“The narratives that control us, the stories we tell ourselves, shape our reality. And so often we just take it as assumed that what we’re thinking is true. It's accurate, it’s a reflection of reality. But don’t believe everything you think.” This from Tim Ferris in an interview with Brene Brown and Dax Shepard on the “Unlocking Us with Brene Brown” podcast. Listen in to this all-star team of exceptional human beings give a humorous and intelligent account of their own philosophies on life, the good the bad and the ugly. Who’s automatic go too is shame and blame, and how that plays out...you just might be surprised by who that is. And the one thing that keeps them fully energized and operating as their best possible selves, they each can’t live without.
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She seemed like a nice lady. Quiet. Kept to herself, mostly. I’m pretty sure she lived here alone and I didn’t see many visitors. Of course, we didn’t have that much interaction other than the occasional hello, how are you. You know, the usual pleasantries of people who only run into each other every so often. It really is such a shame though. She was still so young. Pity.
I’ve had this recurring conversation, scenario, drama...whatever you want to call it, playing in my head ever since I started living on my own a few years back. And it pops up every now and then right as I’m huffing and puffing my way up the three flights of stairs it takes to get to my 3rd floor apartment. It used to kinda freak me out, not knowing where it was coming from or why I would suddenly turn to my early demise as I hit the stairs running...okay walking, fine, trudging if you’re gonna get picky. Maybe because my poor little heart beats like the wings of a hummingbird in flight. Unused to being so used. I really do need to hit the gym sometime this year.
But after doing a little psychological grave digging, I got to the bare bones of my issue and I think it’s my fear of dying before accomplishing anything worthwhile, helpful or impactful that has my mind on my mortality and my mortality on my mind. Feeling like I’m on my way out of this world, leaving it no better off than when I first came into it. Slowly fading out over time like my favorite pair of jet black jeans gone through too many rinse cycles. And I hear it loudest when I’m procrastinating or feeling like everything is in super slow mode, not happening as quickly as I think it should. It’s almost like the Universe is completely clueless about my personal agenda. And it’s especially noticeable when I’m driving in a rush and people seem to purposely go out of their way to get in mine. They aren’t even trying to read my mind and make what I want their priority. “You know, that accident, it could have happened at a much more convenient time for me”. I mean, I recognize I’m at the center of the Universe, why does know one else? Hello, is anybody out there even listening to me? Yeah, I don’t get it.
In the words of Veruca Salt, from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, “I want the world, I want the whole world, give it to me now, I don’t care how, I want it nowww.” Right before she’s judged, labeled and dropped down the bad egg shoot. Although, Is it really so bad for a girl to know her own mind and go after what she wants with all she’s got? If it was a guy, he’d be praised as ambitious or “ya better watch out for that one, cause he’s a real go-getter. That boy’s going places. ”Yeah, nothing like a little double standard in a kids movie to keep us selfish girls in our place. BTW, if I had the courage to speak my mind like she did then maybe I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy in soul sucking jobs and expired relationships that no longer served my needs. Thinking that going after what I really wanted was self indulgent or greedy. Because I’m a good girl and good girls put others first. There’s a great book by Grant Cardone called, “If You’re not First, You’re Last.” and he’s referring to sales and business but I think it can apply here as well because if you’re forever putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own, then yours take a backseat, never becoming a priority. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
It might also explain why I don’t want a cat. I think I secretly fear being the proverbial crazy cat lady that we lovingly label as a single woman living alone with her cat, unfit for companionship or marriage. I know, it’s ridiculous, but I have this irrational belief that if I live alone with a cat, I’m tempting fate to die alone, penniless without love or purpose. So yeah, I’ve basically expanded the negative cultural definition to include pretty much all things in life going downhill if it’s just me and my cat. Who wouldn’t? Am I right? Says no one else. Regardless, it’s still a no go on the cats. Besides, I’m not a big fan of the litter box as I’ve cleaned up my fair share of other people’s crap to last me a lifetime...literally and figuratively.
But it’s in the anxiety ridden roller coaster of my mental mortality that I notice myself having light and happy thoughts of death and regret. Because nothing says stay the course like visions of coulda, shoulda, woulda beens, dancing in my head. I just feel like time’s speeding up and my progress is slowwwing dowwwn. Fortunately, I recently heard a great reminder from our friend Sean Croxton of the Quote of the Day Show, who said “You might be taking action but not seeing much effect. What most of us do at some point is quit or get frustrated and stop, then start, stop and then start up again. Because of the expectation that the effects are going to happen immediately. Although, that almost never happens. But instead, realizing that even though we aren’t getting the quick results we want in either our physical, environmental, or professional areas of life, there are invisible forces going on behind the scenes that are piecing everything together for us. Like a seed in soil. You don’t know what’s going on underneath that soil until you see the sprout. Most people stop right before that sprout breaks through the surface. And if they just kept going a little longer, the results would eventually show.”
And Bam! That was it! What I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. Funny how that works. It gave me the space to step back, breathe and slowly move forward...at least for a while anyway. I’m sure my little mind movie hasn’t completely played itself out yet, but for now…
And that’s where our triumphant trio comes in with, kind of a light and fun conversation between three pretty well known high achievers who share and poke fun at their own challenges and missteps that make them, well, as human as you and I. And it gave me a sense of relief that, no matter who we are, we’re all going through our own shit, each of us battling those inner demons that try to keep us stuck. The good news: no one is immune. The bad news: no one is immune. Which is somewhat reassuring, again, something I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it because it’s easy to think inside the fishbowl, “Why me? Why am I the only one who feels like this? It’s so not fair!” But in listening to Brene, Dax and Tim, oh yeah, they’ve had to swim upstream several times, and it’s how they dealt with the current that’s led to either failure or success.
So, now you know it. One of my secrets to getting unstuck and out of my head. And as much as I’d like to say, yep that’s right, it’s all me baby. My own inner drive and ability to smooth talk my self talk. Unfortunately, it’s not and I still need a little outside inspiration. And honestly, it’s something that’s bothered me for a long time because I know it should come from within. And sometimes it does but there are a lot of times I have to turn to someone else other than myself to get my ass moving. I wish I could tell you I am the Michael Jordan of my 40’s, just a constant inspiration and motivating force for myself and others to be, do and have their best life ever. But I can’t. So until that happens, I’m obviously overly optimistic here. I look to people, books and podcasts to get me through the tough times when I can’t do it on my own.
What strategies do you use to keep you on the straight and narrow when impatience creeps in all you want to do is stop and throw your hands up in defeat? I’m up for ideas if you have any good ones. Otherwise, you’re welcome to steal mine. Sometimes all it takes is a little jumpstart from someone else’s momentum to get our own going. And if it works, why fix what ain’t broke?
I hope you found this conversation as funny and enlightening as I did. And if you’d like to hear the full interview, please check out the podcast, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, “Brene with Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard on Podcasting, Daily Practices and the Long and Winding Path to Healing. Find links to that and all three of their social media in the show notes below.
And check out my newsletter to get a sneak peek into more of my own journey on how I’m fumbling my way through my 40’s and beyond. As always...
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