I thought that title would pique your interest. So, I’m in the shower this afternoon (it was a work at home til 3 kind of day) and I look at the squeegee and say to myself, “I’m not going to squeegee the shower today.” Which was immediately followed by, “I squeegee the shower.” And, boom, there was my blog post topic for this week.
You might wonder what’s the big deal about squeegeeing the shower. It’s not about the task; it’s about the energy behind the structure of the sentence. I didn’t say, “I’m going to squeegee the shower because I’m the kind of person who squeegees my shower.” Nope, my crystal clear thought was “I squeegee the shower.” Me, Becky – not some kind of person.
Maybe you’re like me. I struggle with what I eat, and exercising, and working on my business (as opposed to working in my business – coaching people – which is extremely fun). I’ve done diets, schedules, and productivity systems. I’ve even hired coaches. And they rarely ever work.
Jedi Mind Trick
I’m thinking they didn’t work because the words I use let me hold the work I’m doing at arm’s length: “I’m the kind of person who diets. I’m the kind of person who exercises.” Heck, I’ve even prayed to be that kind of person. I think God laughed at me.
But I’ve never said “I eat well. I exercise every day. I work on my business.” Go on, try it, say it out loud. Pick that thing that you want to do and say “I’m the kind of person who does that thing.” Now say, “I do that thing.” Can you feel the difference? Pretty amazing, right? Hmmmm. It must be some Jedi mind trick because it sure feels like magic to me.
I spend a lot of time thinking up strategies to help my clients over obstacles in their paths. We talk about using “I” messages to show that we own our struggles, strengths, and wins. I ask, “Are you the kind of person who …?” all the time. Perhaps I’ll keep asking the question and let it lead to a discussion of the difference between “I’m the kind of person who…” and “I do this thing.”
Stay right here, right now
This also reminds me of conversations around “this is going to work” and “this is working.” I catch myself saying things like “this group is going to work” when it is working. It’s as if I can’t process the reality of what I’m doing.
Is it that I’m so busy thinking about the next thing that I’m ignoring what I’m doing right this minute? That is exactly what I’m doing. Come to think of it, I’ve been called on this more than once, usually in the form of “Becky, slow down, pay attention to what you’ve already done and what you’re doing right now.”
That is so hard for me to do. However, I’ve found that when I take the time to meditate, it’s easier to stay anchored appropriately in the present. Which is a whole nother blog post. For now, let’s just say that meditation makes it easier for me stay present in the moment (how many ways can I use present?). And, when I’m in the moment, I remember to think that “I squeegee my shower.” “I meditate.” Sometimes I think it out loud.
I’m thinking that it comes down to using words like “I do” whenever we can so our language can support us and lasso us back into the here and now. Plus “I do” keeps us from using those words that doom us to failure “I don’t….” Our brains freak out when they hear the word “no” and its cousin “not.” Those words make us oppositional because our brains are wired to want to do whatever it is that we say (or are told) not to do.
Ever noticed when you tell a child not to do something – like don’t throw that rock at Sam, they usually do it. That’s the brain doing its thing. If, instead, we tell the child to do something else, like, throw the rock on the ground, we have a much higher chance of success.
Same thing happens with adults. When we think or say “I don’t eat pizza,” our brains automatically want to eat pizza. Instead, if we switch to thinking “I eat food that’s good for me,” it makes it easier for us to turn down the pizza (or chocolate, or… you fill in the blank).
By the same token, when we say “I squeegee the shower” our brains embrace the action of actually squeegeeing the shower. There are no qualifiers, just the bald statement that “I squeegee the shower.”
So, the next time you’re ready to make a change but something’s holding you back, try my Jedi mind trick. Go squeegee the shower.