Saturday, August 11, 2018

Asking new questions

Much of our verbal interaction relies on familiar and safe questions, the classic being "How are you?" This is such a familiar question to all of us that we don't even really answer it anymore. Not with any considered thought anyway. We say "Fine" or "Good." We ask ourselves and others equally familiar questions. What do I want to eat? Waht should I wear? What am I going to do next? I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with these questions. They're often appropriate and helpful. But learning to ask ourselves different questions, new questions can lead to a different quality of life. Here are some new questions I'm asking myself.

Do I need to rest now? As an addict to productivity and a to-do list, this question has become vital to my well-being. Instead of racing on to the next project, I ask myself if I need a break. Do I need to go out and walk around the block? Do I need to spend some time with my cats? Do I need to go out to the porch swing and read a chapter in whatever book I'm reading?

Will saying nothing be a better choice? By nature, I'm a fixer and an idea generator so if you've got a problem, I've got a suggestion. But I'm learning to listen without responding. I can have those great ideas and not share them. If you ask me for one, I can give it to you, but much of the time, I know we all just want to be heard, not fixed.

What would be most satisfying to do next? As a food addict, I am always on the outlook for ways to be satisfied that don't involve eating. I'm slowly learning to monitor satisfaction through activities and interactions with others. I'm creating a repertoire of things that work for me and a key to this is to make that a priority.

Will this choice increase my peace of mind? I've written about this before but asking myself this repeatedly during the day is so helpful, from accepting an invitation or a work project to getting something out of the refrigerator. Peace of mind is my filter.

What new questions could you ask?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Another inquiry about self-talk: conversations

I seem to be on a roll with inquiring about my self-talk (assumptions, complaints). And I think this is very important work. As one of my teachers reiterates, we don't live in the world. We live in the conversations we have about the world. And we can manage and choose those conversations.

So what kind of conversations do I want to have with myself and others? Conversations about possibility, not about problems. Conversations that encourage me to think wider, kinder, more generous thoughts about myself and others. Conversations that encourage me to take risks in my painting and writing, regardless of what others will think of the product. Conversations that keep my own needs in perspective with the needs of others. Conversations that stay away from complaining and blaming.

There's a wonderful freedom in knowing that this is all up to me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Exploring the end of complaint

We've been having a heat wave here in Portland and while I'm so grateful to have invested in two portable air conditioners for bedroom and studio, I'm used to using my whole apartment for cooking, eating, entertaining, hanging out. Instead of the usual peace and quiet, I am living with my biggest fans. Instead of the lovely views out my window, I have all shades and curtains drawn. But I've really noticed that all my complaints about this, spoken to myself as well as to others, has not had any impact on the temperature outside. Shocker!

In this case, complaining is a completely worthless effort. It does not make me feel better to do it, and it doesn't change anything. It just keeps me unhappy. And no wonder. Every time I complain, I hear it. And it wears me down. It's the same thing with my complaining about our current president. It has no impact on his behavior whatsoever.

So I've been exploring what it would be like to just give up complaining. I think this would be useful for me. It doesn't preclude change, by any means. But instead of saying what's not working, I can ask for what I want in those situations where change is possible and accept those where it is not (Serenity Prayer).

What's your relationship with complaints?