I recently started reading a book beginning at chapter 9 simply because that’s the chapter I was most interested in. Who says I have to start at chapter one? That may seem insignificant to you, but if you think about it, it’s the symbolism behind it. We get so caught up in doing certain things only because society or even worse, “The Jones’s”, say we have to. Who came up with this idea that we “have to” do things a certain way? Have you ever asked why you should do a certain thing only to be told because that’s the way we’ve always done it?
Doing things the way they’ve always been done sets an expectation. Unfortunately, that expectation is not even based on reality. The reality is we don’t need any more expectations to overwhelm us and then make us feel stressed when we don’t meet them. In coaching, we talk about this from the perspective of having an internal or external focus. An internal focus means you can be happy and content despite the chaos going on around you.
Most people, however, are externally focused.
Externally focused means that you allow your circumstances to determine how you feel, perform, or relate to others. For example, have you ever been to a party, cheated on your diet, and then said, “there were just too many temptations, I couldn’t help myself!” That is an external focus, allowing your environment to dictate your behavior. The person who is internally focused would have adhered to their diet regardless of the buttercream cupcakes with the pink confetti.
Which are you? Internally or externally focused?
I’ll admit that my nature is to be externally focused. So I have to work to switch to an internal focus. And it’s work! Just like any muscle though, it gets stronger over time.
You can do the same. Pay attention the next time you get annoyed because your husband pissed you off, or someone cut you off on the interstate, or took “your” parking spot for crying out loud!
As my mother would say, don’t let other people steal your joy. Shift to an internal focus and start asking, “Who says!?”
Photo credit: Suzanne Le Stage (I was speaking in the beautiful city of Kelowna, BC Canada)