Do you ever overcommit or have unrealistic expectations of yourself and others? Or do you tend to avoid committing to anything? I do both, although I think I tend more on the overcommitment . Last week's blog 'Making Realistic Commitments and Keeping Them'. explored the importance of making realistic commitments and once made doing our best to keep them. I have found it useful to understand what is underneath my tendency to overcommit and to have unrealistic expectations of myself and others and also why I find it difficult to commit at other times. Over the next few blogs I will explore this further.
As I said last week my tendency is to overcommit and take on way too much instead of doing a stock take first and setting more realistic expectations of myself and others too. I have found it useful, although tricky, to ask myself why I overcommit and many times end up feeling busy, exasperated and at times resentful. If I am honest with myself I think I have a few unhelpful, previously unconscious, reasons why I do this. Shining the light on these unhelpful beliefs allows me to work kindly with myself and others in developing more helpful ways to think and be.
One of these unhelpful beliefs I have found it useful to shine the light on is.........
The 'Cult of Busyness'. Is busyness something of importance and value?
I have recently started to question the somewhat wacky belief that I have had, (and that our culture seems to support), that being busy somehow makes us important and valued. As if being busy was somehow a badge of honour. I started noticing how others also seem effected. I was surprised by how many times I and others responded to "How are you?" with "Busy" as if it was something to be proud of. Was it such a good thing to be? Well no, I think being caught up with how important and busy I was making me stressed and unavailable for others.
Busyness as a state of mind
It is interesting to notice some people can be in a busy flap with seemingly little to do; while others can have lots on and have a calm relaxed manner. The difference is what is going on in their heads. How could I remain active and do what needed to be done without that feeling of stress, overwhelm and busyness?
Some things I have found useful to remember are
You might want to
Have you ever felt like giving up on a commitment you have made? I did last week. I have made a commitment to myself (and to others too) to keep up these weekly blogs and to get POM and the Worry to Wonder programme up and running. All of a sudden I was filled with doubt and thought "it's all too hard I think I will give up and crawl back under my rock".
Several things popped up to remind me that was not by best option. The first was a dear friend who rang to share some family news. She kindly reminded me of my commitment to share what had helped me. The second was that lousy feeling I had of letting myself and others down. I have had some lovely support, help and encouragement from others and to get things going and to keep going. I was forgetting about my commitment and intention to do my best to share and then let go of expectation and approval. Maybe a reread of Hiding under a Rock - Confessions of a Terrified Teacher and Taper might help me.
That lousy feeling of not following through on commitments is a familiar one. I have certainly said many times "lets catch up" without really intending to. I have also overcommitted and then not been able to do what I said I would or ran myself and others into the ground trying. Like the times I committed to make jam, sausage rolls, cakes, piñatas, and goodness knows what else for the school fete, with three young children and baby. At times I have made it difficult for others too by overloading them too or equally unhelpfully not sharing the load. When I have unrealistic expectations of myself I run myself ragged trying to do the impossible job of pleasing everyone. I end up exhausted, exasperated and resentful and often unconsciously put these unrealistically expectations on others. I am sorry to all those I whipped into a working bee or any other frenzy including baby Alice who ended up all sticky from jam making.
When I hear myself make a commitment I don't intend to keep or is impossible to keep I hear myself speaking rubbish. This causes me to feel like rubbish when I don't follow through. It is not useful to revisit these times in order to bash myself up but rather to think about how I could do things a little more wisely. I was doing my best with what I knew at the time. I know a little more now so I will do my best to do a 'better best' now.
Some things that have helped me keep my commitment to myself and others include
Do a stock take
When someone asks me to do something instead of instantly saying yes, which is certainly my tendency, I try to remember to say "I would love to, I just need to have a think about it and get back to you". This gives me the time to do a little stock take, to see if I have the resources (time, money, skills or materials) to be able to do do it. Having made the commitment to get back to them, I do and I give them my considered appropriate, realistic response.
Doing this stock take avoids
- overcommitment and not following through
- overcommitment and running myself ragged and resentful
- having unrealistic expectations of myself and others
Understanding and forgiveness when the unavoidable happens
We all have times when we have committed to do something and an unavoidable incident occurs. Despite our best efforts we are unable to keep our commitment. Like when our car breaks down, we're sick or our bike gets stolen mid delivery. Interestingly I have had two times this week when I had planned to meet friends and this hasn't happened. That can and does happen. Instead of blame, judgment and holding a grudge against ourselves or others it is more helpful to show honesty, respect, understanding and forgiveness of others and ourselves. It may also be useful to remember The difference between guilt and regret.
Avoid making false promises
I try to be aware of making comments like "lets catch up for a coffee" if I don't have an intention or plan to do so. If I do suggest it I do my best to make a time and follow through.
Having made the commitment to myself and others to keep doing these weekly blogs and to get POM and the Worry to Wonder programme up and running here I am back this week with renewed enthusiasm. You can look forward to a much improved and less confusing website to be launched on April 1st. This is not an April Fools joke, I have done my stock take and I do certainly plan to keep this commitment.
You might want to
In last week’s blog ‘Creating a Great First Impression: Eye Contact, how to make it.’ we explored some tips to help with connecting with others in social situations. Here are some more in this week’s blog.
Conversations are a 2-way sharing
A conversation is a two-way sharing and involves give and take. It has taken me some time to get the whole give and take thing. I am quite good at giving to others whether it is material things, my time or attention or a listening ear. But I am not so good at receiving or giving others the opportunity to give to me. I think this is because I sometimes don’t feel worthy of the gift or that I want to be in control and a giving hog. How does this attitude help anyone? It doesn’t – it is selfish and denies others the pleasure in giving. We all know how good it feels to be able to give a gift, our time to help or to listen to someone. When we don’t allow others the opportunity to do this it is all about us and we are denying them this beautiful giving opportunity. I have done this when someone has kindly given me something and I have said unhelpful things like
Wow this just happened and I did not do so well. A friend just offered to drive me to a meeting. Without thinking I dismissed their kind offer and said, “No thanks, I can walk”. I saw the look of disappointment on their face, which alerted me to what I had just done, whoops. I then said “thank you so much, that would be great.” They looked happy and I had learnt a great lesson. When I got to the meeting a friend kindly offered to buy my coffee. A little more tuned in this time I responded “thanks so much that would be lovely”. I am still learning about how it is not helpful to deny others the opportunity to help and give to me! So happy to be sharing these blogs, it is such a great reminder for me. Thank you all.
This attitude of not allowing others to give to us is never helpful. In social situations while I understand that it is good to get my self-interest out of the way (and not go on and on about me) to be of benefit others, I can take it too far. When I tell myself I don’t matter and I need to make it all about the other person I am forgetting two things
Creating a Great First Impression
Tip 3. Be Curious, without judgment
We are all different and have many unique, interesting and sometimes unusual passions and talents. Often we do not get the opportunity to share these with others because no one ever asks about them. It is fun to share what lights us up with others and have them share with us too.
We miss many great opportunities to get to know people because we slap a label on them and don’t give them or ourselves the opportunity to share our passions. When we are curious about others, without judgment or criticism they feel safe to share their passions with us and we can share what brings us joy with them too.
I have found out some really interesting things I never knew about friends, both new and old, by doing this. Friends that love Latin dancing, mosaic, growing vegies, chooks, the Seekers, motor bike riding with their sons, the share market, knitting, bagpipes and writing. They might not be my ‘thing’, but it is great to share what lights them up and for me to share too. When we bring a non-judgmental, curiosity to our interactions with others we allow all to feel safe to share (remember it is a two 2 way give and take). Others have learnt some interesting things about me too, when I share and give them the opportunity to be curious non-judgmental listeners!
What fun we can have connecting to others. Who knows whom we will meet and what interesting things we will discover about them and ourselves too.
You might want to
In last week’s blog ‘Creating a Great First Impression: Getting Past, How are you? we explored some tips to help with connecting with others in social situations. Here, in this week's blog are some more things you may want to consider.
The Changing nature of our relationships
It is so easy and tempting to slap a label on someone we meet and write them off without a chance. We often sum them up in the first few seconds, even before they have uttered a word. A psychologist friend told me in my first job 30 years ago that when we ASSUME it makes an ass of you and me. So true, how often I have foolishly labeled potential friend, uninteresting person or foe and made an ass of me and them.
However when we think about it our relationships with others are continually changing. Some of our friends today were once neutral people we did not know well or maybe even our enemies previously. Someone I admire greatly who is now a good friend was once someone I had little time for. Given this changing nature of our relationships it is helpful to try to treat all people we meet equally and to do our best to be friendly and have a non-judgmental curiosity rather than judging, labeling and assuming. As we explored last week we can start the process of getting to know someone by doing our best to be friendly and have that non-judgmental curiosity by revealing more than ‘good' when we are asked how we are. Another way to connect is understand how to use eye contact in a helpful way.
Creating a Great First Impression
Tip 2. Eye Contact, how to make it
We all know the importance of eye contact and how nice it is to have that contact with others. Recently I was interested to read about the ‘rules of eye contact’. I am sorry I cannot give credit to the source because I can't recall it. I have not understood how to feel comfortable with eye contact and I am thankful for this information, which has freed me up to be comfortable with this beautiful way to connect to others. The rules are
You might want to
Do you ever feel awkward in new social situations? At times I think we all do. It can be tricky meeting others for the first time. But, it doesn’t need to be. I am very grateful to those who have shared some very helpful tips to help with these situations and am going to share these over the next three blog posts.
We all have many opportunities to meet new people. In our family this year there have been many such new situations, starting university, moving to new countries, new jobs, weddings, travel, parties, funerals, everyday activities like shopping, to name a few.
Some general things I find useful to remember about the opportunities connecting with others brings are……
1. The Thirds Thingo
In a previous blog ‘Disapproval from others can I still approve of myself?’ we explored what I call the ‘thirds thingo.’ The idea that of all those people we encounter one third will like or approve of us, one third will feel neutral or won’t care either way and one third will dislike or disapprove of us. This is helpful to allow us to let go of that unrealistic expectation of having everyone we meet like and approve of us. When we understand this and can honestly say we had a kind intention we are free to let go of judgment of others and ourselves and approve of ourselves regardless of how they have responded to us.
When we have a kind intention, we can rest in that and let go of the result. We have done our best. What is a kind intention when we meet others? It is simply to be friendly and to connect and share with them without judgment. I think we would all like to be met that way. Like us all, at times I have been unable to rest in this kind intention. Because I didn’t understand the importance of my choice to be friendly, kind and non-judgmental, I have not always been able to rest in my kind intention. It may be helpful to have a look at ‘The Difference Between Guilt and Regret’ blog.
Creating a Great First Impression
Tip 1. Avoiding that awkward “How are you? Good, How are you? Good”.
Often our first question when we first meet someone is to ask, “How are you?” They usually answer with a “good or well thanks and how are you?” Sometimes this is a casual “How are you?” when we are moving on, like when we pass someone in the street. In these situations it may be appropriate to answer with a a simple "well thanks, how are you?" However it is helpful to remember to wait for a reply and allow the other person to ask you the same.
In social situations when we meet someone and are wanting to engage in conversation you might like to explore responding to that first "How are you?" a little differently and more openly. . If we respond with “good” or “well” this close response can halt the conversation and leave it with nowhere to go. It is like starting a ping-pong match and then the ball goes missing.
I came across an easy helpful tip to use when we are in a social situation and it is appropriate to progress the conversation beyond “How are you?” Instead of saying, “good, well, sick or tired” you might want to give a little more information to allow the conversation to open up. You might want to put the feeling in context so you can share something about yourself to make a connection and allow the other person to do the same. Some examples might be
Get the idea? I am sure you do. A couple of things I like to remember are
Have fun giving this a go. You may find out all sorts of interesting information about those you know well and those you don’t know so well.
You might want to