Friday, February 19, 2010

Marriage Problem or Customer Service Problem?

By Julie Marie Rahm

How many times have you vented at your spouse at the end of the day? When it happens often enough, you start to think you have a marriage problem. Most likely it's something else. See if this story sounds familiar to you.

One of my clients is a 35-year-old mom of a 10-month old daughter. She came to me, because her metaphorical "level" had tipped from a steady horizontal to nearly vertical toward the negative. She had feelings of resentment around the demands on her each day, and guilt around feeling that resentment. She feared that her marriage was crumbling around her.

When she described a typical day, her tasks included the care and feeding of her daughter (dressing, diaper-changing, bathing, feeding, playing, laundry, dishes, watching her at all times except when napping, walking...), taking her daughter to the doctor, waiting for the heat pump repairman, preparing dinner, keeping the house clean, ...I'm sure I'm leaving out some details, but you get the idea. On this particular day, the repairman said he would arrive between 9AM and 11AM. He arrived instead at 1:15PM. The doctor's appointment for the baby was at 1:30PM. For my client, frustration quickly turned to anger. She had difficulty getting the appointment for the baby in the first place and didn't know when it could be rescheduled. Cold winter temperatures meant the house needed heat, so the heat pump had to be repaired. How was she supposed to get both tasks done? The rest of her day went downhill from there. When her husband arrived home, she let him have it. Consequently, they thought they had a marriage problem.

What my client had was not a marriage problem, but a heating and cooling company customer service problem. The attitude of the repairman was not at all apologetic. His late arrival combined with his attitude triggered for my client every past memory and experience of people not keeping their word, disrespecting her, having more to do than she could get done, and being taken advantage of. We took out her metaphorical "utility knife" and cut the cord to those old experiences. We cut away the cumulative effects of all of those experiences and memories. Then, we created neutrality for her around repairmen showing up on time or not. The next time she experiences a similar moment, she will have only the feelings around that moment to deal with. Having neutrality around the issue enables her to have clear thinking and respond effectively.

We also discussed her feelings around the multiple tasks she handles each day. We talked about the importance of her tasks, and that her purpose is what she is doing in each moment. We cut away more of the cumulative effects of her experiences and memories until she became neutral to her daily routine. Now when something does not go as planned, she is equipped to handle it effectively. She finishes the day with plenty of energy and no longer feels she needs time to relax. The "little things" that are really the "big things" no longer deplete her energy.

Gaining mastery over the seemingly insignificant things in our days gives us mastery over ourselves and our lives. It gives us clarity and choices, peace and happiness.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Career Crisis or Something Else?

By Julie Marie Rahm

We humans have it all wrong. We have it upside down and backwards. What we think is significant is insignificant, and what we think is insignificant is HUGE! Ninety-nine percent of the time, what we think is troubling us is not really the problem. It's the little stuff that keeps us stuck. When our metaphorical "levels" let us know we are slipping into a negative place, it's time to pull out our metaphorical "flashlights" to shed light on the real situation.

Take our careers, for instance. We think we are in the wrong career or job when we really have a purpose problem. As I worked with one of my clients recently, she lamented about dreading going to work and being miserable while she was there. She actually felt guilty for those feelings as if she should be grateful for having a job when so many people are out of work. As we discussed her work days, we uncovered that she was dependent on external feedback to feel good. She needed acknowledgement and appreciation from her boss, which was not his style. Each time she completed a task and did not receive more than a grunt from him, it triggered years of feelings around being unappreciated and rejected that started in elementary school. She felt unimportant, like her efforts were wasted. And, it ruined not only the rest of her work day, but also her evening with her family.

Now that we had shed light on a real issue, we could deal with it. We took out her metaphorical "utility knife" and began to cut away the cord from the trigger of her boss' response to all of the past times she felt unappreciated and rejected. We simply eliminated the cumulative effects of those experiences and memories from her mind. When she thought of those times again she remembered them with neutrality, not negative emotion. The next time she delivered an assignment to her boss and received only a grunt in return, she was able to handle it well, because she had only that one moment of emotion to deal with. All of those past negative emotions no longer came flooding back, because we cut the cord and neutralized them.

Then we had a conversation about "purpose". We discussed that each task she did was her purpose. Whatever she was doing at any moment was her purpose in that moment. Her job was important to her company's success or her job would not exist. We used the "utility knife" again and eliminated the cumulative effects of her need for external feedback to make her feel good. In its place we strengthened her for self assurance of a job well done, and neutrality to receiving external feedback or not. Reaching neutrality around feedback provided her a choice - enjoying it when she got it, and being unphased when she didn't get it.

When she began her coaching sessions with me, she was ready to find a new line of work and look for a new job. Now, she enjoys her work days. And, her family enjoys her in the evenings.

Talking about what we think is our problem when it really isn't only exacerbates it. Developing the skills to find the real root of what tips our "levels" in the wrong direction and then eliminating that root permanently is the key to a peaceful and happy life, no matter what else is happening around us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Creating What You Want Instead of What You Don't Want

By Julie Marie Rahm

As America's Mindset Mechanic, I talk about the metaphorical tools we all need in our toolbelts. When we have the tools ready we can instantly give ourselves a "mindset tune-up" when we need one.

How do you know when you need a mindset tune-up? You use your metaphorical "level". Your "level" is the most important tool, because it indicates when you are creating what you do not want. You are always creating. It is impossible to stop! When you are feeling anything negative, however, you are creating what you do not want. The reason that is true is because what you focus on grows. If you think about what you do not want you get more of what you do not want.


So, when your "level" is other than level, it's time for a tune-up. For instance, when you start feeling frustrated or impatient, your level dips down to one side. If your feelings become more negative, your level continues to dip. The moment you sense the dip, pause and notice the thought you were thinking. Then, simply think a better thought - any thought - as long as you believe it. The thought can be a different perspective on your previous thought, or you can switch subjects completely. The important thing is to stop thinking the thought that caused your "level" to dip.
 
Conversely, when you start feeling over-the-top excited, your level dips down to the other side. You may be thinking, "Isn't it good to be positive?". The answer is yes, unless you get caught up emotionally in something that may not serve you well. And, being overly excited can make you scary to others!
 
So remaining steady at either neutral or toward the positive keeps you creating in the direction you want to go. Write a list of 20 things you love that you can call on any time you need a better thought. The quicker you can redirect your thoughts to serve you (what I call developing your mind muscle), the more you will live the life you truly want and the happier you will be!
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