Are you in the groove or in a rut?
Some of you may have an immediate sound associated with this image. The end of the last track on an album either triggered the arm to return to its resting place, or to just run in place playing the same static over and over.
Our minds work in much the same way. We program ourselves to move from one track to the next. Occasionally, we allow life's little nicks to create ruts and we don't move on. We repeat the same behavior that leads to the same response that creates the story we believe to be the truth about our existence.
I love it when a song catches me by surprise with exactly the message I need to hear. U2's Stuck in a Moment should play in the background of this post.. Take four minutes to give this a listen. It will be the next best thing to being in the car with me!
Now I know there are all sorts of clinically real diagnoses that limit one's ability to change his or her attitude. But for most of us, the stories we see and the truths we believe are the ones we create. They become our little mental ruts. From the rut, we can't see any other options. We limit ourselves. We limit others. We seize any little negative nugget or minor hurt and create building material to shore up the walls of our ruts so they become even deeper.
"I knew he'd do that." "This always happens to me." "I don't have enough money/the right degree/the right clothes/the right skills/the right friends/my mother screwed me up/my coach didn't let me play/they're all snobs/no one talks to me..."
Please don't interrupt. I'm busy playing with my mental blocks.
You all know I love the question, "Is that a fact?" It's a great way to remove the emotional charge from a situation so you can choose the most appropriate response. Maybe there are more questions to challenge ourselves to find a new groove and a fresh perspective. Here are a few...
Is this all? A good query when you think you know the story and you're ready to jump into a situation based on limited information.
What's your story? There is no way for us to ever know what motivates another person. We come to conclusions from the recesses of our animal brains trained only to watch for behaviors and signs. People make loads of money training sales people to read others. You know what I think? We just need to get to know each other.
Maybe he's not a jerk, just really insecure. Maybe she's not a snob, just shy. We don't know. But I do know that very few people would tell you their story is all about being a jerk or being a snob. You don't know what you don't know. And if you aren't going to take the time to find out who someone really is, why should their behavior matter anyway!!? Stop judging the book by its cover if you're not interested in reading.
What have I done? When I used to bring my playground heartaches home to my Mother, she'd always remind me that if I was hurting, someone else was hurt, too. With a few notable exceptions (like child abusers) if something is wrong in a relationship, there is more than one transgressor. Taking time to figure that out is hard work. It requires a lot of listening and introspection that most of us rather skip as we continue our headlong rush to Blamesville. It is so easy to become the victim--in your marriage, your friendships, your workplace. When you hear your inner record playing the same track of "I've been cheated..." over and over and over...you're creating a rut.
What are the other questions we can ask? How can we dig past the superficial layers of assumptions to uncover the roots of goodness in a situation?
They're always there you know. In everything. You just have to find them, nurture them and let goodness grow.