Happy St.Patrick’s Day! This morning, I woke up, jumped on the treadmill and thought about the story of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. And it made me think, “what are the snakes in your life?”
What are the snakes in your business? What are the mental snakes? The physical snakes and the emotional snakes? And what can we do to drive them out as quickly as possible?
So our topic today is dealing with snakes!
Let’s start with the mental snakes. Anxiety, fear, doubt, concerns over things over which we have no control. Worrying about people. Worrying about things. Worrying about circumstances, finances, health, family.
Worrying about things that could go wrong in our businesses. Worrying about how to keep things going right. Worrying about our own happiness, and other people’s happiness. Fighting feelings that we can’t keep all the balls in the air. Ever been there?
We can’t keep everyone happy. We can’t even keep the train of our own lives on track and moving in the right direction most of the time.
It’s a lot of stuff to be concerned about. But we have to realize that all that anxiety, all that fear, all that worry… it’s all internal.
It’s not actually about what’s going on in the outside world. It’s about how we’re processing it internally.
That’s not to say we don’t have to deal with real issues. We do. Every single day.
But, if you want to start driving out snakes, it’s often a good idea to start with the snakes in your own mind.
Recognize that our fears don’t make things better. Our worries don’t make things better. Our anxieties certainly don’t make things better.
In fact, they almost inevitably makes things a lot worse. And not just for ourselves, but often for those around us.
So step one is to identify the snakes that need to be purged from our brains. Write them down and put together a plan for addressing that.
So we started with the mental snakes within us. Now let’s talk about the snakes on the outside.
If I were to say to you, “what are the most obvious snakes?” What are the things around you that help to trigger or cause the fears, anxieties, worries or the stresses you feel — what are they? Who are they? And are they really on the outside? Or is it an internal snake that I’ve failed to fully process?
What I mean is, is it the person, the place, or the circumstance? Or is it the way we think about and respond to those people, places, and circumstances?
Really think that through.
Many people complain a lot about all the external circumstances that are making their lives frustrating, bad, miserable, or even intolerable.
But is it really those outside factors? Or is it the way we internalize and process our thoughts about them?
I don’t know the answer to that question, and I am in no way qualified to answer it for you, which is why I’m asking YOU the question.
Because I think that this is something ONLY you can determine for yourself.
Is this one of those snakes that can be driven out by simply driving out the way you process it in your own brain?
Or is this actually an external snake that needs to be physically driven out of your life?
That’s a big decision. Because sometimes those snakes, whether they’re mental or physical, can take the form of friends, family, bosses, coworkers, or loved ones.
And if the relationship is important or necessary to you, then the focus has to be driving out the snakes, instead of driving out the people, changing the places or altering the circumstances. And the reality of the situation is that it might require quite a bit of each.
So take out a sheet of paper, and draw two lines down the page to break it up into three vertical columns.
In the left column. Write down your list of snakes. All the fears, concerns, people, places, and circumstances that you feel are causing you the most problems.
In fact, you may need more than one sheet of paper to do this. If you’re like me, you may need to go to Staples and get a couple of reams of paper to get them all down, get it out of your brain, and onto the page, where it will seem more manageable.
Once you’ve got all that out in the left column, then review your list.
In the middle column, jot down whether this is an internal problem or an external problem.
Now you need to be really thoughtful about this one, because in a lot of cases, things you think of as an external problem are really internal problems.
This is particularly true when you’re concerned about exterior, and perhaps global forces, that are completely outside of your control or your sphere of influence.
Stephen Covey, in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People described circles of influence.
Inside the circle are the issues you can directly impact – things you can change by your own personal action. And outside the circle are all the things that you have absolutely no control over, whatsoever.
For example, you have no control over other people’s thoughts, other people’s feelings, other people’s beliefs or actions.
So when their thoughts and fears and beliefs and actions bother you — whether it’s a difference of personal opinion, political opinion, business difference or religious differences — recognize that this is almost entirely out of your sphere of influence.
Only they can change their thoughts, beliefs, fears and actions, just as only you can control yours.
No one else can do it for you.
Can other people help? Absolutely. Can you be supportive of them and can they be supportive of you? Yes. But you’re the only one who can do it.
So, as you’re making your way through this list and deciding if a snake you’re trying to drive out is internal or external, recognize that in many cases, it’s going to be an internal issue that you may be mischaracterizing as an external force.
And before you categorize it as an external force, ask yourself if there’s a way you can shift your mindset away from whatever it is that’s bothering you about that person, place or circumstance so the external becomes less of an issue.
What you’ll probably find, if you’re honest with yourself, is that most of what you’ve written down is less about the person, place or circumstance, and more about the way you’ve been processing your thoughts about that thing.
Now, with all that said, there are certain exterior forces, particularly like physical, mental or verbal abuse that may require you to make a physical change in your life.
So in the third column, next to each one, write down the action you need to take to alleviate the problem for yourself and drive that snake out.
Now, in some cases, it may be just a matter of driving thoughts out of your head — particularly if you recognize that the solution is not within your circle of influence.
But if it is within your circle of influence, if there’s a physical action that is within your sphere of influence, that will help you to drive the snake out without harming yourself or another person, then you need to identify that action.
Write it down and get to work on driving that snake out.
In order to drive some of the mental snakes out, Tony Robbins says you need to control two things: your focus and your physiology.
What’s your focus?
If the state of the world is driving you crazy, then turn off the news.
Don’t focus on it.
Some people believe that if they’re watching news programs or commentaries and they agree with the content, that they’re being validated. And if they’re watching news or commentary that they disagree with, they’re being infuriated.
But the truth of the matter is that if you’re concerned about all that stuff, and focused on it, then nearly all of it is going to infuriate you.
Because when you listen to the people you disagree with, it’s probably going to annoy you. And when you listen to the people who you only agree with, you may be even more miserable, because they’re just talking about what a terrible state of affairs you’re living through.
So change your focus. What can you do within your own sphere of influence, starting with yourself?
Can you allow other people to have their own thoughts and feelings without you feeling like you have to object or get in the middle of it?
Because the truth is, you can’t get into the middle of other people’s thoughts or feelings.
You can disagree with them. You can have arguments with them, but only they can change their minds. And only you can change yours.
This doesn’t mean that you have to change to agree with them, but it does mean that you might have to change your focus, so you’re not fixating on the problem.
Imagine you have a fear of spiders, and you see a spider on the floor. The 24 hour news cycles, for many people, is like staring at that spider all day, all night, watching every place it goes, every surface it touches, every little pellet it drops, and every nook and cranny it explores.
For many people, that’s what watching the news is like. It’s the ideal way to make yourself feel helpless, fixated, and sick.
So make the call.
Can you change your focus? Can you get out of that room? Or can you just focus on any other spot in the rest of the room — the 99.98 percent of the room that’s spider-free?
Even when it doesn’t feel like it, there is a lot of good that’s going on in your life, your family, your community and the world. But very little of that is ever going to be reported on TV.
So the question remains… can you change your focus?
The answer is probably yes, but the real question is… will you?
Will you change your focus? Or will you allow yourself to be victimized by your own fixation on all the things, both big and small, that bother you?
The other thing you can do, is to change your physiology.
It could be a matter of standing up, just taking a deep breath, looking at that spider and saying “forget you. I am not going to allow your mere presence in my life to paralyze me, slow me down, or make me cower.”
I’m going to get on with my very best life.
And on you go.
The other option… is you squash that little bugger, or you have someone else squash that little bugger. Get it out of there so you can enjoy your life.
Those are essentially your options.
So we started out this St Patty’s day talking about snakes, and we wrapped up talking about spiders. But if you’re looking for solutions, or at least a way to address the “spiders and snakes” in your life, complete that third column on that sheet.
Determine the actions you’re going to take to reduce or eliminate the impact of outside forces in your life, inside voices in your head, and get started!
Now I talked about quite a few things today that are way outside my wheelhouse. But I hope you found it helpful, anyway. And if you need help growing your sales and profits in your business, be sure to reach out.
If you’d like to schedule a complimentary one-on-one strategy session in which we can examine what’s holding you back in your business, go to www.topsecrets.com/call and we’ll be happy to set it up. That’s topsecrets.com/call.
Here’s to spider and snake-free St. Patrick’s Day.
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