Check Your Default Settings
BY JENNY B
A friend of mine posted a screenshot of a common e-payment app that shares Who you pay and For What, unless you take action to change your privacy settings. She could see roommates paying each other back for taco Tuesday, and some funnier or more puzzling entries, including those between intimate partners.
It was funny to see and, for a moment, I felt confirmed in my ‘old school’ ways. But, then I realized the lesson scaled to an economy so much bigger than e-payments.
Six months into the year that no one planned, fuses are shorter. It feels like everyone is on edge. And, in my household, neighborhood, and even in the news, it’s becoming more and more common to hear some exasperated retort.
When I’m really frustrated, my most common comeback is some version of, “What’s your plan?” It gets said when my spouse doesn’t want to eat anything from the fridge full of groceries. Yesterday, I was trying to put pajamas on a 2-year-old and she was running around rage screaming because she wanted her favorite soccer ball t-shirt (which was in the dirty laundry), and I was like, “What do you want to do? Do you want to wear your favorite bottoms, because we won’t have the top until tomorrow? You can help me put on the laundry and then the soccer ball t-shirt will be clean…”
When I get blocked at work, my default response is to explain that I had a plan, and challenge if the person objecting has a plan or is just throwing a wrench. My goal is always to have a thoughtful plan that shows how I am handling it and being considerate of others.
Now, that doesn’t always work out. And, my 2-year-old’s most common default is, “Stop talking.” When she’s wrestling with some big emotion, she doesn’t want to be told logical next steps or how to feel.
What’s yours? Is it, “Shut up” or “Let me Finish,” because you need to feel heard?
Is it, “You don’t understand,” because you need to feel understood? Is it a non-committal, full-force-eyebrowed “OK”, because you are not ok?
Whatever it may be, we are all getting laid a little more bare in 2020. So, I realized that it merits some reflection and perhaps adjustment before my default settings serve up my information for me to the broader community. If you ask a planner, yes, I think we need to plan for how we show up in the long haul.
BY NICK HENNING
The ultimate test of a human being to remain positive if challenges become too much. Remaining positive often keeps the mind in a state of calm and opens possible resolutions for the problems that come up in our lives. If we want to be more optimistic about the things in our life, the way we are living our lives should change to a more positive approach.
The pandemic has forced millions to seek employment actively, which makes it even more challenging to stand out and to get interviews. When unemployed, a job search can be very frustrating, demeaning, and even depressing. Rejection after rejection can start to have an adverse effect on your attitude.
However, you can change how you look at the challenging situations in your life by thinking positively. Positive thinking often keeps us focused on what we want to achieve in life. We all need to have a vision of our goals and the way that we want to reach them.
A negative way of thinking can keep us from getting out of our difficulties. Certain areas make us doubt our capabilities to do anything. But when we are positive, we know that we are strong enough to get through these obstacles. When we are more optimistic about the challenges we face, we can deal with it as calmly as possible.
There are times in our lives when a problematic situation makes us feel overwhelmed. But when we have a positive attitude, we know that there is a solution to every problem that comes our way. We may feel frustrated because we can not make things work out at the moment, but when we are optimistic about our situation, we know that everything will work out for us.
To continue to have a positive outlook is not easy for everyone. If you find that it is not easy to maintain this outlook, there are things that you can do to help yourself become more positive.
One thing you can do is to learn to relax and stop trying to force positive changes into your life. Some people feel uncomfortable when trying to change their behavior. If you have to try to convince your brain that you should do something differently, you might not be as likely to change it.
Another thing you can do to become more positive is to start exercising. Doing exercise can help you to be more positive and give you the stamina to do something at a faster pace. There are many different ways to stay positive, so take the time to think about it and use it.
Start a gratitude journal and put it next to your bed. Every evening, write down three things that you’re grateful for that occurred that day. It will be an act of recalling that may be challenging initially. However, you’ll start to notice more and more things that you’re thankful for throughout the day. If you’re struggling to be positive, pull out your gratitude journal and review all the things you have to be grateful for in your life.
And the last thing you can do to keep your positive thoughts alive is to think about them. There are many books and programs online that can help you keep your positive thoughts active. It can be a significant challenge to think positive when you feel like you are losing your mind. But if you want to be happy, you can’t let these feelings stop you.
So remember to keep these positive thoughts in your mind during your job search. These thoughts don’t mean you should forget about your problems. However, if they are stronger than your negative thoughts, they can keep you in a positive state of mind.
If you want to remain positive, you are going to have to practice it. When you first get started on something, it can be hard to stay positive. You have to be consistent with it and continue to practice it. Keep in mind that it will take time and that you have to learn how to say no. This process will help you rewire the neural networks to think and as a result, act more positively.
Remember that if you want to maintain a positive mindset, your attitude has to be positive too. Your attitude has to be positive with everything that comes your way. And once you’ve got your attitude in place, you have to be strong. Think and say to yourself, “I AM STRONG!” to remain positive.
Keep practicing, and continue to be positive. It will take time, but slowly you will see your goals attained!
BY MARYBETH GRONEK
I need to process in solitude.
Please remain on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.
I’ve come to treasure the comfy respite that is my own mind. It’s familiar. It’s welcome. It has equilibrium & alignment. It’s home. ❤
When a question of significance comes my way, it’s the equivalent of a knock at the door. The question can come from any source: a boss, a colleague, a friend, a significant other. If the question exceeds the banality threshold and requires any modicum of processing, I am reticent to open wide the door and let you in. I will most likely tell you I need to think about it and get back to you.
At which point I politely close the door and ‘take it back to the team’ so to speak. I must engage my mind and think through your question deeply. The main point, though, is that I won’t be answering you right away and I don’t know when I will be able to. I must consult the many characters that live within the house for alignment. Once that happens I will get back to you.
At the risk of belaboring this point, I’ll give them names.
Ben is the first responder. Any new information hits him first. He’s tasked with maintaining the status quo and, thus, when presented with anything novel that would disrupt current processes or plans (which is often), he’s vehemently dissatisfied. He raises his voice, melts down, throws things. It’s all very… Real Housewives. As in most conversations, the loudest person goes first. 😉
Tina is the operations manager. Once Ben has gotten everything out of his system, Tina begins to ask how can I make this work? Her main job is to make the person at the front door satisfied in a way that also keeps the lights on. So she will take the question, internalize it, and think of solutions and paths forward. She will float these ideas past the rest of the household. Lots of back and forth is needed to make everyone comfortable with the approach (especially Ben).
David is the communications director. Once a course of action/answer is decided upon, David steps in to position it just right. His job is to anticipate the sentiment & response of the porch dweller and craft his message in such a way to assuage concerns and mitigate swirl.
Once alignment is achieved, I happily return to the door and inform my colleague/boss/friend/partner of the answer (using David’s household-endorsed script, of course).
I’ve been doing this forever. Excluding other people from my internal processing & presenting them only the final response. Not because I dislike them. On the contrary, as a measure of respect. I return with my complete, robust analysis — a neatly-wrapped gift with a gigantic bow that I happily place at their feet. Giddy from a job well done; my glee exceeded only by my reverence. I have spared them the messy burden of meeting Ben and Tina and David. Instead I present a spokesperson. It’s all so… efficient.
Lately, though, I’ve been wondering: at what cost?
Pragmatically speaking, this ‘please remain on the line and a representative will be with you shortly’ approach has two main problems.
There’s something more, though. Something that can’t be quantified.
I return to my original question.
My modus operandi is efficient, but at what cost?
Lately, I’ve been asking myself questions like — what does it mean to let someone *dwell* with me in my life? Not just “share space” with me, but actually let their presence impact that space. To give them agency in my life. I don’t just want bodies inhabiting my geosphere; I want souls interfacing with my existence.
I want to “let people in” in the deepest sense of the word — giving them sight-line into my thoughts and emotions and letting them inform those thoughts and emotions. Otherwise “relationships” are just a fancy moniker for dress-up. I have constructed this beautiful answer for you and all you get to do is choose what sweater it wears. That seems…uneven. I’m doing all the work and you’re just a reactive spectator.
We were made for community. We were made for depth. We were made for the messy back and forth with each other.
We were made for more than dress-up.
I’ve been leaning into this conviction. More and more every day, I’m challenging myself in this space. Here are some examples.
I’m working on the craziest project at work right now with an aggressive timeline in one hand and expectation of excellence in the other. I lead a team in designing operational processes amidst a solution landscape that keeps changing. As soon as I tackle one problem, five more problems surface. I’m being tapped for thought leadership at such a rapid pace that I don’t have the luxury of retreating to my mental bunker and emerging with a PR-approved response. What I mean to say is — my colleagues are now meeting Ben, Tina, and David. They are seeing it all. And I hope they respect me more for it.
My boyfriend and I just hit our 8-month anniversary (all the lifers out there collectively awwwwed). I’m learning what it means to process things with him. To let him see Ben first. And respond to Ben. I’ve found that when that happens, the “operational” conversation with Tina goes much more smoothly. And we arrive upon better outcomes together. Sometimes, we don’t even need to pass things by David. ❤
And my appetite for this way of processing increases more and more each day. It was extremely uncomfortable at first (and still is). Embarrassing even, as I expose parts of myself that haven’t seen the light of day; the oxygen-deprived weaklings struggling to stand on their own two feet. I can do nothing but absorb the humanity of it all. Even so, I’m starting to sink in to this glorious feeling that for the first time in my life I am actually ‘letting people in.’
I used to think “letting people in” meant ensuring no room of my house was ‘hidden’ from them (aka no secrets). What I’m telling you today is that that concept is great, but elementary. What good is knowing all the rooms if you are not acquainted with the people inside? The people who have so artfully decorated the rooms that provide you so much refreshment and comfort?
Here’s a more mature understanding of ‘letting people in’: it’s about providing others sight-line into our cognitive processes and giving them the immense privilege of influencing the outcome.
I’ve found that when I do let people see and inform my thinking, we achieve a better result together (and usually get there quicker!). And later on, upon settling into my mind at the end of a long day, its a different sort of retreat. Not like I’m hiding or scrambling for an answer. Rather, a celebratory retreat, like I’m sharing a beer with some dear friends who just achieved something worthwhile.
I’m not saying that from now until eternity I’ll let people in as soon as they knock. I pick and choose my entry-points. And sometimes my introvert persona insists on having its own way. And I yield. That’s more than okay. My message here does not deal in absolutes.
But I will say this. Today, and yesterday, and the day before that — I let the porch dweller in. And we’re both better off because of it.
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