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Push Pause, Not Repeat

I like to end the holiday break with 1000 pieces of 1/2" by 1/2" cardboard lying on the dining room table calling my name.  The challenge of fitting oddly shaped pieces together into a work of art is the kind of demand my heart loves to indulge.  I’ll admit, it’s not for everyone.  This year, I tackled a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  Most 1000 piece puzzles are slapped together in a weekend.  Perhaps 2000 pieces will take two.  Not so fast.  This delightful snowing scene where the sky and snow covered ground use the same shades and the pieces are very nearly all the same shape has thrown me a curve ball.  What used to be a thrill and even a race, is starting to feel laborious. The old way of getting it done is not working.  The back up systems I resort to when it’s getting difficult are not bringing it together.  And yet, I continue to stand there doing the same thing in the same way.  The only difference, I feel frustration instead of delight.  


When we keep doing it the same old way, we keep getting the same old results.  It may sound like, "Credit card debt like this is normal."  "You can’t control teenagers these days."  "I have to work these long hours to get ahead."  "I need these to help me relax." Moving forward involves finding out why things aren’t working and discovering new ways to approach it.

When my extended family got together to celebrate Christmas, we played a raucous game of charades.  My very talkative niece kept repeating the same gesture to her team until her brother-in-law said, “That’s not working, we’re not getting it.  Move on to something else.”  And then she repeated it a few more times.  We love to do what we know isn’t working.  Maybe we think something even worse will happen if we stop our current action.  Stopping the repeating cycles and the recurring hang ups, starts with simply looking at the obstacle in a different light.

What do you need to push pause on instead of repeat?

Who's Responsible for This?

Super Tuesday is over.  Regardless of your party alignment or where your favorite candidate has landed, you are probably feeling a great deal of angst over the way this political season is shaking out.  We’ve never experienced anything quite like this before in American history.  

Many of us would like to suggest that all blaming, complaining, and name calling cease, because from where we sit, it is taking us no where. (I realize there is much more that should cease in the political race.  But, for now, let’s stick to that train of thought.)  Here’s what we are missing:  we blame, complain, name call regularly and that’s okay with us.  We even model it to our children.  Are you thinking right now, “I’ve never blamed anyone for any circumstance in my life.  I’ve never complained about anything.  My children have never heard me blame them or their teacher or their coach . . .”  Are you starting to see the picture?  The truth is if we want this kind of behavior to stop, then the buck stops here.  If we want integrity and good character to be front and center on our national stage than it needs to be front and center in our homes, our businesses, our civic clubs and our communities.  

You are 100% responsible for your life. 

Start acting like it today.  Give up all your excuses, all your victim stories, all the reasons why you can’t and why you haven’t and all your blaming of circumstances.  The myth is that the circumstance is equal to the outcome.  Here’s the problem, that equation is missing one piece, your reaction.  The equation is actually: the circumstance or event plus your reaction to it equals the outcome.  (E+R=O:  Event + Response = Outcome)    In my twenties, I responded repeatedly over the course of a decade to a difficult relationship with bitterness, negativity and anger.  With the help of a gifted mentor, I moved from poor responses to good responses.  The bad relationship didn’t change but the outcome changed completely — meaning I was no longer bitter because I began to respond differently.  If you want the outcome in your life to change, it is your response that must change.  You are not trapped by your circumstances but you can be trapped by your response to them.  From this point forward, choose to act as if you are 100% responsible for the outcomes in your life.  

If you don’t like the outcome you are getting, you can blame the event for your lack of results — the weather, the economy, the administration, the bosses’ attitude, lack of money.   Certainly these do exist, but if these were the deciding factors, how does anyone accomplish anything? Many people overcome these factors.  It is not the circumstance that is to blame.  You see we ignore truth, fail to learn new skills, waste time on the trivial, engage in gossip, eat unhealthy food, spend money we do not have, and then wonder why things aren’t working for us.

In the 1800s there was a man who experienced a business failure, the loss of his fiancé, a nervous breakdown, and was defeated a dozen times when he ran for public office.  Wouldn’t you say that the deck was stacked against him?  Eventually he was elected president and set in motion the freedom of American slaves.  Lincoln demonstrates that

it’s our response to the circumstances that changes the outcome.

In the wave following Super Tuesday, the best decision each of us can make is to change our responses to the way things are in our lives.  Change your thinking, your communication, your behavior.  We all have times when we get stuck in automatic or routine responses.  Like a reflex, we allow our minds to paint pictures of doom and gloom, or we respond to our children with disregard, or we react to our boss with disrespect.  Everything we think, say and do need to become intentional.  There is no time like the present!

What can you start responding differently to today?


Have you ever considered the idea that we are responsible for our own experiences?