Emotions Archives

With some projects, we don’t show the world our rough drafts, our struggles, and our weaknesses as we create. We polish them up before we let the world see them. I do that with most of my art, writing, and dancing. But there are times to let the rough drafts show, and doing that can build confidence.

One example in my life is the water retention basin we dug in our front yard. It’s a big ugly hole 2 feet deep with 2 trees planted in it. We are landscaping a little at time as we have time. We wanted to plant the trees first because we knew it would take time for them to grow tall enough to give us the privacy we wanted. We put the water retention basin in because we’re creating an environmental-friendly landscape to match our environmentally-friendly house.

After we dug the basin and planted the trees, our next priority was to plant shade plants on the east and west sides of our house. We live in Albuquerque and don’t have an air conditioner nor a swamp cooler, so shading the house in the summer is essential. We decided to postpone beautifying the retention basin until after we planted the shading trees and bushes.

This retention basin has sat looking ugly in our front yard for months. I’ve had neighbors ask me why we would put such a hideous hole in our front yard. We’re not breaking any rules of the neighborhood, and we do plan on making it pretty. But we’ll be doing that in our own timeline.

People’s mean criticism has been like barbs jabbed into my heart. I felt insecure. It’s scary to publicly expose a non-polished project like this.

When I’d feel one of those barbs, I’d take care of myself. I’d visit the Albuquerque Museum of Natural History to see their beautiful finished retention basin and remind myself that I’m not crazy. I’d get emotional support from my husband. The barbed wounds would heal, and I’d be more confident that I could expose my rough draft and still feel good about my ideas.

I have a better understanding of what  Noah went through when building his ark. And I really appreciate that we’ve kept that story alive. It gives me strength to think about it.

Have you ventured out with your own “Noah’s Ark” project? It’s definitely great character-building!

Where’d That Reluctance Come From?

Have you ever made a decision to do something you were really excited about and just before you were going to do it, you suddenly didn’t want to do it at all? Looking back at some of my best decisions, I’ve noticed that pattern.

I grew up in the Chicago area which wasn’t the best fit for me. At 30, I got introduced to the Southwest and made a decision to move. I had seen lots of people move out west then end up moving back because things didn’t work out. I didn’t want that to happen to me.

One of the problems that caused people to move back was finances. So I changed careers and became a computer programmer. I figured there were computer programming jobs every where so I would have job security no matter where I lived.

Then, I needed to finish a long, drawn-out divorce. Then, I wanted to save money. It was 9 years before I was ready to move.

The funny thing was that when it came time to actually move, I suddenly didn’t want to. I would be moving by myself and leaving my friends and family. Chicago no longer seemed like such a bad place. My whole being didn’t want to make the move.

dread

Fortunately, I had had a similar experience when I moved to London in my mid-20’s. I felt really good about the decision to go. I had everything I needed—a job, a place to live, people I knew there. But right before I moved, I had heard about hardships that people had had who had done a similar move. I felt nauseous for days thinking about it and seriously considered canceling. But instead, I decided to go even though I was feeling a huge amount of dread and reluctance. I based my decision on how I felt when I originally decided to move.

It turned out that the problems I feared would happen in London actually did. But it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Living in England made a significant impact in my outlook on life. I treasure the time I had there.

I made the same type of decision when moving from Chicago to Albuquerque. Even though I felt dread and reluctance, I went forward with my move based on how I felt during those 9 years of dreaming and planning. Moving to Albuquerque was another one of my best decisions. I totally love it here, and it felt like home almost immediately.

Thrilled

So whenever I see that same pattern of getting excited about something and then becoming reluctant right before doing it, I push through the reluctance and end up being thrilled on the other side.

If I had never pushed through the reluctance and, instead, backed out of decisions because of those feelings, I would have been trapped in a never-ending cycle of coming up with great ideas, but never achieving them.

Don’t Let Your Mistakes Hold You Back

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes, whether you’re a parent, a surgeon, or whatever it is you do in life.

Recently, I got involved with a program to trap feral cats, bring them to the Humane Society to be fixed, checked-over, and vaccinated. They are then released back to where they were trapped.

I set a trap in our backyard. The cat I caught appeared to be one the neighbor kids had tamed enough to handle. They considered it their pet. The woman from the feral cat program took the caged feline to the clinic. After the procedure, on her way out, the carrier fell apart and the cat ran away. That was 7 miles away from where we had trapped the cat.

I was crushed. In my mind, I could still see the little neighbor girl hugging that cat. I had played a part in losing her beloved pet.

This got me thinking. As our positive impact on other people’s lives increases, so does the impact of our mistakes. I think that’s why many of us fear stepping up. Think of a surgeon who’s unintended mistake disfigures someone for life.

Does this mean we should avoid taking on work that has bigger impact in our world. Absolutely not. But if you’ve been avoiding going to the next level in your work, this may be a factor. Many people feel much more comfortable letting others take the risks. It’s easier to sit back and envision how much better you would have done than the person who actually took the risk.

To go grow in our work, we may need to learn to deal with mistakes in healthier ways. We’ll want to face our mistakes and process them. Realizing that we need to mourn what happened, come to terms with the fact that we’re human and make mistakes, and learn to relate with others concerning our mistakes, especially those who are impacted by them. And, of course, we’ll want to learn from our mistakes.

As we become more comfortable with dealing with mistakes, we will no longer be held back by fearing them.

I could quit the feral cat program all together. Or I could continue to be involved and process my emotions about the incident—forgiving myself, allowing myself to mourn, and preparing myself to talk with the little girl if the lost cat is indeed the one she had adopted as her friend. And here’s what I learned. I no longer plan to put a trap in my backyard where there’s a higher risk of catching someone’s pet. Instead, we will place the traps near dumpsters where many feral cats hang out for food.

How do you feel about your mistakes? Is your attitude towards them limiting you from taking part in your world to your fullest?



Image Credit: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are You Denying Yourself that Sweet Anticipation?

Do you remember, as a kid, anticipating Christmas or summer break? It was so fun to look forward with delight. Do you still enjoy that type of excitement? Do you allow yourself to anticipate something good in your future?

Over the years, I’ve noticed that I’ve let go of the pleasure of anticipation. I’m usually so busy getting ready for a vacation that I don’t enjoy it until I’m there, and sometimes not even until I’ve been there a day or two.

I’ve also noticed that I resist looking forward to many things because I don’t want to risk disappointment. If I go in with no expectations, then I’m a lot less likely to be disappointed.

But now I’m wondering if I’m doing myself a disservice by not allowing myself that sweet anticipation. The key is to anticipate without being attached to an outcome. It’s to excitedly look forward while staying open to the wonders of the life, knowing that things can turn out very differently than we expect, and that’s totally OK.

I do this when I’m on vacation. If an obstacle to our plan appears, I get excited because I believe something better is about to happen.

On one vacation, we were headed east from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. While we ate lunch at an In-N-Out Burger, we learned that the direct route we were going to take to Tahoe was closed because of fires. So we decided to head north and circle around. We ended up enjoying a beautiful stay in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and then headed over to Lake Tahoe.

If that fire hadn’t happened, we never would have thought to explore the Sierra Nevada mountains. Because of the obstacle, our vacation became even richer.

So my suggest is to let yourself get excited about something in your future and see how much fun it can be. I’m doing that now with the upcoming iPhone.



Photo credit: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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