22 Sep Do the Right Thing
If you are like me, you have this annoying voice in your head that barks at you, commanding that you should do this or not do that – if you are to be worthy, loveable, a winner rather than a loser. Meet my gremlin, the voice in my head: Sister Agatha. She means well, but is judging, sanctimonious, and very bossy. Persistent, like a dog with a bone, and crafty with the lever of shame. Sister Agatha lobbies me to do things that I don’t really want to do, and to do things that aren’t always good for me.
And so, I invite you to mix things up a bit, and embark on a day, perhaps a week, of no “shoulds.” Just see what you can learn from adjusting the lens on your choice-making process.
To make this work, you must be very deliberate in interrupting the voice of your gremlin to make space for your own considered actions. My tactic for interrupting Sister Agatha is to insert a pause – long enough to consider what was really best for me. Sometimes this is a long pause. Take the time you need to stop the reflex of “yes” to a request, when saying “no” might be the better response for you. You might need to stop long enough to ask: what do I really want to do in this situation? If this is not clear, probe further and ask: what action best serves my goals (for today, in the bigger picture)? And then the clincher, ask: If I do this, what am I not going to do?
When I practiced this exercise recently, I was reminded of a few things. First of all, making a considered choice feels really good. It is self-care. Some of my choices were met with disappointment from others. And, that is okay. The world continued to spin and I was not I deemed an unworthy colleague, a partner, or a friend by saying “no.” Secondly, I noticed that a lot of my deliberations of choice were about allocating my time, that most precious of commodities. Try as I might, I simply cannot expand the pie of time. Thirdly, I learned that once I was able to set aside the disappointment of others or the guilt of not doing X, I had a heck of a lot more fun and flow in what I was choosing to do, because I was doing what mattered most to me. Finally, I learned that sometimes Sister Agatha was right. At times, there are things we have to do that are the right thing to do – all things considered.
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