Have you ever noticed that everything is a problem for some people in your life? Perhaps you have even gotten to the point with some people that you just don’t want to be around them because of their negativity.
When our beliefs and stories continue to be problems, that’s like a pastry chef assuming that cooking in a new kitchen will mean his deserts will all burn. But, how critical can you be about your own beliefs and the stories you tell yourself? How often are you able to identify whether something is actually a problem or not?
There is an extremely powerful way to simply move any challenge from that of a problem to something that can be of benefit to you, or more aptly stated, from that of impossibility to as if it had already occurred for your benefit.
Rumi said, “Look for the answer inside your question”
Before we can get into how to move something from a bad to a good, it’s important to take a look at the questions you are using to qualify your belief.
If you are asking things like “what is wrong?”, “why is it a problem?”, “what caused it?”, or “who’s fault is it?”, then you are working from circumstance, or you being at effect of your environment.
If instead you can ask questions like “what outcome do I want?”, “how can I get it?” and “what resources are available?”, we then move to being at cause in our environment and accepting responsibility for what good is to come.
In order to move from a problem to a benefit, we must first understand the deletion, distortion or generality in the belief statement, Whether you are asking critically of yourself or seeking to understand others, here are the steps you can follow.
Step 1. So what? But, not in a rude and disrespectful manner. I simply want to to know the rest of the story. Think of this like an “If…Then” statement. If the first is true, then what effect must occur.
Step 2. What does this Mean? Simply, what meaning do you give to the statement. Is it positive or negative, there is almost never a neutral statement.
Step 3. Positive Reframe. Simply become aware of whether you are viewing it in a limiting or constraining manner. If the belief statement is not positive, ask yourself the questions that would move it from a problem to a desired outcome.
The quality of your life is directly proportional to the quality of the questions you ask.
Being an entrepreneur is lonely. The more successful you are, the more isolated you become.
There is an extremely high likelihood that your family is supportive, but they still don’t “get it”. Your friends, or at least your old ones, either shit on your ideas and tell you why they won't work or they give you blank stares and head nods in agreement whenever you try to talk about your growth plans or business initiatives.
And your own worst enemy….YOU
How often have you found yourself saying things like….
I don’t have enough time in the day
My business is different from others
I don’t have access to the same resources as my competitors so we are limited in what we can do
This wont work because _________
At the root of all of these statements are simply the stories that we tell ourselves. Take a moment and observe your surroundings. What do you see that you know to be categorically true?
The pavement is hard
My car is black
My child is 8
You see, our language is really just a representational system for our thoughts and feelings, but as humans we tend to speak in distortions, deletions and generalities. Don’t take my word for it, but very little things are actually true. Take a look at the examples above.
How hard is the pavement? How do you know it’s hard? Is it hard if I drove a motorcycle on it? How about a bulldozer?
What shade of black is my car? If I put it in a chamber completely free of light, is it still black?
Is my child actually 8? Is she almost 8 or 8 and a half? Based on the Gregorian calendar or Julian calendar? Was she premature or overdue?
What these distortions, deletions and generalities neglect is the meaning that we assign to our statements.
The pavement is hard….so I am confident I can safely drive my car
My car is black…which means it hides dirt easily
My child is 8….which means she is in the second grade
One of the most powerful things you can do is to stop and ask what story you are telling yourself. If there is even the slightest chance your story doesn’t enable you to be the highest version of you, pause, and think through how someone else might view the situation.
There are two statements in my house that are “Pause” statements.
“Pause” statements are little resets that help to get our lives back in balance.
With two kids, two dogs, my life as an entrepreneur, my wife working on her book and the thousands of other tasks that occur in a week, it is very easy to get distracted and allow frustrations to derail any amount of goodness a day may have.
When Jenny says “That’s a story”, that’s her version of giving me a spoonful of my own medicine.
You see, I am fully aware of the stories that I tell myself. So aware in fact that I find self-coaching to be one of the most effective tools in my arsenal to determine how REAL something may or may not be.
Often times when she says “that’s a story”, my response is simply “yeah, but it serves me”
This happens a lot when it comes to guarding my energy, making critical decisions about the growth trajectory of the business, taking on risk or even making decisions about going out with friends.
What I know to be true is that embedded in any of my statements are the meanings I give to the statements themselves that I just don’t say out loud- perhaps out of laziness or just a lack of context
If I say “I have a meeting at 2”, that could mean 1,000 things
…..so I need the house to be quiet
…..I have to fire an employee
…..to sign a new contract
…..I can’t pick the kids up from school
When I hear people around me make these statements that clearly lack context, how I respond is often times the difference between disappointment and opportunity.
What I used to do was apply my own meaning, using my best judgement of the context and situation, expectations, and even my own emotional state.
What I do now is to simply be curious, doing my best to understand how someone else put’s their reality together.
I simply want to know what that means for you and how you put your own reality together so that I may do my best to see through your eyes.
And when Jenny calls me out— “Thats a story”——I have to get very critical of how I am putting my own reality together, what meaning I am giving to my own statements, and get critical about whether thats the most empowering way I can view the situation.
When I get critical about the stories I tell myself I want to know whether I am viewing the situation from the viewpoint of a problem or an outcome.