Archive for September 2013

How To Clear Out Your Head Trash and Make Better Decisions

Most people have a lot on their mind, even more-so when there’s a crisis in their life. All that chaos builds up and becomes a big pile of trash that’s hard to see over. Luckily, there’s an easy exercise to clear out the garbage and give yourself some direction.

Much the clutter in our brains comes from the stories we tell ourselves, which aren’t always true. Self-doubt, arrogance, and other emotions creep into our thoughts and tint them so that they don’t match reality.

We convince ourselves that a certain person doesn’t like us, or that we aren’t skilled enough to start a business, or sometimes, that we’re smarter than we really are. All this leads to inner conflict that gets in the way of the decisions we need or want to make.

When I work with a life coaching client who is trying to sort through all the chaos in their head, I have them perform a simple exercise that almost always brings clarity.

I tell them to write down the first thoughts that come to their mind about the particular problem – no filter, no pausing to rationalize, just pure, immediate thoughts.

There’s something about putting thoughts to paper that helps us see reality better. Often, when I have a client start writing down the things they think are getting in their way they look down at what they’ve written and say “Well, this one doesn’t even make sense. It’s silly.” They can throw it away instead of holding on to it.

That thought that was so serious and such a barrier when it was floating around in their mind suddenly becomes small and silly when they put it down on paper. Almost instantly, the path forward is clearer and less jumbled with head trash.

It’s important to remember that you are not a reliable witness to your own life. There’s an old saying that goes “There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and what really happened.” This is just as true with your inner dialog – there’s the story you remember, and then there’s the reality of what really happened.

The next time you’re struggling with a decision or just trying to sort your thoughts, get the garbage out of your head and onto paper. Reality will shine through and you’ll be able to better separate truth from fiction.

One Lesson From the Farm to Make Your Relationships More Fertile

Do you ever feel like you’re tying to hammer a square peg into a round hole –  like nobody you work with does things the way you need them to and you’re starting to think you might be crazy? It may be time to take a step back and figure out who it is you’re fighting against.

I recently visited a farm in Virginia to take some classes on sustainable farming – the concept of making a farm more self-sufficient. It was a fun experience and I came away with a lot of ideas that I’m going to try to implement on my farm and some that I’m trying to apply to my life.

One of the things we talked about was how, when humans setup a farm, we try to bend the land and animals to our will, because we think we know best. We cut down all the trees, flatten and till the land, and start planting nice, neat rows of corn or wheat. We separate the different farm animals into different pens to keep everything orderly.

Then we spend a lot of time trying to fix all the problems that pop up from trying to mold nature into the shape we think it needs to be. We have to buy fertilizers to keep the soil healthy and work out complex erosion controls to keep top soil from blowing or washing away.

It turns out, a lot of the problems farmers run into go away when we take a step back and let our land and animals do what they’re meant to do.

For example: Leaving more trees and shrubs in place helps control erosion. Letting our animals interact with one another helps create natural compost that we can use instead of having to buy it from outside the farm. When we stop trying so hard to bend the farm to our ideas of what we want it to be, the farm is more productive and self-sufficient.

I’ve thought a lot about applying this idea to people. How many people do we know – employees, spouses, children, etc. – who we try to force into a mold of how we want them to be instead finding out who they really are and working with grain of their particular personality?

What if, instead, we spend a little time figuring out who those people really are and what their nature is? I’ve tried to do this more with the people I know and have seen big results. I get along better with them, there’s less conflict, and more often than not, things work out like they need to.