Deferred Maintenance

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

I was at a friend’s crib recently and he asked me to help him fix something. (And yes, the slang version of ‘crib’ has been one of my favorite words for like fifteen years now.) I’m not the handiest tool in the shed, but all I had to do was hand him some things while he was on a ladder, so we were in business. I don’t even really know what he did, but it only took about fifteen minutes. It involved drilling some holes and then screwing some air vent-looking things into the ceiling. He was covering a fairly large rectangular “hole” in the ceiling. After he was done, he was really, really happy. Elated. He said he had been putting this off for months, and it would’ve been even easier and less expensive had he dealt with it when the problem first started (there must’ve been some effort and expense involving that hole in the ceiling in the months before). Anyway, he said it’s always best to suck it up and deal with these things right away, because a $300 job will inevitably turn into a $600 job if you wait and let it linger. Deferred maintenance.

So why are we talking about drilling holes into dry wall and installing air vent-looking things? Because of the concept of deferred maintenance. The first thing that popped into my head when he said that involves the kind of work we do here at A Clean Mind. We do inner work that makes our lives more peaceful and less dramatic, even with the same exact life stressors firmly in place. We change how we see things. We learn how to let feelings pass through us, staying as long as they need to but no more than that. We learn to respond instead of react. And what my friend said about waiting to fix something wrong with his house totally applies to our drama. Generally speaking, the longer we wait, the worse it gets. At the very least, we’re stressed out during the wait. It could even just be a faint background stress, but trust me, it’s there. And the longer it’s there, the more power it has to mess with your peace. I have plenty of clients with gastrointestinal issues because nobody taught them how to release when they were younger.

So if you have situations in your life you’ve been meaning to deal with, there’s no time like the present. The fastest way out is through, so you might as well get started. Will it be fun? Probably not. Will it be less painful than later, though? Most likely. So do it. Take the first step in dealing with these issues. It might not be your idea of a good time, but $300 now beats $600 later. For most people, anyway.

The types of things I’m talking about dealing with are basically anything that bothers you in your life now. Relationships are probably the biggest. We all have unresolved issues with other humans, big or small (big or small issues, that is, not humans, although they come in big and small sizes as well). I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to deal with these, go through the pain, and get to the other side. Now it’s not on your list of “things that bother me about my life.” You dealt with it. You crossed it off the list. Awesome! Keep doing that.

Also, the issue might not get resolved how you want it to or how you imagine it will. That’s fine – ditch the picture in your head about what the perfect world looks like. You’re just being authentic and telling someone there’s something you aren’t at peace with. You don’t attack. You’re totally calm. And they can sense this. They see that you’re being real. Sometimes they’ll laugh and say there was never a problem – it was in your head. They’ll respect your authenticity, though, as well as your intent for peace. They’ll respect what they saw from you. And if there really is a legitimate problem, they’ll respect that you’re straightforward and honest and that you really do want to resolve it. These conversations aren’t always fun, but everybody generally feels better on the other side of them.

You can also work on other cases of deferred maintenance that don’t involve relationships. Relationships are the biggies for most of us, though. Other things we might want to address include our job, where we live, finally going to the dentist, our hobbies, exercise, diet, finances, etc. Anything. Just remember, though, that inner peace is always what we’re after. This is because outer peace doesn’t exist – not for very long, anyway. I like shiny new things, too, but the shine always wears off. And that’s fine – that’s reality. So don’t depend on these things changing in order for you to be happy. We just have to do what we have to do to be at peace with these situations. Just get started. Make the first step. Or don’t! That’s fine, too. It might costs more later, though…

Tool: The Wise Old You

Posted Posted in Tools & Techniques

I’ve said many times here that I’m always looking for tools and techniques, specific things that help us snap out of the stress of the moment and see things with more clarity. A great one is to picture a wise, old you in the future, long past whatever situation is currently happening. As I tell my clients, “Picture yourself as a wise old man or woman, sitting in a rocking chair outside on the porch on a beautiful day. You’re watching the birds, reading, or chatting with a friend or family member. You’re totally relaxed and stress-free.” I must admit that this tool is designed more for people who don’t already fit that description. Please don’t sue me for age discrimination.

Now let’s ask some questions of that wise, old person. How would s/he view this current situation? Probably as being not as big a deal as it seems to be now. It could even be something huge and life-altering, but the emotional charge and mental frenzy would be long, long gone. The next question is how will the wise, old you view how you handled it? Probably with acceptance, whether or not you handled it very well. This is because the wise, old you knows that life is all about learning from tough situations. And even if you didn’t do so well, the wise old you knows that everybody isn’t perfect and we all make mistakes. That’s how we grow. And the cool thing is that the simple act of referring to your future self might help you handle a tough situation better than you otherwise would have, because you want that person to be proud of how you did.

This tool, like the others here at A Clean Mind, is designed to be used when things are going south. In the heat of the moment, take a breath and picture that peaceful person. That’s you in the future, no matter how this situation unfolds. Unless you die, I guess. Hey, a little gallows humor never killed anyone… Seriously, though, this tool can be really powerful. It’s helped lots of my clients, and I just realized that I hadn’t written about it here yet. No tool is perfect, so we will still have our ups and downs. All of these tools, though, are designed to help minimize the downs. Tough situations will always happen – it’s how we handle them. All of these tools can really help us handle them better than we otherwise would have. And I’m sure that the wise, old you would agree.

The Thinker

Posted Posted in Personality Patterns

A friend recently asked me to write about people who think too much. This is because she thinks too much. I said that’s funny timing, because “The Thinker” is already on the list. Two other friends had recently described themselves as “thinkers,” as in they know that they think too much as well. I said you know what? So do I! This is another pattern that many people fall into, especially in this fast-paced digital age. I’ve written about The Control Freak and The Perfectionist before. Just like those, The Thinker is nothing more than a personality pattern or set of patterns. As I said in a recent blog post on personality patterns, no matter how deeply ingrained they are or seem to be, they are not who you are. That is a fact. So we can accept them and look at them honestly, but it doesn’t have to be so heavy and personal. Look at it like you’re looking at a character in a movie, book, or play. I’m totally serious. I know that might sound weird, but I’m pretty sure it’s more accurate. And it makes it much easier to own the pattern and then bust yourself in the moment and let it go.

The Thinker is all about living in your head. And what’s wrong with that? Your head is not reality. So it’s just a minor problem… And when we’re constantly thinking, we’re not feeling. And when we’re not feeling (and thus releasing), all of the stresses and emotions from the day just build up until you’re full of baggage and feel terrible. And when you feel bad, what does your mind do? Think about what a problem it is that you feel bad. And what does that do? It makes you feel worse. And then the mind comments on that, and so forth and so on. It’s basically a feedback loop that spirals out of control. And you have the option of nipping it in the bud as soon as it starts. All it takes is learning what’s really going on and then practicing.

Another thing about too much thinking is that it’s usually time-based, meaning that you’re spending most of your time in the past or in the future. There is no past or future, though, so do we really want to spend our time there?? Obviously, the future isn’t here yet, and it’s always “not here yet.” The past is trickier for most people, but if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s not real, either. There’s a full blog post on the past. The main thing is that the past lives now in the feelings you’re carrying and your thoughts about what happened, including memories (which get hazier and hazier with time) and beliefs (most of which are not true, which is great news). And of course there are physical signs of the past, but these live now. The scar on my leg from that accident last summer is on my leg now. There’s still no past, though.

So what’s the big deal with living in our heads, living in the past and future, constantly thinking? It makes most people feel terrible! Some say that we tend to be depressed about the past and anxious about the future. Chill out. Take a breath. Deal with the past in terms of what you can do about it. Own your mistakes and do your best to learn from them. Make amends if necessary. Make a phone call or send an email. And if something happened in the past that affects your life now, even in a major way, then you have to live with it and deal with it… now. That handles the past.

Do the same with the future. What can you actually do about whatever you’re worrying about? Then do it. Can you control what you’re worrying about? If not, then let it go. Do what you can do and release the rest. Worrying a bunch generally doesn’t help. Don’t interpret this as saying you should be lazy or passive. Far from it, actually. You can be very, very active, but without that stressed-out attitude. It’s all about the ‘tude.

So The Thinker’s job is to get out of his or her head and into reality, which is what’s happening now. This ties in closely with the voice in the head. When you catch yourself lost in useless thought, just gently stop. Let the thoughts go and just like that, there’s silence in your head. Maybe listen to the sounds around you. It really is that simple – you just got out of your head. The thoughts will come back, but who cares? Now you know what to do – just let them go once again. It can get annoying, but don’t waste your time resisting the thoughts. I’ve done this plenty, and it just feeds them. The good news is that as you practice this stopping and letting go, the volume slowly gets turned down. After a while, this excessive thinking simply won’t be such a big deal. You’ll know that you are the one who gives the thoughts their power. Without this power, they’re just thoughts. No big deal.

Well, good luck getting out of your head! Just keep taking those little breaks when you catch yourself living up there, and you just got out, just like that. That’s how it works, and it only takes an instant. The over-thinking comes back, so you just stop again. As we like to say here a lot, wash, rinse, repeat. After a while, you’ll see that you’re headed in the right direction. And as always, let me know if I can help!