Words in My Head

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Tag: change

Accepting Compliments is Impossible

One of the challenges I have had to try and overcome in the last 25 years has been accepting compliments from people. And yes, I know that sounds weird.

Many years ago at a Christmas party, we had a “Talent Show” of sorts and I sang and played guitar on stage. We did it two separate years and I don’t remember which year it was, whether it was when Dave G and I played “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel, or another year when I performed but honestly don’t remember what I sang. Might have been a Christmas song even. But the daughter of a coworker complimented me on the performance and I essentially rebuffed it, telling her I was crap. Her response was that I really needed to learn how to take a compliment.

She wasn’t wrong.

These days I have become a bit better at it, choosing to say “thank you” and leave my own opinion out of my response. But inward, I’m still harsh and usually tell myself all sorts of entertaining stories to convince myself it’s not true.

Today, for instance, Coach Drea complimented my ability to push through today’s workout, noting that she can see the change that’s come from the changes we’ve been doing through the nutrition challenge. And I said “thank you” and let it go at that as I cleaned up my equipment. But on the way home, inwardly it was a different story.

Let me preface this next part by saying this has NOTHING TO DO with Drea. She’s an amazing person and coach and I value her has a friend, this is just purely my brain ticking off the ways she must be wrong. So again, I’m not saying any of this crap is true — the opposite in fact.

Watching my inner dialog, I questioned her intent.  She was encouraging me as a coach simply because it was her job to do so and she wanted me to continue paying my monthly membership fees. She was encouraging me because she wanted me to continue on the nutrition challenge and not give up (we’re on day 12 of a 62 day challenge).

Let’s walk through the bullshit factor in those statements. The nutrition challenge is free to members. I’ve been a member for nearly 5 years, so it’s not like that’s going to change unless something drastic happens. She is ALWAYS very positive and every day asks how we’re doing, what she can do to help, and is a wonderful person.

Her intent is pure. But inwardly I still beat myself up about various things. I could have done better. I can always do better. I should have run more. I should have done more weight or larger sets. I should do more mobility to take care of the grip issues plaguing my left hand and forearm.

As a result, her compliments were meaningless to my inner dialog because the inner critic rules the roost most of the time. How’s that for twisted?

I was even encouraging to every other athlete at the box this morning — cheering on Carrie, Logan, and Nick as they fought through the same workout I was doing. It was easier than listening to the supportive comments from other athletes like Caleb & Bill who were cheering me on.

Yeah, my brain is a mess.

Several weeks  ago, Coach Nicole asked me to focus on the positive in my write-ups more than the negatives. It’s something I need to do more often.  Nit-picking is so much easier than looking for the good things that are all around and within me. Family. Friends. Happy things. Life is good if I look at it the right way. There will always be issues, but the good usually outweighs the bad.

So moving forward, I am working VERY hard on being more positive. Accepting things as they are in the moment. And being more thankful for the positive vibes I get from those around me.

An impossible task? Perhaps. But it’s time to make some changes. I fight change constantly, though it’s truly the only constant in the universe.

Who’s with me?

Some days you realize how far you’ve come

Life likes to test us sometimes, or so it seems. Yet I’m coming to realize that perhaps it’s not what happens to us that’s important, but what we invite into our lives.

When the unexpected happens, I sometimes rail against it like a living thing. Nothing today went according to plan, from the moment I woke up to the time I’m getting ready for bed. And that’s ok.

It was ok.

That statement simply acknowledging that change happened is a huge step forward for me. Used to be I would freak out at the smallest deviation. Today, to use a football term, I “called an audible” at 6am and it changed the order of the day. Ev made some calls, I reached out and changed my schedule a bit, and the world didn’t end.

Go figure.

Later in the day, I resisted another change. Why? No good reason I could fathom when I sat to think on it a bit. So I called another audible, changed my plan, and adapted.

Towards the end of my day I got into what essentially was an argument about nothing about one of the game projects I’m working on. I didn’t get the response I was looking for and got more and more walled up. I asked for one thing and got sarcasm and grief instead.

So I did the only thing I could do. I backed off, said I’d check in with them tomorrow, and let it go. Even just a month ago I might have stormed off, slammed a door, walked for hours… who knows.

Right now though I’m wondering at why I’ve seen this change today. It’s not because I’m better at “adulting” – that’s for sure. Even before today I was always pretty calm on the outside. I only get rattled when there’s a lot of people around or confrontation of some sort. Is it possible to become even more calm?

My goal these days is to simply be a better me. And that varies day to day. I’m trying many things at once and find that of everything I do, writing is the simplest part of my day. Whether I’m writing for work, for a game, or writing something for someone else, it usually flows better than any other activity I attempt.

Perhaps some of that flow is spilling into other aspects of my life. One can only hope.

Namaste.

Positivity and a Negative Mind

There’s a weird dichotomy when I look at the world from my point of view. I’m not the most positive guy in the world, really, but I find myself trying to help others look at the bright side of things more often than not. And it seems that perhaps that approach has rewired my brain a bit over the last few years.

But what do I mean by that? Let’s start with a baseline.

A Few Things About Me

If you talk to my family, they’ll tell you a few things about me.

Change is Hard

First, I don’t like change. As a result, they often had to give me advance warning (at least 15-30 minutes) before it was time to go anywhere, especially when I was doing something like reading and lost in my own head. If you try and change plans at the last minute, I get very cranky.

Second, I don’t like confrontation and will go to ludicrous extremes to avoid it. I think this goes back to my issues with change.

That said, if you do something to harm my family or friends, I can be a bull in a china shop. I may avoid confrontation, but I will maul you like a bear if you do anything to mess with my family. And family goes much deeper than blood.

Third, I don’t like interacting with people I don’t know. Or people in general. I love interacting with individuals or even small groups, but crowds are exhausting. And even dealing with people on the phone is exhausting.

If I can text you, e-mail you, or send you a chat message via Facebook or some other site, I’m there. It gives me a chance to consider my words.

The Changes

Over the last 17 years, I’ve had one very large factor for change in my life. My wife. She’s a force of nature and very impulsive. My resistance to change has been worn down out of necessity. She’s been good for me in that respect.

Having children has also forced me to deal with most of those issues I deal with all the time. Sometimes I just have to get out of my comfort zone and deal with things I don’t want to. And that’s been good for me as well.

And then there’s CrossFit, which has given me a ton more confidence in my own abilities.

I still don’t like change, confrontation, or people, but I think overall I’ve improved by leaps and bounds over where I was before I was married and had kids.

It used to be that the world conspired against me and I’d get angry about it. I had a picture in my head of how things were going to go, and they rarely went that way, which would make me less and less willing to make plans in the future.

Now, if I have a little time to get my mind right, I can leave enough room for change to not throw me off as badly. I still have to prep for it, but if I know that we don’t have a set plan and we just figure things out as we go.

But where does the positivity come in?

Helping Others

I listen and I watch. Pretty much I’m a passive observer in much of my own life. And when people talk to me, sometimes I have advice. Sometimes I don’t and the mere act of listening is enough. But usually I can make a suggestion or relate something I’ve experienced, read, or heard, and I have hope that sometimes that makes things better. I try to help when I can, even if it’s just offering encouragement.

That said, with CrossFit I have begun working on myself. I feel like until I started CrossFit, I was locked into the physical awkwardness of a 12-year old boy. Over the last 4 years, I’ve at least progressed to maybe age 13 or 14. 🙂 But I have plenty left to work on. It’s like relearning how to do the most basic things all over again, and it’s deeply humbling.

And I hope that my work ethic serves as an example to others. If I can do some of this stuff as an awkward, out of shape, 40 something, geek, then anybody can. I’m still amazed when I do simple things like kick up on the wall and do a handstand push-up. Who have I become? Or, better yet, who am I becoming?

Heck if I know, but I’m enjoying the ride — and that in and of itself is amazing to me.

Helping Myself

Beyond that, I find myself approaching the world with a cautious optimism and trying to accept things as they come. I can only control one thing – me. That has to be enough.

These days if I need something done, I try to take the time to do it while I’m thinking about it. That avoids any awkwardness with asking someone else to do it only to have them forget. Doing it gets it out of the way.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still procrastinate or put things off indefinitely. But that’s not on anybody else but me.

And because I’ve helped others, some of those folks are now helping me by offering encouragement and advice. Sometimes I even accept it. 🙂

Conclusions?

Quite honestly, 2016 was a pretty good year for me and I hope that 2017 continues the trend.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point where I can try treating myself as well as I treat others. Accepting my faults is a big part of that because it means I can address them better.

Now we just work on everything a day at a time.

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