Un-Mindful Communication: The Fallacy of Using “I”.

 Gratisography.com from Pexels.com

We have all heard the advice, use “I” when talking about your feelings.

The idea behind this is to be responsible for your own feelings. When you say “I feel….”or “I think…”, you are supposedly owning your thoughts, feelings, opinions instead of making them someone else’s responsibility.

This advice has been around since the self-help era began. Like all of these kinds of ideas, they have a lot of truth, but are presented in a woefully oversimplified manner and are often misused.

Owning your feelings using “I” has no meaning because you can wield “I”….as a weapon just as effectively as saying, “you are a…” (feel free to fill in the blank).

Consider these examples:

I think you are a Jerk! Pretty much the same poison as saying, “You are a jerk”.

Or, I think you are annoying!

I think you should just shut-up!

I think you are acting like a brat!

Confession here…the above statement has been used by me in my wild and wooly past towards my kids. They may have been acting in a way that I did not approve, but not the best way to handle the situation.

How many of you have had “I” be used as a weapon against you or have done so yourself especially during times of stress?

You may have gotten in trouble at work if you let lose like that.

Or your team’s morale may be in the tank. And you will lose good people.

You will have seen the look in your child’s eyes when spoken to in that way. And the argument just escalates into a power struggle leaving your child feeling shamed and you feeling ashamed and exhausted.

Perhaps you have had this type of exchange with your partner and the ability to truly engage and empathize with each other’s position is gone. The moment for resolution gets thrown away. The words are out there between you two, and the damage is done.

And almost just as bad, you may be feeling these things, but you don’t say anything! Because you know that if you say something, it will come out Just. Like. That.

Meantime, your insides are churning with anger and resentment of things left unsaid.

These toxic beliefs–I say they are beliefs–because it is not the feelings that are toxic, but the beliefs around these feelings that can be, and they can make you ill.

Because anger, frustration, hurt, sadness, disappointment…all are normal and important signals that something has to change.

However, if left unsaid–can become like food rotting–poisonous as well.

So, in the heat of the moment, most of us will go back to what we know and what we have learned.

Looking at your triggers, your beliefs in order to truly own your feelings needs to be an ongoing process. so that when an intense situation hits, you can step back and speak with intention—not out of reaction.

Otherwise, you will continue to own up to believing that everyone else is wrong.

Sharon Burris-Brown is a holistic health coach who specializes in helping working parents carve out time for the people and pursuits they love. If you would like to schedule a FREE strategy call to get clear on the best next step for you, click here. If you have not joined my FREE Facebook group: Stress Release for Working Parents, click here. 

How Time Management Strategies May Fail You

 Heather Zabriskie from Unsplash.com

So many people I work with ask me: how do I stuff all of the tasks I have to do in the time I have in a day?
If this feels like you, you are staggering from the weight of all that you believe you need to get done.
You feel all these tasks are on you so you don’t ask for help, to delegate or to simply say “no” so you take on more than you can possibly do.
The personal cost is the lack of time with your family or quality time.
When you find yourself on your phone during kids’ performances or sporting events instead of watching them.
When you tell your kids that you don’t have time to play a game because you are playing catch up.
When you see your kids during breakfast, then briefly at dinner and at bedtime because you need to shut yourself into your home office and work. Or you are running around throwing in a load of laundry, cleaning, running errands at the end of your day when what you really want is to go for a walk with your family after dinner.
And when you find that you are snapping at your kids and you know it is because YOU can’t stand one more demand placed on you.
Most people look for something outside of themselves to solve this problem: such as apps or planners etc..to help them get organized. And I can attest there are many.
But I am guessing that most of you are busy professionals who have systems in place to help you handle the staggering amounts of tasks on your plate. You have shared calendars, and programs that connect apps to automate your tasks. You have online to do lists to help you prioritize your tasks and spreadsheet programs. You may have goal setting apps.
Or you may be trying to multi-task so you can be more efficient-or to schedule blocks of time in your week to get things done. These are common strategies people use to try to help them manage their time.
Do you really believe that you are not trying all of the time management tips to help you juggle?
These are tools and strategies that definitely can help make your life easier, but in my experience as a coach, there are often deeper blocks that keep us from making use of these tools effectively. For those of you who have used these, how have they helped in the long run?
The fact is: if you don’t look at and shift your beliefs and your values and get to know the emotions that are driving your decisions, all the time management tips in the world will not help you.
But when you get to the root of this and can make these shifts, you will be able to:
Understand when someone’s demands are true needs and when they are wishes and be able to respond accordingly.
Have control over your time and your schedule because you will no longer be afraid to establish your own boundaries for fear of displeasing others.
You will be able to simply say “no”
And you will be able to communicate your boundaries without apology, calmly and respectfully. Notice that I used the words, “communicate YOUR boundaries”. When I talk about this, the only boundaries you need to set are ones that are yours-ones that are in alignment with your values: what you will or will not allow.
You will allow others to step up and to enable them to take responsibility. Parents and those of you who manage others, I am talking to you.
You will be able to let go of things not being done exactly the way you would want them: such as a spotless house or laundry done when others want it done. But they will get done-perhaps by someone else or by you. But, the pursuit for quality time for your family and your own self-care will take precedence over a spotless home…or not. The point is…you will be making the decisions out of intention-not from a place of fear.
And because you will be making decisions with intention and not from a place of worry and fear, you will be able to let go of all the guilt and shame about not getting it all done
If you are using time management tools and strategies and you still feel overwhelmed, this post is for you.
Please feel free to comment below and let me know what time management strategies you use and if they are helpful to you.  
If you would like to learn how you can do your life differently, feel free to grab a spot on my schedule by clicking on the scheduling button for a free initial strategy phone call to see how I can help you.

Frozen: It’s Not Just a Movie

 Photo by: Steve Johnson from Unsplash.com

I was frozen for a long time.

Before I decided to create my own business, there were so many rationalizations: the money, security, the marketing.

But underneath, it was about fear.

I kept thinking I needed to know more–to offer the most value. I needed to get more certifications or take more workshops. I had to have everything in place, it had to be the right time to jump in.

Being frozen is not just about being out in the cold too long. It is about leaving yourself out in the cold.

From the action where others are and where you are desperate to be. It is that awful stuck place:  looking from the outside with your nose pressed up against the window—longing to be a part of things.

And it is the loneliness: placing a boundary around yourself and not letting people in, because you believe you have to do it all yourself.

It shows up in never completing projects or taking way longer than needed and leaving opportunities and time for yourself and your family on the table.

It may come out as a belief that you never know enough, will never get it right and so it is easier to stand still than to just get out there and let the chips fall where they may.

Being frozen is about perfectionism. And ultimately, perfectionism is about fear. And fear is a crisis of faith…faith and trust in yourself.

So, I am guessing that if you are a perfectionist you know who you are.

I get it. You want to get it “right”.  You don’t want to have to do it over later. You don’t trust that others will do as good a job as you.

And you want to think very, very carefully about your next step because it might be the wrong one.

I have worked with clients who disliked what they were doing, but were frozen in place, because they believed that the next job had to be the last one. The next career had to be the thing they were going to be doing until they retired. And these were young adults in their early 30’s.

Many will have changed jobs several times and possibly shifted careers more than once from the time they are 30 until they retire.

But while you are trying to get things just, right, the world keeps turning.

And when you wait because you are afraid—you don’t give yourself the opportunity to get it right, because you don’t get it done.  An undone project is one from which you don’t have the opportunity to learn.

Furthermore, you don’t give people the pleasure of the opportunity to help you. Believe it or not, people like to help.

If you were in the position to help someone else, wouldn’t that feel good? Wouldn’t you say, “yes” if you could?

Everyone has to make decisions on whether they stay at a job or work for themselves, how they parent, what tasks they have to complete and what others can help them with. We all have many demands on our time.

But ask yourself, am I making these decisions out of fear or is this where I need to be or what I need to be doing right now? And does this task really need to be “perfect”?

However, taking inventory to gain insight requires that you slow down enough to notice from what place you are making decisions. Is it from intention or from fear?

Do you want your fear of making a mistake be the decision-maker?

How does perfectionism show up in your life?

Sharon Burris-Brown is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and a Licensed Social Worker. She has helped hundreds of people carve out time for the people and the pursuits they love. If you would like a free strategy call, click: here. If you would like to join her free Facebook Group: Stress Release for Working Parents click: here.

Mindful Parent/Mindful Leader

Leading a group of adults can feel a lot like being a parent…more often than you might like.

The other day, my 13 year old son who likes to sleep in asked me to take him to school so he could sleep 20 minutes later.  Now we pay for a bus because his school is across the river in the adjoining city. On good days, it is a good 20 minute commute.  On bad ones like that day because it was snowing, I knew that giving him a ride could take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours out of my day.

I weighed the effect on my stress level against his wish to get 20 minutes more of sleep.  I had him take the bus.  He was not pleased.

You can compare this situation to dozens of different situations at work.  Competing demands and priorities at work and at home.  Leadership and supervisees who make it seem like their wishes are needs and they need to be met NOW or even better—yesterday.

If I had taken my son to school that day, I would have felt resentful and angry at him.  It is very easy to place the blame outward when one doesn’t take care of oneself.  Ever heard of martyrdom?

I get that it is often not easy to figure out what is most important in any given situation especially if you feel overwhelmed and different people want different things from you.

But as an adult, it is my job to be mindful enough to weigh demands and sometimes to decide that my stress level comes first.

When we give ourselves a moment to step back to get to our observer place: we can stop, notice and name our experiences.  And we can make decisions from a place of self-compassion.  When we get to that place of self-compassion, we can set boundaries with compassion.

I told my son that I would take him to school one day next week if the weather was good.  Because I remember how hard it was to have to wake up early as a teen and how good it felt not to rush to get ready for the bus.

So, give it a try.   Apply these steps: stop to observe your feelings and thoughts, then simply name them–at home or at work–before acting.  It only takes a few moments.