Test a concept or suggestion with the intention of shrinking it to a usable size. Once you’ve found the meaningful and useful bits, the rest will be easy to let go of.
Chasing Shiny Info.
Reading books, taking classes, watching videos, etc. are all great ways to acquire information. Just being exposed to new knowledge can open new possibilities of thought, but that’s as far as it can go unless you try it on for size.
True knowing requires a test drive because true knowing happens through the body not by study.
Are you a career student, a self-help junkie, or someone who never feels quite ready to do something? Sure, you’re wired to be curious, so shiny new information attracts your attention, but putting too much stuff in your brain can turn good information into a liability. All that possibility is distracting and anxiety causing unless you’re turning at least some of it into opportunities.
Test driving ideas shrinks them and makes them usable. You’re trimming off the bits that don’t fit and reshaping the bits that do fit based on your experience. Ah, that’s better! What’s left can be prioritized and its purpose is clear.
It’s your turn to take this idea out for a spin. Are you trying to make a decision or does the thought of taking an action create anxiety? Perhaps one place to look for relief is in a test drive of the information you’re using. Test a concept or suggestion with the intention of shrinking it to a usable size. Once you’ve found the meaningful and useful bits, the rest will be easy to let go of.
You’re going to need to bring everything to the table
How about the performance by Eminem and Rhianna on the MTV Movie Awards last night? They performed The Monster; a song that embodies a HUGE concept of life coaching.
Life Coaching ‘Rapped’ Up in Song
Eminem’s monster is his own fear and self-doubt—something familiar to us all. We’ve been told to banish bad thoughts, to ignore them, and to only listen to positive affirmations about ourselves. The problem is that the more we ignore the ‘monsters’, the louder they get.
The trick is to make friends with all your voices – the monsters and the angels. Think of them as party guests. To have a successful party (metaphor for a successful outcome) all your guests need to be welcomed, respected, and paid attention to. All your guests.
One way to respect a ‘monster’ voice is to hear its challenge as a legitimate question, “Who do you think you are?” Consider the question, answer legitimately, and the ‘monster’ no longer disrupts your party. Why? Because its purpose is to make sure you’re prepared to leap—not to prevent you from leaping.
Try as you may to ignore or to drown out fearful thoughts, eventually you’ll need to answer them before they will allow you to move. So, make friends with all of your powerful thoughts. You’re going to need to bring everything to the table, all your experiences, all your creativity, all your hunger if you’re to have what it takes to succeed. Bringing only half—even if it’s the ‘good’ half—won’t be enough.
Doing counterproductive things may reveal your true intention.
What are your true intentions?
Have you ever procrastinated? Yes?
Are you so busy with life that you don’t have time to exercise? Yes?
Have you ever partied too much the night before something important? Yes?
You may be self-handicapping.
Self-handicapping is doing counterproductive things that make it less likely that you’ll be able to perform at your best. Not only counterproductive, but is seems counter-intuitive unless you consider the person’s true intention.
What if you weren’t sure you could win, and what if preserving your self-image was more important than winning? In that case, you’d probably create plausible deniability, “Hey, I got a C on my exam! That’s pretty good considering I was hung-over and only studied an hour before the test.”
When the outcome is particularly important or you’ll feel harshly judged by a poor outcome, self-handicapping seems a way to soften the blow. Unfortunately, it’s a big set-up for an even farther fall because not only won’t you have what you want, no one—not even you—really buys the excuse. It’s a set up for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
When you’re operating with two competing intentions, the one that matters most will decide your behavior.
Two things to try
If you’re self handicapping so that you don’t have to follow through with something you really don’t want in the first place, your challenge is to figure out what it is that you really do want and work from there.
If you’re self handicapping to avoid facing disappointment, your challenge is to find several other options for success. The more options you have the less you’ll worry over any one failed attempt because you’ll know that, even if you fail with your best effort here, you’ll have several other ways to go for the overall win.