The Art of Manipulation.

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I was talking to a client the other day, who is very afraid of having a direct conversation with her husband. Things have been steadily improving between the two of the them and so she didn’t want to “rock the boat”. And yet, there are still some things that need to be said. She kept waiting for the perfect moment, to have the perfect conversation, to get the perfect response that would make her feel good.

I had to burst her bubble.

I told her that she was manipulating the situation with all this waiting. Manipulating the situation with the careful scrutiny of every interaction between them and always choosing to go with the flow instead of speaking her mind. She was manipulating the truth, by being silent. She was allowing fear of a potential worse-case scenario outcome, rob her present moments with her husband.

The art of manipulation.

I kept asking her questions.

What do you believe to be true?
What do you need to say?
What are you afraid of?
Are you willing to receive the truth in return?
What outcome do you want?
Why do you want this outcome?
How long are you willing to wait to experience this outcome?

The truth is that she deeply loves her husband. She wants to bring him even closer. To protect their sacred time together, despite their busy lives. She wants presence and real connection with him. She wants to eliminate the unnecessary distractions. She wants to be more vulnerable and more open with him.

She wasn’t able to see that she was working directly against herself. And that waiting to have this direct conversation was postponing what she truly wanted. Her fear about how he might respond was delaying her desired experience for an even deeper connection.

Does this sound familiar?
I’ve done this, plenty of times.

We deny ourselves of the very thing that we want most, because we want to protect ourselves. To be careful with our hearts. To not risk too much. To stay safe. We like to avoid pain and heartbreak and discomfort. But all the protection and worry about what “might” happen manipulates our truth and we move further and further away from what we really want.

So, how do we end a pattern of manipulating?

First, we need to own up to our truth and to be clear about what we really want. We deserve to claim it and to share it. To express ourselves, to be open and vulnerable is about being truly authentic.

Second, we need to accept that other people get to respond and react to us with their truth. And this can be very difficult to accept – to put ourselves out there and maybe not like what we get back. To “rock the boat” means that we may not always get the answer or outcome that we want and sometimes be exactly what we need instead. The upside is that we always know where we stand, even though it may not always feel good in the moment. We stand in our truth and so does the other person. There is no manipulation by either side, complicating or distorting things. The truth always simplifies the situation.

When I think about my brave and amazing client this week, I know that she is preparing to have this conversation with her husband. A conversation that is rooted in her truth and is detached from a particular negative outcome. She is letting go of a need to manipulate the situation ahead of time. She is open to being open. She is curious about how her vulnerability may lead to something unexpected and perfect. She is redefining “rock the boat” to mean something more empowering and inspiring. She is going in – all in. Simple and straight-forward truth telling and I am confident that she is going to be just fine.

Do It Differently

If you are like me, then it’s likely that you are heading into a normal day of routine and predictability. A full schedule. A long to-do list. Making sure that everyone else’s needs are met. And perhaps already managing your expectations that once again, you might not achieve the results that you truly desire for yourself today. That somehow your own life is not within your control and whatever happens today, happens and you will just figure out how to deal with it.

And chances are that today is a lot like yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. Same thought patterns and same results.

 

So, how do we begin to break a cycle like this? How do ensure that we get the results that we want and create time for the things that matter to us?

The good news is that we do not have to wait for circumstances (the job, the family, the to-do list) to change in order to experience new results. We don’t have to wait to lose the weight, fall in love, or earn more money in order to create the results that we want. Results are generated by the thoughts we think, not by circumstances. Plain and simple. And that is incredible, because it means that get to take full responsibility for our lives. We decide what we think, which affects how we feel, which inspires action, which creates our results.

Positive thoughts always create positive results. That knowledge is so powerful.

So when I find myself in a results rut, I know that I need to change my thinking and here’s how I do it.

First, I focus on a new result that I want for myself and why I want it. Getting connected to the ‘why’ gives us so much information to work with.

Then ask myself these questions.

What do I need to do in order to create this new result?
What do I need to feel in order to create this new result?
What do I need to think in order to create this new result?

Breaking old patterns and cycles doesn’t happen on it’s own. And it doesn’t happen while we wait for the world or people around us to change. Creating new results begins with working in our minds and no one can do that work for us. It’s an inside job.

So if today, you are looking to do something a little differently – change the routine and predictability or create more time for yourself, why not give this exercise a try and see what happens. I know from experience that it works, every time. And makes all the difference – in going from feeling ‘whatever happens, happens’ to feeling in control of creating the results that you really want for yourself. Powerful.

Commitment & Discipline

Welcome to February – the month of commitment and discipline! Many of you created (or tried to create) new routines and rituals in January, either through my 30 Day Self Care Challenge or through your own resolutions for the New Year. February is the time when you will be tested. It is the month when you will consider how committed you are to follow through on what you’ve started. The month when you will evaluate your level of discipline. It’s natural and normal, and believe me, we are all pondering these very same things right now. Here is how I am making sense of it all for myself, as I reflect back to last month and then also look ahead.

What goal did I accomplish in January?
Why did I accomplish it?
How did I feel when I accomplished it?
Am I willing to honor this commitment for another month based on how I felt when I accomplished it?
Is there opportunity to create deeper commitment or discipline?

Where did I struggle to accomplish a goal that I had set in January?
Why did I struggle?
Was I really committed to the goal in the first place?
What would my life be like if I continue to choose to not accomplish this goal?
What do I need to think and feel in order to get back on track with this goal?

As I think through the questions and formulate my answers, I do so without judgement about myself and let go of any old negative stories about my lack of follow-thru, because I know they won’t help me. If I fell short in goal-setting in the past, I become curious about why, and I don’t beat myself up about it. What good would that do? Beating myself up never motivates me to take different action going forward. So, I keep asking myself curiosity questions while withholding judgement, so that I can learn about myself and most importantly, why, when and how I get the results I want. How do I then apply those learnings to commitments where I did not meet my own expectations? The answers to those questions, become the motivation that drives my focus for February, because I am committed to understand how and why I do what I do, and I am disciplined in following through on the commitments that I am truly invested in. In February, I am choosing compassion and curiosity for myself over judgement and mis-aligned expectation.

What will you choose?

What does commitment and discipline in February look like for you?