Underneath, divide the page into three columns and put one heading in each column: “feelings/emotions”, “facts”, “limiting thoughts”.
3. Write down all of the feelings and emotions you have about the issue. Keep writing until you emptied it all out on the page.
4. In the “facts” column, write down the information you have that is concrete.
5. In the last column, when you consider a resolution to the issue, what limiting thoughts come up? Write those down.
If, for example, you didn’t get invited to an event at a friend’s place and your feelings are hurt, you will write down in column one that you feel hurt, left out, angry, upset, etc. In the next column, the facts might be that she had an event, you weren’t invited, her place is small and mostly family attended. If you don’t know the facts then find out by asking. (Next week, we’ll design a powerful conversation for addressing upsets so check back in for this.)
The obvious resolution is to have a conversation to clear things up. When you consider doing this, notice the limiting thoughts that come up and write them down…they may include what if the other person gets angry, I’m not good at confrontation, it doesn’t really matter.
Now sit back and look at your three columns. Most likely, your column of facts will be the shortest and the other two will be longer. What insights does this give you? If you set aside the emotions and limiting beliefs, how big of an issue is this one situation really? What is underneath it that is making it larger? Lack of self-confidence, a build up of related issues over time?
You can gain some great insights and some good perspective by taking this kind of approach…but sometimes when you are sitting in muddy water, all you can see is brown and this is a great time to get some outside support.
When I need clarity, when I need to put the feelings and emotions into perspective, I work with my coach. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel them and process them. I do. But it becomes a piece of an overall process, not the entire process. When limiting thoughts hold me back from taking action to resolve the situation, we work through those until I’m able to see that they are typically unfounded or that if they do come to pass, I am prepared to deal. When you can use tools get clarity on your own, that’s great. But also know when to reach out for help and get some support so you don’t get stuck.