“It changes things. That knowledge. Doesn’t it?” – Jason Bourne
Admit it: you get frustrated easily.
You don’t have enough patience.
You think that your kids are going to grow up to be serial killers and it’s all your fault.
That’s what I have been thinking for years. I have little patience for my children and it seems to get thinner with each passing day.
The more they figure out which of my buttons to push, the more I look for malicious intent. I’m at the point where I only see the bad. It’s spiraling out of control.
Am I the only one? Am I a bad person?
Like me, maybe you’re searching for the bad in someone. You’re looking so hard that you can taste it. You WANT to see it, but it’s hard to see clearly when your lenses are focused on the wrong thing.
You’re going to find it, good or bad.
Have you ever said to yourself: “I suck at this — I can’t do it!” Maybe you were practicing the piano or doing math homework, or writing a resume.
Of course you can’t do it. You’ve already established that it’s no use — so you’re not going to try as hard.
Making the bad happen is pretty easy when it also makes you right.
How would it be different if you said “I’m great at this?” If someone told you that you always find the positive in things? That you are always so mellow? That you never react when someone tries to get a rise out of you? That you can put your nose to the grindstone when it’s time to learn something new?
I’m not talking about Stewart Smalley, touchy-feely kind of stuff. I’m talking about labels. What you’re known for.
Imagine people saying “it’s so easy for him to skip desert!” or, “She has the patience of a saint!” Wouldn’t it be more likely that you would become that person?
I bet you’d wear that label as a badge-of-honor!
Labels don’t have to be bad.
What would be so hard about making that your brand? Wouldn’t telling yourself that it’s your “MO” (modus operandi/brand) make it an expected response? Wouldn’t you take pride, then, in that expectation?
If I find myself stressed out at work, I’ll ask myself “why am I always so easy going?” By asking the question, my brain automatically begins searching for an answer — reasons that it’s true.
The things that it might come up with, subconsciously, would be “because you carry yourself in a very relaxed manner,” or “because you always pause before responding,” or “because everyone sees you that way.”
Make it true.
The more support you can provide, the more real it becomes.
We’re talking about the support your brain needs to answer the question. You begin looking for those things to happen. You are aware of them and reinforcing them at every opportunity. You take pride in being that person.
It’s like when you buy a new car — your favorite style and color. It makes you feel great to own… proud.
But you start to notice one on every block. Did everyone have the same idea as you, or are you just looking for them, now?
When my teenage son starts to give me attitude, I do the same thing. I assume he has an evil plan, so that’s what I see.
I need to look for something else.
I might ask myself “Why don’t I react when he tries to pick a fight?” or, “Why do I just let it go when he discovers that I was right but acts like I’m not?”
I might wonder why I always think he’s ticked at me when he is probably just focused on something or someone else. The especially important one is “why doesn’t it bother me when I don’t get an answer?”
Ask questions that you can answer.
The key is to ask yourself questions that are specific enough for you to formulate responses. Ask questions that have a measurable answer. A concrete answer.
For example, I wouldn’t want to ask, “Why do I know how to meditate?” because it’s open-ended and I can’t provide support. Be more specific.
I might instead ask, “Why is it so easy for me to sit calmly for 10 minutes?”
If you want to change your behavior, that change should be your identity.
If you feel like you should take more risks, maybe your question would be “Why do people think of me as a risk-taker?” Your brain will try to come up with support — evidence that it’s true. Your awareness of the process will change your behavior.
Make it your identity.
What questions could you be asking yourself in order to achieve your goals? I challenge you to create a new MO for yourself every week. They’ll reinforce themselves and, before you know it, they’ll be what you’re known for.
Write down your goals and make a list of supporting evidence. What do you do, or wish that you did more of, to make them true. Add to that list whenever you think of something new. Read that list every day to help remind yourself of your new MO.
This doesn’t have to be perfect. Adjust it as you go. Be creative – what would you change about your personality if you could? Write it down. Change your awareness.