Meditate your way to new healthy habits …“but I suck at Meditation!”

Change is hard. Even when we know it will benefit us in the long run, we still resist it with all we’ve got. Whether its cutting out fast food, learning a new skill, hitting the employment sites to get a new job…the desire to bail is often greater than our desire to go for it.

And there are plenty of reasons for this. Mainly, your whole psyche is geared around keeping you safe. Survival is essential. Change means instability and our bodies and minds will fight that at all costs. Also succeeding at survival is more likely when we can react quickly and without hesitation…the opposite of what it takes to stick with and create a new behavior.

This is why we need to become aware of our thoughts, our physical sensations, even our breathing patterns, to override this resistance to change.

And, just five minutes a day of meditation can be your biggest weapon against your instinct to play it safe.

It sounds too good to be true, right? Don’t take my word for it. Google “scientific tests on five minute mediation” and see all the studies that pop up. Study after study has shown the benefits of meditation from getting over addiction to getting better grades.

“But I suck at meditation!” you say. Actually, the “worse” you are, the better for creating lasting change.

Meditation is nothing more than being still and paying attention. Focusing on ONE thing, be that music (the link to my fave meditation tracks are below), your breathing, a fixed place on the horizon… You can focus on a word or a color if you want. Just choose something to focus on and then, sit still.

Likely, you’ll be able to focus for about 15 seconds before your mind wanders. You are not failing at meditation! THAT’S NORMAL. THATS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. But the next step is what makes meditation so beneficial. The moment you notice you’ve stopped paying attention to the music, etc, let go of whatever thought has pulled you away from your chosen focus. Just drop the thought that pulled you away, and come back to your breath, music, etc. This releasing and returning will happen repeatedly. And that is how you override your desire to stay safe. Notice the thoughts that grabbed your attention, and return to your focus..

When you practice this form of meditation, you are training your brain to react differently to urges and impulses. For example, if you’re a smoker, you may not notice that a commercial for beer or coffee trigger you to reach for a smoke. If you’re chronically late, you may not notice that you’re choosing to send just one more email before heading out for your appointment. If you are a procrastinator you may not notice that you actually feel more committed to goofing off than getting to work. (Which is usually the case with procrastinators…stay tuned for a separate newsletter about that topic)

By becoming aware of our thoughts while meditating, we can more easily notice our “unconscious” thoughts, habits, and behaviors in our daily activities. Armed with this information, we can begin to consciously change. So, for the smoker trying to quit, they may have to avoid watching TV at night for a few weeks. Tardy people trying to be more accountable may choose to put their smartphones in their backpack 15 minutes before they want to leave the house. Procrastinators might be able to acknowledge their desire to slack off but not be pulled into that desire. They will be able to make the conscious decision to get to work.

Change requires HUGE amounts of focus, attention, and willingness. Training your mind to be effective at noticing your thoughts, and then letting them go, is crucial to creating lasting change.

And it starts just with five minutes a day.

(And I coach people with this all the time so if you want extra help getting a meditation practice started…fire me an email and we’ll set up a session.)

And my personal fave meditation music: THALLEE link

Do what you say you’re going to do… Aim for Impeccable

Aim for impeccable vs average

We know when we’ve done it: agreed to something that we shouldn’t have. Sometimes we say yes because we want to be liked, sometimes we get talked into things because we think we “should” do them. But the truth is, we are not meant to do everything. And, if you aren’t the one to do it, there is a good chance that someone else will do it anyway.

A clear and sincere “no” can be very powerful. I’m not saying to be bratty, stubborn, or flat out lazy. I’m suggesting that before you take on yet another task, quietly check in with yourself and ask, “Do I really want to do this?”. If you don’t absolutely 100% want to do it, then with direct sincerity say “no”.

Marie Forleo (marketing maven) calls it “buying a first class ticket on the ‘no’ train!”

If you say yes and then try to slide your way out of it, you are on a slippery slope to being unreliable. And part of being successful in life, is being someone others can count on.

Don’t take my word for it…look around in your own life. Who is accountable? Who is a flake? How do you feel about that flaky manager, friend, professor? What is you honest opinion about them? Knowing you can’t count on them, what level of respect do you have for those people?

Is that how you want to be perceived by others? I doubt it. None of us wake up in the morning stating “Today, I shall drop the ball!”

We all want to have integrity. But before we can have integrity with others, we have to have it with ourselves. How good are you at keeping your commitments to yourself? Usually people who follow through on goals for themselves, find it easier to turn down requests that they know they can’t commit to. If however you notice you are knee deep in promises that you now regret making, you likely are letting yourself down as well.

But, with practice, you can change that.

Start small.

For example:

I started with a 30 day challenge to floss my teeth every day. Since childhood, dental hygiene has ALWAYS been a struggle for me. As much as I hate the dentist, for some reason, I hated flossing more. So, my challenge was to floss every day for 30 days. I chose this challenge also in the hopes that my dental experiences would be improved should I finally adhere to this practice. I stuck to it. If I missed a day, I had to floss twice the next day…until I got to 30 days. (and now I floss most days)

Maybe for you it’s:
-Putting out your gym clothes before you go to bed.
-Making the bed.
-Gassing up your car every Sunday.
-Sitting and meditating even if it’s just for a few minutes
-Eliminating a specific food from your daily diet

You can also set small commitments with other people. Turning off your phone for certain periods of time is liberating once you get past the technological withdrawal. Unless you’re an ER surgeon, it can wait. You can have 5 minutes without being at someone’s beck and call. (And side note, if you are taking a class like yoga or pilates, turn your phone off. It’s distracting to the rest of the class and the benefits you will reap from unplugging will far out way the hour or so that your friends or boss can’t reach you.)

And let me stress, your time is VALUABLE. I used to have a hard time ending sessions on time if clients were late. Now? It’s easy. But, I had to ride out the queasy feeling of letting them know out time was up when the hour ended…regardless of what time they arrived. I still have people see the clock and try to “extend” their time with more questions, but now, I firmly say “we’ll go over that next week. Our session was until 11am” etc. But for the most part, they have learned that I stick to my agreements and our session time is one of them. Being accountable is always more appreciated than being flaky.

So, challenge yourself to make and keep your commitments to yourself and others by starting small. Then, when the bigger requests come along, quietly and honestly ask yourself if this is really something you want to do. And if the answer is “No”, be as direct and respectful as possible. Because sometimes, the best decision, is to take that “first class ticket on the ‘no’ train”!

“Trimming the sails” for a more balanced and focussed life

“We constantly trim the sails: some ships ply east, and some ply west, by the self-same wind that blows. It is the set of the sail, and not the gale, that determines where it goes” Chuck “C”

In other words, life WILL take you off course. It’s your job to keep your life pointed in the direction you want to go. Try to do a little more of what you love every day. And, try when possible, to do a little less of what you don’t like to do.

You may need a day job to support your art at night. You may need to miss out on some girl nights if you want you child to do better at school. You may have to go home for a few months to care for an aging parent until they have the help they need. Sometimes we have to compromise and sometimes, life throws us off track completely. But that still doesn’t mean you can’t readjust your course and continue to keep yourself on target. It might take longer or the road might not be so linear, but if you remain on your trajectory then you are not being swayed by the trade-winds or storms that inevitably appear in life.

I think this is where we also need to look at our idea about “balance”. Living a “balanced” life has become the catch phrase of what a “fulfilling” life is all about. But the harsh reality is you may never have exactly right amount of time for your physical health, mental health, relationships, work, spiritual practice, and sleep. This “balance” that we are striving for should feel more like an equilibrium rather than a perfectly level teeter-totter. Equilibriums have constant change and fluctuation as the norm. Something is thriving while something else is wilting. Something is contracting so something else can expand. For every inhale, there is an exhale. That is the balance we should aim for.

Which means, sometimes, your work has to come first. And sometimes work has to take a back seat to your family’s needs. And sometimes you need to take an entire weekend to unplug, breath deeply, and get your downward dog wagging it’s tail.

“You can have it all” is a bad lie that women were told back in the ’80’s. And now that many men are taking on more of the responsibilities of child-rearing, they are under more pressure too. Most of us all agree, that belief was toxic and has unfairly overstressed many families attempting to achieve such “balance”. But our new vision isn’t realistic either.

Twyla Tharp said that when she was in the midst of choreographing one of her masterpieces, she would seal herself into her “creative bubble” until it was complete. There is a certain level of tunnel vision needed to create something new. And whatever you’re creating…a healthy new lifestyle, a feature film, a family, a renovated bathroom…whatever your main focus is, let it be just that: your main focus. Keep your eye on the prize. Choose what you will have to ease up on to accomplish this task. (And if it’s going into hibernation from social outings, I highly suggest giving your friends the heads up so they know the cave you’re in is one of your making.)

I’m not saying to bail on all responsibilities for your art or drop your dreams when the shit storm hits. But, consciously deciding “what will it take?” is a question worth asking. And then, see how you can STILL include more of what you love than what you don’t. If you are knee deep in helping someone critically ill, you likely won’t get the book written as quickly as you had hoped. Yes, they will require most of your attention but you can still trim your sales and squeeze in some time to jot down some thoughts or read something inspiring. Just like if you just landed a role in a tv show…you wouldn’t be as available to your friends and family for a while. But, by accepting a more realistic idea of balance…change and fluctuation vs everything as a perfectly balanced scale…you can focus on what you need to do today, and less of the rest.

“I’ll figure it out” vs “I just don’t know what to do…”

“I’ll figure it out” vs “I just don’t know what to do.”
Allow me to be blunt..“I just don’t know what to do” is a total cop out.

It’s awfully convenient that you staying ‘confused’ also keeps you safe. If you ‘knew’ what to do, then you would have to take action, step up to the plate, take the risk, own your dream. So “I don’t know what to do” actually means, “I don’t feel like it” or “I’m scared”, etc.

Instead of buying into the “I don’t know” myth, try a different thought:

“I’ll figure it out”

“I’ll figure it out” gives you all the permission in the world to be freaked out and confused. It gives you ownership of where you are at and frees you up to receive help.

“I’ll figure it out” also gives your brain a direction to move…forward. “Not knowing” keeps you in that never never land of poor me. And, if you stay in that land for too long, the label “victim” might surface and none of us want to associate ourselves with that word.

And as much as you might hate to hear this…everything ever created could have been better. Every book, every design, every relationship, every day…there will ALWAYS be room for improvement whether you “know” what to do or not.

So, instead, enlist the phrase “I’ll figure it out”.

Then, keep up with the questions. “How? How will I figure it out? Who do I have to call, what do I have to research, what possible strategy could I use to ‘figure it out’?”

I highly recommend taking that action ASAP, like NOW. Get the ball rolling. Which might mean picking up the phone or quietly journaling or, going for a run (repetitive activities often open us up to ideas our brains are otherwise too busy to hear) Side step your usual excuses and distraction…I sincerely doubt that tweeting is what you need to be doing right now. The truth is, the sooner you start stepping forward in the direction you want to move, the sooner you will achieve your goals.

Decide today to “be the one who pulls it off”. And before you know it, you will have “figured it out”.

Willingness Vs Willpower…our Ambivalence to Change

Willingness vs Willpower and our Ambivalence to change

How do we create lasting change?
Truth bomb…it ain’t easy. It’s Hard with a capital H. We humans despise change and even if we know what we are doing is bad for us, we prefer to repeat our behavior rather than change it.

But, we know that change is possible. If you can learn bad habits, you can learn good ones too. Right? Absolutely.

But before we get into that, I’d like call Bullshit on something our society seems to revere as the highest ranking value: Willpower.

If you think you don’t have enough willpower, let me remind you that at some point (unless you had a genetic predisposition), you stood. And then you walked…and eventually ran. Did you fall down? Yup, you did. You fell many, many times. Did you still keep at it until you could walk and run without falling? Yes you did. So we all have willpower. Let’s put that excuse to rest.

Breaking bad habits and creating new healthy ones isn’t about willpower.

It is a matter of desire and more importantly, willingness.

Ask anyone who has ever made a big change in their life: quit smoking, changed careers, left a bad relationship, finally finished writing the book…willpower had little to do with how they followed through. What they DID have was a very strong desire to change (failure was not an option), and the willingness to feel uncomfortable when the going got tough. They also had a plan. Not just the action steps required to achieve their goal, they also had a plan for how to handle the obstacles that would likely come up. That’s where willingness is crucial for creating lasting change.

Let’s use quitting smoking as an example (which I did myself 25 years ago). Why do you want to quit? Don’t use your spouse’s concerns or your children’s guilt trips as reasons why, unless they resonate for you. Why do YOU want to quit smoking (…fill in the blank for anything you want to change). Get very clear and excited about seeing yourself as the person you want to become. Visualize it and fully engage all of your senses. When you have already overcome the challenge, how will that feel? How will your life look? What will you say and hear other’s saying? How will your body feel? Again, really connect with your feelings.

Now ask yourself, what you’re going to have to give up to achieve this goal. What are some of the “negatives” about changing this behavior? Lasting change means sacrificing some things. Take time to acknowledge what losses you will have to accept.

Ambivalence is a normal part of goal setting that most of us confuse with a signal to give up. Again, our resistance to change is huge. But, until your new behavior is habitual, it will take energy and probably some trial and error before it starts to feel easy. And going back to my example of quitting smoking, there is a lot to give up. For example, aside from the addiction itself, smokers often have to give up some social situations. When I quit, I avoided seeing my smoking friends for a few weeks. I avoided the smoke filled bars (you were allowed to smoke inside bars back then!…and on planes!) At parties, I stayed inside while my smoking friends went outside. That was a big sacrifice for me because I had close ties with those people…we spent hours out in the cold smoking and gossiping. (And seriously, it was cold…I’m from Canada!) There was some loneliness and serious boredom for me to overcome. Was it still worth it to me to quit? Was I willing to stay inside and make new connections with the non-smokers? Yes, I was willing. I wanted to have the label: “non-smoker” be my new identity.
Honor your ambivalence. Allow room for yourself to feel the crummy stuff. But don’t let it take charge. Instead, write it out. (Do not do this in your head.) Write out all the reasons you don’t want to go for it and include the things you will have to give up. And then for each item on your list, decide… “am I willing to feel and experience this in order to achieve my goal?”

If you truly want to change and know why, you will be able to answer this question with an earnest “yes”. But, let’s not be naive either. This is an opportunity for you to be honest with your limitations and prepare for them in advance. And every time they come up, you can remind yourself to revisit WHY you want it and that you are WILLING to handle this present challenge.

A lot of people post “am I willing?” all over their home and office as reminders. Some people set reminders on their phone so when they enter into a “potential ambivalence challenge”, they are prepared to take action. And some people enlist their friends to remind them of why they want to change and how great they will feel when they’ve achieved it.

Whatever works best for you, do it! But first:

WHY do you want to make this change?

WHAT obstacles might come up and WHAT will you have to give up?
(write it out)

Are you WILLING to feel the feelings that will inevitably come up should these obstacles actually happen? (go through each item on your list)

And then start living as the person you want to be. Start taking those actions now and keep your “willingness tools” close as you go for it.

July 24th Workshop

slider2

 

How to  Get Out of Your Own Way and Get What you Really Want!

workshop led by Brigitta Dau

~ Is another year speeding by without seeing your goals come true?

~Are you “shoulding all over yourself” rather than taking REAL ACTIONS to get what you      want?

~ Are you ready to try a new approach?

In three hours, you will gain clarity on why you want what you want, discover your patterns of resistance and self sabotage, learn quick and effective strategies to move beyond what’s holding you back, and leave with an effective and doable plan to make those goals happen. We’ll cover everything from procrastination, to rejection, to perfectionism. As well as cultivate skills to manage stress, like mindfulness and cognitive exercises. Learn how cultivating what you’re passionate about and ending self sabotage will help you create the life you are meant to live.

Date: Sunday, July 24th
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Location: Los Angeles
Cost: $50
Contact: brigittadau@yahoo.com for more information or to register today. Must register by July 15th. Space is limited.
Brigittadau.com

_DSC4035Web

Yes! I Want it! How do I get it!?!

The Half Way Check in…
Part two

Yes I want it! How do I get it?!

You’ve decided, “YES with a capital Y! I still want to achieve this goal this year.”

So then, where are you in terms of achieving it?

This is the moment of truth. This could be a lovely “high five” moment or it could be a tough love reality check. Be honest. What are you doing on a regular basis to achieve this goal? Where are you doing great? Where are you blowing it? Where are you holding yourself back? Could you be doing more?

To use myself as an example, I’ve had a busy year and can say I’ve achieved some of my goals already. Or at least, I’m well on the road to seeing the success I’m hoping for. But what about the other one or two that I set back in January? They are right where they were six months ago. Any action I’ve taken has been sporadic with little consistency thus little movement has occurred towards seeing these goals become reality. Do I still want them? YES. Am I excited about them? YES. So, I have to get honest with myself as to what I’m doing or not doing to achieve them.

If that sounds like you, then let’s get real.

Big question: Why? Why have you not applied yourself to the best of your ability to make this goal come true. What is stopping you? Where are you stopping yourself?

Now, before we go into our “I suck, I’m a loser, I have no willpower, what’s the point” story, imagine you are talking to a friend instead of yourself. What would you say? Likely, you’d ask them what they were AFRAID of.

When we show up small in our lives it’s because we are afraid. Afraid of rejection, embarrassment, failure…Change alone is very challenging. It can be confronting and awkward and none of us enjoy feeling self-conscious.

So, be compassionate with yourself. And be curious. And…honest. Why haven’t you gone after it? Writing about your feelings is a great way to get clear about not just how you are holding yourself back, but your motivations for not taking action. When you know WHY you are afraid, then you can take action to overcome it. Usually, once we look at our fears, we can honestly say we are willing to try anyway. Putting the smoke and mirrors act to the side allows us to take full responsibility for ourselves and puts us back in the driver’s seat of our lives.

You’ve heard me say this before: Plot it out. What do you want to see happen by July 1st? August 1st? What will you have to do to see that result? Schedule it. For example, let’s say you want to be able to be able to run 3 miles. Well, what actions will you have to take? You’ll probably have to run 3 – 4 times a week for a certain amount of time to build up to 3 miles. Maybe this week you will jog for a 1/2 hour, 4 times. Schedule those runs. What day? What time? Make plans with a friend if it helps. (I also recommend thinking ahead to the excuses you will make to NOT go for it. Prepare for your resistance in advance…excuses are not facts, they are the ways we sabotage ourselves.)

Get super clear about WHAT ACTIONS YOU MUST TAKE. And SCHEDULE THEM.

And remember to reinforce the good stuff! When you actually follow through, give yourself lots of kudos for taking another step forward. Pretty soon, with consistent action, you will see your goals becoming reality.

 

Is it June already???

The Half Way Check in

Part one
It’s June…already…

Like all years, this one is flying by and before we know it we will be ringing in the New Year. And, likely setting some goals or resolutions, yet again.

The question is…will they be the same goals from this year?

At this point of the year, its always beneficial to check in and see how things are going. This is not an opportunity to beat yourself up. It is however an opportunity to get honest about what we really want for ourselves.

You know your goals or the resolutions you made. Hopefully you wrote them out and have been checking in with them on a weekly basis.

Or, maybe you forgot about them or gave up on them a few months ago.

Now is the time to revisit them.

For several reasons:

Maybe, it was too hard. Was it possible the goal wasn’t realistic in the first place? Would a revision be a good step in the right direction? (i.e., running consistently 4 times a week vs running a marathon. For some people running a marathon is an easy goal to achieve. For many of us though, it’s a huge goal that requires a lot of other small goals to be achieved first. If running a marathon is epic for you, set a more reasonable goal such as a committing to a consistent running schedule.)

Another important reason to check in? Are your goals still valid? Do you still want to achieve them? We all change over the course of a year and sometimes what seemed super exciting six months ago isn’t a priority anymore.

The first thing to ask yourself is “Do I still want to achieve this?”
This is important to clarify for yourself. Towards the end of 2015, I challenged my clients to get everything they could off their “to-do” list so they could go into 2016 with a clean slate. Which meant for some of them, to let go of certain things that wouldn’t have a great impact on their lives.

If you can “declutter” your goal list by dropping what’s not worth it, you can create more energy for yourself to go after the goals that will make you truly happy.

To determine which goals are still important, ask yourself “why do I want to achieve this goal?”. Don’t just go with your first answer. Ask yourself this at least 3 times and try to narrow down the specific emotional reason you want this goal. How will it make you FEEL when you achieve it. (More specifically, how will it make you feel WHILE going after it?)

If your answers are wishy-washy or bland, I say drop it. Also, if you feel stressed or resentful at the thought of it, ditch it. If however, you feel your heart skip a beat and you get excited about how your life could be if you went after it, then keep it on the list.

Some great questions to ask yourself are “What kind of person will I be by going after this goal? Would my friends be excited for me if I went after this? How will my life look if I actually pull this off? Does going for it light me up?”

Journal about it, ask your friends their thoughts…and then… Decide. Is this a “lights me up YES!” goal? Or is it time to drop it like a hot potato?

In a few days you’ll receive part 2 of the “check in” newsletters: Yes, I want it. How do I get it?!

So sit down with these questions today. Remember, “your circumstances are not determined by your resources, they are determined by your choices” – Tony Robbins

 

Offloading emotions, AKA BS Stories

When we fail, or get hurt, or feel jealous or angry…when we feel bad about things, we often jump to “offloading emotions” status.

“Offloading emotions” is a nasty form of self-talk that stops us in our tracks.

Some examples:

“I failed and feel terrible” becomes “I’m a failure”

“I overate again” becomes, “I’m fat and have no willpower”

“I lost my nerve” becomes, “I’m a chicken”

“I could have done better” becomes, “I’m a loser”

You can see that there is a big difference in terms of emotional charge when you compare “I could have done better” to “I’m a loser”. Stating “I’m a loser” is a wide sweeping, judgmental thought that hurts…a lot. And for most of us, thoughts like these can be paralyzing.

Like I’ve said before, our thoughts are usually not as truthful as we believe. But we are quick to offload our “negative” emotions to statements like the above.

For most of us, it’s easier to label ourselves than to be curious about our feelings. Being curious about our feelings means being willing to feel uncomfortable. It means consciously staying present to what’s going on with ourselves in those unsettling moments.

But it’s worth it in the long run.

When you are curious about your feelings, you become aware of your self-talk. You’ll quickly notice those harsh words that “voice in your head” is hurling at you. Previously, they went unchecked. But now, when you can actually hear the stories and insults your self-talk is spewing, you can consciously decide whether to believe it or not. And, if it’s not helpful, I say, don’t believe it.

(I wrote an entire newsletter titled “is this thought helpful?”…if you didn’t get it or want to read it again, let me know and I’ll send it to you.)

Start getting curious when uncomfortable feelings come up and try to catch yourself when you are offloading emotions with insults and labels. Start to cultivate more curiosity about what Bulls$%! stories you’re telling yourself.

…Maybe those stories need a rewrite.

_DSC4035Web

Generous Assumptions

What is the most generous assumption I can make?
(and still acknowledge my feelings)

There is a fabulous book called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Rusiz ( If you haven’t read it, do so!) It’s basically stating that if you follow the “four agreements”, you will have less conflict in your life.

One of the agreements that has always stuck with me is “Make No Assumptions”.

It seems virtually impossible for me to follow that agreement. And I think, we often HAVE to make assumptions to get by in the world we live in. For example, if you know it takes 1/2 hour to drive to a certain place, you can “assume” today will be the same. If you made an appointment with someone at 1pm, you can assume they’ll show up. If you had to second guess all your assumptions you’d be exhausted by 9am!

But some of our assumptions, mainly our assumptions about other people, can be harmful and counter productive.

Think back to a time in the past week or so, when you had a disagreement with someone that left you feeling bad afterwards. Maybe you felt judged, belittled, embarrassed, hurt… Take a moment now to see if you can recall what your thoughts were at that time.

“He thinks I’m stupid”, “She thinks she’s better than me”, “He doesn’t care about me”, “She’s only in it for herself”…etc,etc,etc. Just notice the thoughts.

Now, ask yourself if you can, for certain, know that your thoughts are true.

Usually when our buttons get pushed, we are diving deep into a swarm of thoughts that have little truth and even less relevance to the situation at hand.

But, how can you stop the story once it’s started?

By interrupting it.

Go back to the situation you recalled. You noticed your thoughts. Now, acknowledge your feelings (hurt, angry, etc). But, ask yourself “What is the most generous assumption I can make right now?”

Assuming “she’s only in it for herself” probably isn’t the most generous assumption you could make. What else “could” be going on?

Can you know for certain “he thinks you’re stupid”? What’s a different assumption you could make.

Making a generous assumption doesn’t mean you let people get away with behaving badly or that you stop setting boundaries. Making a generous assumption helps YOU behave in a better way for YOU. It helps you side step your old beliefs and allows space for your mind to come up with a solution rather than an attack.

And yes, you have to practice asking yourself this question until it becomes automatic. Then, when a real conflict occurs, this question will be your first thought rather than your previous knee jerk reactions. But as I always say, have fun practicing it.

When someone blows the stop sign…”what is the most generous assumption I can make right now?” Sure, they may be a self- centered jerk, or, maybe they just didn’t see the sign…

When your client is late…”what is the most generous assumption I can make right now?” Well, they might have no respect for you or your time, or maybe they had an issue with traffic or an unforeseen emergency at home.

When someone cuts ahead of you in line, “What is the most generous assumption I can make right now?” They might be totally unconscious and selfish, but maybe they just didn’t see you.

By asking this question, you are not negating the possibility that they are unconscious, selfish, etc. But you are creating the possibility that a slightly less harsh belief could also be true. And that will likely help you react in a less confrontational way.

Then when bigger things happen like your friend or partner or boss snaps at you…”what is the most generous assumption I can make right now?” will be a natural thought before you respond.

Start practicing today and let me know how it goes! And I think everyone should pass this on to someone they know because we could ALL make more generous assumptions about each other, right?