Pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio and you will hear people bemoaning or having an issue with something from immigrants taking British jobs, kids getting crappy eduction, CEOs being overpaid, the environment getting ruined faster than we can say – pass me another cold Diet Coke and so on and so on. Go down to a local pub and eavesdrop on a conversation and you’re bound to hear about the demanding girlfriend, horrible boss, really boring project, unreasonable neighbour and the price of everything going up and up except the wages intermixed with constructive interludes of good mates asking “Who’d like another round, I’m going to the bar?”.
We’ve all been there. Life can at times seem like a giant waste of time. Our needs being not met! People, events, things being disappointing. A feeling of quiet apathy settling in or blame!
To reconcile the negative emotions, we may apply a useful classification that might take the form of “total waste of time”, “never again”, “boring”, “not my fault!” and so on. Think about it. Over the last few days, how many times did you comment on something that delighted or excited you? More often than not, we tend to talk about things as not being good enough. Our external standards are always much higher than those we live by. In so doing, it is easy to add to the negativity that is drowning us at work, in our relationships and communities.
Hmmm….this is making for a pretty miserable world you might think! That’s right! At best, it might be a world with the majority of us complaining about something or criticising something inviting others to join us. “Oh, your boss is bad but you should hear about mine!”.
Ok. Time to get a refill on those drinks you might think!
What if instead of tolerating this negativity or contributing to it, you demanded more from yourself? That’s right! Not others! You. What if you asked yourself how are you helping to make things go right? The answer might surprise you. Often we’re not helping things at all. In fact more often than not, we are making it worse.
Think about the last relationship you might have had that didn’t work out at work or in your personal life. Did you spend more time making it go right or did you focus on what was wrong or what you thought was wrong? Our minds can’t help but prove us right. Whatever you think, you are right! If you think your boss is unreasonable, then so they will be in your eyes. If you think you are not good enough, so you are!
So switch it around. How are you helping your boss trust you? What are you doing to convince yourself that you are good enough? What are you doing to deserve the love you are entitled to from your partner? How are you helping things go right?
It’s not easy to do! A lot of funny inner voices are likely to appear when you first try. Pride for example might raise its head saying something like “but if you give in now, this other person will just take advantage of you“, or perhaps your ego awakes pronouncing “I’m way too good for this!”, “Who does (s)he think (s)he is to do this to me?!”. Perhaps the voice of resignation or defeat will chime in saying “It’s a waste of time, things will never change.”
If you think about it, the number of objections you will have to conquer before you do something productive (create a positive change) is massive. You may find you are simply not up to the task! These voices are very seductive. They also offer an easy way out. But easy doesn’t necessarily mean good. If you give in, you are likely going to make excuses, give up, disengage, withdraw or take action that ultimately will never make things better. Instead, you will create the very thing you didn’t want. Yep! This is not easy. In fact, to help things to right can appear herculean.
So, the quickest way out of this horrible labyrinth of helping things go wrong is to ask yourself a simple but powerful question: “What am I doing to help things go right?” and challenge yourself to change and do better!
If you’re at a boring party – do something to make it fun for you and others!
If you’re getting criticism – ask yourself what’s valid and fix it and thank the courageous soul for caring enough about you to voice it!
If you’re at a workshop that is dull – invite a change instead of working your e-mail.
If you’re in a job that’s boring you – speak out, challenge, seek interest or quit.
And if you messed up – own up, we are only human.
In other words take constructive action instead of letting things remain bad.
We are all change makers on a different scale. The world is ours to shape into what we want it to look and feel like and we have individual and collective responsibility for it. Some of us are working on bringing change in our families, communities, teams, organisation or in the world.
However big or small the undertaking, all change starts within you. Change how you show up and you stand a chance at creating the change you want to see. Go on! Help things go right!