When I left for college, my Dad handed me a book and said, “read this.” The book, “Boys Will Put You On A Pedestal (so they can look up your skirt)” was written as a “Dad’s Advice for Daughters” by Philip Van Munching. So, as an 18-year old with the freedom of not living at home, I put the book aside, and it sat on my shelf for years. I never seemed to have the time to read it, yet it somehow always made the cut every time I moved.
I’m so glad it did. I recently sat down to read it and the stories, lessons and thinking shared were entertaining and enlightening (especially as the oldest of three girls and the mother to three boys).
The life lessons Philip shares are marvelous and concise. One lesson, in particular, is similar to the guidance we share with our clients: create your stopper.
Philip explains it like this:
“A stopper…is just a line that more forcefully separates where you are now (Slumpsville, USA) with where you want to be next time you’re up (which is Fat City, baby). A stopper is a way of keeping all the bad luck in the past away from the good luck you’d like to have in the future.”
He further explains that the stopper is not really luck but instead a “psychological trick you play on yourself to refocus your thinking.”
Man, did he nail it.
This is a similar approach to the one we share with our clients: the mindset shift. This approach is focused on learning to retrain your brain to look past the blocks and obstacles to see the positive and the opportunities.
Though retraining your brain takes some time, there are little things you can do right now to make the shift. For example, you can ask questions, challenging yourself to determine how true something really is (“Is this true? Or do I believe it to be true?”)
You can play the “imagine game.” Ask yourself to imagine what a situation could look like if something in your approach was different. You expand your thinking and push it past your habit approach (meaning: the behaviors you typically do out of habit).
You can adopt the Stop and Notice approach, the first two words of our 5-word Mindfulness Formula, to interrupt what you normally do to be more present to see and experience things around you that you never noticed. When you do this, you can better see what’s working / what’s not working so you can move forward more informed and with intention.
So here’s the real takeaway here: whenever you find yourself faced with a challenge or situation that is frustrating, take a deep breath and draw your stopper. Whether figuratively or literally, make the decision that the past is in the past and you’re only looking forward.
Then, with the junk behind you, focus on what you want and go make it happen.
Stop and Notice is one of the most effective ways to start to adjust your mindset because it allows you to literally see what is working and what is not working in any situation. Start with something small, like how you create your grocery shopping list. What works with your approach to creating that list? What’s not working? Then move on to larger things like how you parent (what works and what doesn’t work), how your relationship is with [spouse, friend, roommate, significant other, parents, etc.] (what works, what doesn’t work) or any other thing going on in your life.
You will become aware, which leads to the ability to use what you are now know to decide the best way to move forward.
Fat City, baby.
Consider reading Stop and Notice Works Everywhere