The catalyst for change often begins as a vague, but persistent little itch. You’ll have an awareness in the back of your lizard brain that something is just “off,” but not be able to pinpoint exactly where you need to make an adjustment. You don’t really want to scrap the whole parade of your life to go scoop llama doo at a monastery, but the life you’ve built for yourself (or allowed to develop) has lost its lustre.
If you can’t put your finger on what is “off” in your life, begin this way – notice what you notice.
Grab your Handy Dandy Notebook and jot a note to mark the moment down. Don’t worry if you can’t accurately describe your internal response. Sometimes you won’t have exact words to describe what is bothering you. This is particularly true in relationships.
Example — You’re having lunch with a friend (Sally) you’ve known for years. You’re spilling your guts about something and, before you get to the clincher, she jumps in to begin solving your problem. You get annoyed but say nothing because you don’t know why you’re having that reaction and besides, nice girls don’t get murderous rages over the Thai chicken salad at Panera.
Both of these next two responses are not helpful:
1. Rip Sally’s face off.
2. Suck it up and say (or more importantly, DO) nothing.
Instead, pull out your Handy Dandy Notebook and write this, “Got annoyed with Sally when she jumped in to solve my problem.”
You don’t have to know yet why that bothered you. But as you get a collection of these little gripes, a pattern may emerge.
Here are some possible causes for your annoyance:
■ Sally’s a controlling narcisstic witch and you need to pick better friends.
■ Sally speaks the truth and you just don’t want to hear it.
■ You’ve sent Sally off on a wild goose chase because you were really upset about something entirely different but that thing was too scary to put to truth so you misdirected both Sally and yourself talking about the easier thing.
The point is that you don’t need to know the point. You just need to collect your thoughts – literally – in writing. As you consistently record those vague but persistent “itches” that are calling to you from the back of your lizard brain, what needs scratching will begin to reveal itself to you.
Remember, mood follows action.
Photo: Flickr, Erik Loafforgue