Louise Thompson: Try a new way and make life easier
I’m writing this to y’all on a plane down to glorious Queenstown. We are completely enveloped in white cloud, and I’m waiting for the wine to make its way round, so this seems as good a distraction as any. I hope you can while away the flight with me, at least until the pinot noir appears.
A funny thing just happened in the airport. I followed a gaggle of American senior citizens through security. They were all geared up to the max in brightly coloured puffa jackets and some very snappy spectacles, on some kind of group jaunt. One of their number was not wheeling the standard issue wheelie cabin bag behind her.
She had an old, obviously much-loved, duffel bag. Clearly this bag was way too heavy for her (although surely below the 7kg cabin bag allowance) because, instead of carrying it over her shoulder or gripping it by the handles as you would expect, she was dragging it along behind her for a few yards, and then ... whizz ... thump ... hefting it forwards in front of her by the shoulder strap for another few yards. Seemed an extraordinary amount of effort rather than carrying it.
Draggggg ... hoist ... whoosh ...thump ... draggggg ... hoist ... whoosh... thump. Gotta be honest with you, it was quite odd. I was not the only one thinking this, it would seem, as one of her trusty travel companions gliding along with shiny wheelie cases asked, “Dianne … what’s with the bag?”
Dianne then proceeded to tell an elaborate story about the bag being her aunt’s, 30 years old, and how it was just her favourite thing to travel with. “Riiiiight” said her silver-haired wheelie friend as she disguised her raised eyebrows and slowed her pace.
I asked Dianne whether she might like a hand with her bag, and was cheerfully declined, so finding the draggggg ... hoist ... whoosh ... thump thing so maddeningly slow to walk behind (I am not nicknamed The English Impatient for nothing), I scooted past, and settled myself at the gate. When Team Snappy Specs all finally arrived they took seats.
No sooner had they touched down, when — of course — we had to move gates. A whole plane load en masse, it was obviously slow, and ... draggggg ... hoist ... whoosh ... thump — and a few muttered apologies as another passenger was hit in the back of the legs.
“Just give it up Dianne — get a new bag!” I could hear one of her friends mutter. She actually clocked me in the back of the legs as we were boarding, but only moments later as we settled into our seats I could hear her muttering “But I just love it, it’s just so convenient, it’s what I’ve always used.” I have to say a part of me actually admires Dianne’s unwavering commitment to making her life harder than it needs to be in the face of so much well-meaning opposition.
Here’s the thing. We all kind of do this. Not with the bag, obviously, otherwise airports around the word would be full of the sound of draggggg ... hoist ... whoosh ... thump and “Give it up for crissakes Dianne”, but certain ways of doing things that don’t actually work that well for us anymore (if in fact they ever did).
We have just got so used to doing it that way, that we don’t look up high enough to consider there might be a newer, fresher, more effective way of going about things. We just do what we have always done, because it’s what we have always done.
Just this very week in my coaching room I had the pleasure of a working with a wonderful woman who has battled with her weight all her adult life. She has dedicatedly deprived her body with every diet that has ever been invented, only to gain back the weight — plus a little extra — every dispiriting time.
Finally, after ending her search for the magic bullet diet of deprivation and learning to work with her body, embracing coaching principles of intuitive eating and dialling down emotional eating, the weight is slowly starting to come off. And stay off. Working with her body rather than fighting it is a complete 180 on how she has been doing it for years — and guess what — it’s a better way, and it’s working.
Another smart client has had a fractious relationship with certain family members for years, laced with sibling rivalry that has ebbed over into their fifth decade. Interactions unwittingly but consistently conducted with an intention to grab attention, seek approval and reinforce equality and validation have led to disconnected and unfulfilling bonds.
This has been his mode of operation forever, and has never had the outcome he wants. Doing a 180 last weekend left him astonished — turning up with the energy of wanting nothing, not even approval, and not trying to engineer those sort of conversations but simply to listen and to give. Give time. Give energy. Give attention. Give compliments. Give space.
“We had the most connected time we have had in more years than I can remember. My dad actually offered to come and take ME for lunch! He hasn’t said that in a decade!” He switched from always trying to get something in each interaction, to giving without expectation — and found he got far more in return than he has in years.
We can get stuck in some really outdated ways of approaching certain tasks, people, relationships and situations. MO’s that might have worked once, but no longer serve. If it’s not really working, or it’s slowing you down, even if it’s what you’ve always done, don’t be afraid to Give It Up.
Through habit we sometimes make life harder for ourselves than it needs to be. Consign the old approach to a nostalgia shelf and update the way you address this particular situation. There might be a way of approaching things that is faster, easier, more efficient, more fun — and actually gets you the outcome you want. Sometimes, it’s good to just admit defeat. Give It Up, Dianne, and try a new way.
Through her online Happiness programme “Wellbeing Warriors”, life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at louisethompson.com and find more from Louise at bite.co.nz/wellbeing