Are you feeling in a rut right now whereby no matter what you do, everyone else seems to be rushing by? It happens when you’ve had a run of bad luck – the type that Murphy (whoever he once was) knows all about. Things get to a point in one’s life when you feel everyone’s blind or deaf to what you’re experiencing.
Has it occurred to you that the problem here is you? You might have self-imposed blinkers (which we usually deploy for finely trained racehorses) that you are unable to make rational assessments and actions on your working style, your career, your projects or your relationships? It’s interesting how when things go very badly, we do sometimes forget our ability to see what actually may be going on in our lives. Or how, with a determined switch in our habitual behaviours, we might start to improve our fortunes once more.
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Blinkers and blinders are often used interchangeably but I think of blinkers as keeping some of the forward path visible whereas blinders obscure everything. Luckily blinkers and blinders can be removed. This moment of realisation could actually signify an opportunity to “re-set” old patterns of thought! Here is a chance to CHOOSE to remove the blinkers and blinders you’ve unwittingly adopted and try some new approaches.
It all looks bad vs I see opportunity
It all looks bad – yes, it probably does. Maybe you’ve got family troubles, or your teenage daughter is mouthy and rolling her eyes at everything you say, or you’re facing major decisions concerning your parents’ future care … the list goes on.
Maybe your work seems to be jostling with incompatible personalities, and you’re constantly being passed over for the stupidest of reasons.
What can you do? You can affirm: “I see opportunity”. How? You’re wondering. Start informing yourself about the dilemma at hand: teenagers, aged health, new industries, public seminars. Feed yourself with as much material as you are prepared to digest. Talk to sympathetic colleagues and friends and be ready to mull over what they suggest. Be open to ideas, even if they are confronting, and use this time to listen, not to moan. By being rigid about the possibilities, you foreclose what could have been a golden shaft of sunlight in your stormy life. The slightest shift in your circumstances can bring about untold change for the better.
Nobody cares vs I will make a difference
Nobody cares- we’ve all had those days. It’s not just one person turning their back on you, but a spate of them, one after the other; even people you thought were friends and sympathisers, not returning calls or emails, or being perfunctory when they do. You pretend it doesn’t matter but it does upset you. Stop focusing on that trigger, on them and turn back to you. “No – I will make a difference“. That’s right. The change starts with you. And when you choose to help others and do something that makes a difference to the world or even to one individual … you will start to feel alive again.
And what of those people who don’t recognise what you have to offer? Leave them behind for now, and try for some new contacts. It’s what sales people do for a living, after all – they don’t crumple just because a prospect showed them the door. That person who is rude or dismissive to you may actually be doing you a big favour – because you then turn in another direction, which could prove exciting, challenging or even rewarding. You are your own and sometimes only best cheerleader.
If nothing is going right for you, make some luck or provide assistance for someone else who needs it just as much as you do. It’s the old “pay it forward” principle, but it works. This often has the effect of starting the stubborn wheels in your own life turning once again.
It’s too hard vs I am ready for a challenge
It’s too hard – that’s a familiar refrain, and understandable if you feel exhausted by what you already contend with. This last one is for those who’ve endured months of difficulty. The best analogy for this state of mind is when you’re doing one of those “feel the burn” running challenges. You’re all but ready to flop onto the ground; it hu-u-u-rts. Slow down a bit, breathe steadily and deeply, do something that gives you that bit of “energy”. Galvanise yourself: “I am ready for the challenge“. Start to feel the old “up and at ‘em” juices and enjoy the sensation, exactly like those fitness boxers in the parks. They’re pummelling away for dear life. The movements cause the brain and endorphins to start jogging. You sweat, you puff, but suddenly the goal is in sight once. Off you go!
Before you know it, the metaphorical blinkers and blinders have fallen away, and there’s magical sights before you once more.
There is a constructive use of blinkers. Put them on for 100% task focus – great idea when on the final path heading to the finishline. Then open your eyes and mind to the full view of your world.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runsSeven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.