Whose problem is that?

Spoiler alert – not mine. Because, whose problem is that? Beeaaatch – that sounds like a you problem and not a me problem.

First of all, credit where it’s due – my friend Tracy Hemingway said these words to me in conversation recently, and I just stole them.

If you want to make your finances not an anyone problem (ie fix them), you should talk to her – she’s the Debt-Free Diva and she’s AMAZING.

But anyway, back to my story.

The weight of others

Most of us spend our lives influenced to a great extent by what others think of us. We can extend that to include their expectations, their judgment, their opinions. We choose (subconsciously) to make all of those things our problem. We take on the weight of their expectations and act accordingly.

In particular, my experience has been that I allow other people’s emotions to be my problem. I feel responsible to make people happy.

Well, let me tell you, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Calling all the people pleasers and the ones with the over-developed responsibility gene. And actually, if I’m honest, calling all humans.

Can you imagine how POWERFUL it would be if you lived the way you want to, not the way others want you to?

Blog post:  Whose problem is that?  "Drop the opinions and expectations of other people.  Stack the heavier more important shit first.  Like your talents, and wins, and joys, and courage"

Now, there are two things I’m not suggesting:

What I’m not suggesting #1: That you’re all oppressed and living miserable lives

We can be living fairly good happy lives and still be able to live more powerfully. I mean, when you went out last Sunday and didn’t wear that dress you considered wearing – why not? Because of what other people might think? When you got your hair cut yesterday because short back and sides are considered professional and even though you were enjoying it a bit longer you thought you’d better toe the professional line? Yeah, those things.

If I put it simply, you’ll never know how it can feel to stand in your truth, be fully and authentically you, if you don’t try it. And every tiny decision we make based on other people’s opinions is a brick in the wall that stands between us and our most powerful selves.

Blog post: Whose problem is that?  20 things that women should stop wearing after the age of 30:  1-20-the weight of other people's expectations and judgments

What I’m not suggesting #2: That you should never care about anyone’s feeling but yours.

If you did that you’d be a psychopath, and the world doesn’t need more of those. There’s a pretty clear line (once you look for it) between giving no fucks and only giving selective fucks. I’m encouraging the latter.

I believe we all have an obligation to move through our lives in ways that don’t cause harm to others. Be a good human. But there’s a difference between being a good human and being a people pleaser.

You want the night off from cooking dinner because you’re tired and you’re not a slave and the other humans in your house are completely capable of having weetbix or toast? Oh, and they’re upset about that? That’s not you causing harm. They own their response to your self-care, not you. Their emotions are a them problem, and not a you problem.

And that’s what I wanted to get to, really.

That sounds like a you problem and not a me problem

These days I try to live my life very aware of the potential consequences of my actions and my words (or my inaction and my silence). I am powerful in my world when I can live my truth, see that others have opinions on that, and choose not to make their opinions my problem.

I recently had a client make a decision about my services that I didn’t agree with. I had a lot of emotions around that decision. I had feelings of failure and fear and embarrassment. Most of all, I disagreed with their decision. I thought they’d got it wrong and they were heading down a path that wouldn’t get them the outcome they wanted.

After taking some time to process my emotions, I created a list of what was mine and what was theirs:

What’s theirs

  • The right to run their business the way they want
  • The right to change their mind
  • The right to hire and fire me as they wish
  • The right to have opinions about the quality of my work
  • The right to decide they could get more value elsewhere
  • The obligation to pay me for my services

What’s mine

  • The obligation to deliver what the client asked
  • The right to get paid for doing it
  • The obligation to let them know if professionally, I thought they were creating risk for themselves
  • The obligation to respect their wishes once I’d said what my professional integrity drove me to say
  • The right to give NO POWER to any opinion they might now hold about me
  • The right to give NO POWER to my emotional responses because they were just that – emotional responses, not truth
  • The right to close a door on the whole situation and just let the rest of it be a them problem and not a me problem
  • The power to let it go and choose to be happy

*climbs down off a soapbox*

Clearly, I still have feelings about this. I’m human. But ultimately, I know I have the power.

And so do you, is the point.

Blog post:  Whose problem is that? Your perception of me is reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me

Know yourself, love yourself, HAVE POWER, find joy

You have the power to look at any given situation and ask yourself: Is this a me problem or a them problem?

Try saying out loud – it makes me feel SO STRONG AND CONFIDENT:

Oh, that sounds like a you problem and not a me problem.

See how that works?

The next time someone’s unhappy with you, think it through:

  • Whose problem is this?
  • Am I making it mine?

And feel how emancipating it is when you realise you’re not responsible for everyone’s everythings.

Love you.

Advice to my children

On New Year’s Day 2017, I wrote advice to my children. Four years later I decided to sit down and do it again – a bit of an experiment to see how my advice had changed over 4 years.

As it turns out? A lot. The advice I gave them in 2017 remained true but it was refined, honed, concentrated. The broad principles have become more focused.

I think probably what I’ve done here is encapsulate MY greatest learnings of the past 4 years. Thought I’d share them with you.

1 – Have boundaries

We can love more, love more wholeheartedly, and love in wellness when we have boundaries.

Advice to my children - Blog post:  Be kind and full of love...but have boundaries like a motherfucker.

2 – Disappoint people

Don’t live your life to please others, not on any level. So disappoint me, disappoint your grandparents. Disappoint your boss, your neighbour, anyone you need to, in pursuit of not disappointing you.

3 – Know you can do hard things

and then do them.

4 – Be brave

Take risks. Calculate the risk so you’re prepared for any outcome, but then be brave and do the thing. Miracles will happen.

Advice to my children - Blog Post: "Scared is what you're feeling.  Brave is what you're doing." - Emma Donoghue.

5 – Feel all your feelings

That’s what they’re for. Sit with them. Give them voice. Honour them. And then:

6 – Write your own resourceful truth

When you’re done feeling those feelings, explore them. Understand what beliefs and meaning are at the root of them, and then ask yourself whose belief that is, if it’s true, and if it’s helpful. If the answers to those questions are not: mine, yes, and yes, then change it. Write yourself a resourceful truth.

7 – Find reasons to be happy and grateful

In every moment. Because if you can’t do that, you’re keeping your happiness over the cognitive horizon and you’ll never get there.

Advice for my children: I was just sitting here over thinking the joy out of everything

8 – Understand that life is a series of THINGS

Some of those things we create, yes, but many – oh so many – just happen. Our challenge, then, is to understand that there will always be another thing. DO NOT spend your life waiting for the current thing to end: A pandemic. Your financial stress. A broken heart. If you wait for it to end, then as it does, or before it does, or soon after, there’ll be another thing, and you’ll spend your life in miserable limbo, waiting for the thing to end so that you can be happy.

9 – Own your happy

Understand your happy is in your full control and never give it away to anyone else. In that truth, you’ll always be powerful.

I want this for you.

Think happy, be happy

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Want to know more? Haven’t really got to know me yet? Weird, but ok.

Watch my TEDx. Watch my speaker promo reel. Or get my weekly joy in your inbox.

Surviving or thriving?

What are your best indicators of wellness?

I’ve realised that one of my best indicators of well-being is the condition of my plants.

After decades of motherhood, almost all of them while grieving, depressed, in a bad marriage or just plain lonely, I probably attempted houseplants a few times and consistently failed miserably.

#plantmurderer

Then there were the long periods where I put plants in the #letsnotevengothere box right along with pets (which are still in that box, FYI), because keeping tiny psychopaths alive was fucking hard enough, thank you very much.

Surviving or thriving

So for over 20 years, when I look around my house, I’ve been surrounded by either no plants or dead or dying ones.

That screams to me: SUR. VI. VAL.

I’m surviving, not thriving.

Survival mode is supposed to be a phase that helps save your life.  It is not meant to be how you LIVE.  Michele Rosenthal.  Author: Your life after trauma.

Now I find myself with an empty nest and the absolute luxury of committing time to self in ways I never have before.

Even so, running a business doing what you LOVE and being admired and respected is alluring when it comes to giving people your time. So much validation. So much praise… So much allure to say YES. And so, even without the in-my-face demands of children minute-to-minute, I’ve still struggled to find the right balance of space for me.

But my lovely people, right now I’m finding it. I’m in the VERY privileged position of being able to choose ONLY the work that is 100% in my joy. So in 2021, I am training and I am speaking. And that is IT.

The habits you created to survive will no longer serve you when it's time to thrive.  Get out of survival mode.  New habits, new life.

Oh baby, look at them now!

And tirohia! Look at my plants!

Look at their glorious green lusciousness!!! They tell me this is working.

I’m thriving. #fuckyousurvival

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Want to know more? Haven’t really got to know me yet? Weird, but ok.

Watch my TEDx. Watch my speaker promo reel. Or get my weekly joy in your inbox.