Have you ever noticed that once you notice something, you can’t “un-notice” it? It’s like when you notice a splinter in your finger but don’t have the means to get it out. You may try to put it out of your mind, but you can’t stop picking at it. You know it’s THERE and you become fixated on it.
Sometimes we’re not ready for the truth. We tell ourselves everything’s fine or that we’re doing the “right thing,” but our bodies don’t lie: the stress shows up in our muscles, our digestion, our shallow breathing. And when we finally face the truth we’ve been avoiding, admit to ourselves that something isn’t right, that’s the point at which you can’t un-notice.
Perhaps this is why we like the state of pretending like it’s all okay. Because if we truly admitted to ourselves that something wasn’t right, then we’d have to DO SOMETHING about it. So we hang out in the “I’m fine,” self-medicate and pamper ourselves with massages, mani/pedi’s and decadent foods to distract us and try to make up for the splinter that we are avoiding. But then the splinter gets worse. It gets infected and more painful than before.
I once heard Oprah talking about how God whispers to us. First it’s a gentle whisper, or a tap on the shoulder. If you don’t pay attention, the next one might be a shake of your arm. If you keep ignoring the message, you get hit upside the head with a brick.
In my personal journey (and by personal, I mean both my personal & professional life), I’ve learned how to listen to those whispers and gentle taps. It’s MUCH easier to deal with those than the brick. But it’s been a long journey: I was so deaf and numb to those messages for so long, trying to convince myself that what I had (or what I was doing) was what I wanted, or rather what I should want.
One of my coach colleagues loves to say, “Stop shoulding on yourself.”
If you’ve got a splinter in your life, here’s three steps to making it better:
- Acknowledge it. Admit that there’s something wrong. This doesn’t mean it will always be wrong, or that you’re a failure for thinking so. It also doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. But how can you fix it if you don’t first acknowledge it?
- Imagine what you do want. Even if you don’t know the particulars, think about how you want to feel. Recognize and believe that you can have what you want.
- Each day, take one small step closer to what you want. And by small, I mean SMALL. Martha Beck calls these Turtle Steps. A step so small it seems impossibly easy to accomplish and it also doesn’t in the slightest overwhelm you.
Turtle steps can include researching your options, asking for help, following your “feel good.” If you need some assistance, drop me an email or leave a comment below. I absolutely love helping people get on track to their right and best lives.