A friend who was travelling through Paris on his way home to Germany mentioned that his neighbor would be making dinner for him when he got back that evening. I congratulated him on having such a nice neighbor, and he chuckled before explaining that he had simply called her earlier in the day to say that his fridge was empty, his apartment cold, and to ask whether she would be willing to share her dinner with him!
She was only too happy to help out.
How many times have you found out after the fact that someone could have used your help, but didn’t ask? How often have you said something like: «I would have picked you up!» or «why didn’t you tell me?» or «why didn’t you call – I would have done it with pleasure!»
In such circumstances we often feel cheated, that it’s a pity that our friends don’t reach out to ask for our help. On the other hand very often we don’t ask for help ourselves, as we prefer not to ‘bother’ someone.
How about if you dared to ask? Rather than killing two birds with one stone, you might just make TWO people happy with one request.
Bucephale, the horse of Alexander the Great, initially seemed to be untamable. Not even the best horsemen in the realm could mount him.
Alexander wanted to understand the reason why the animal was so skittish, and – after studying his movements – realized that Buchephale was simply scared of his own shadow. When he saw his shadow he’d try to get away from it, but of course the shadow moved with him and scared him even more.
Alexander’s solution? He turned Bucephale’s head to face towards the sun so his shadow was behind him, out of sight, and he was then was able to train him without risking life and limb.
«Don’t be scared» is useless advice, particularly if you haven’t found and addressed the origin of the fear. If that is the case, even well-intended encouragements won’t help.
And you? Have you given yourself space to look closely at what is really happening when you get scared, to find the shadows behind your fears?
First, a confession: I am a lousy dancer and I have always hated the idea that anyone might be watching on the rare occasions that I do get up to dance.
Once people have had enough to drink that they are wanting to get up and dance, I tend to disappear discreetly. No hard feelings, it is just not my thing.
But last weekend we celebrated the birthday of a friend. He had spent several weeks creating an absolutely irresistible playlist for the party, and it was so irresistible that I found myself – almost against my own will – cutting shapes on the dance floor.
After some initial trepidation, little by little I started to let go. After all – who cares what it looks like! I just closed my eyes and moved with the music … Fabulous! At least until I realized it was 4 am in the morning. WOW.
My thighs hurt a bit the next day, but it was definitely a new victory over the eternal block to enjoyment that is my inner dialogue around « what might people think? », which – in reality – is just a figment of my own imagination. The odd thing is that no one is actually watching us dance, if they are on the dance floor they are mostly worried about how they look. And those watching from the sidelines? Well, they are watching from the sidelines, God bless them.
And you? On which dance floor would you like to get up and express yourself?
Up until about 20 years ago I always put sugar in my coffee. Then, one day I noticed my manager grimacing, and asked why he was looking so disgusted. Apparently he had mistakenly had a sip of a coffee with sugar and he was not happy about it: « You can’t even taste the coffee with all that sweetness! » he complained.
Intrigued by his tirade, I decided to try my coffee without sugar. On day one I thought it was simply awful. On the second day I detected some new tastes that had previously been masked by the sugar. After a few days I realized that I was actually finally able to appreciate the coffee on its own merits. I’ve not looked back.
Recently, I finally did the same thing with tea.
Now, what applies to coffee and tea also applies to other things. Learning for instance. The first attempt at learning something new is often discouraging, and you are tempted to give up. The second time around it seems more attractive – but it’s still an effort. Only once you’ve given something a few tries do the benefits become truly clear, and then a new habit can start to form.
So, what have you given up lately that really deserved a second and third attempt?
Recently, several people have thanked me for simply being in their lives. In each case I was surprised and a bit embarrassed to hear it, as I don’t have the impression that I am doing anything particulularly special for them. For one of them I am a coach, for the other a friend that listens and for the third I’m a matrimonial advisor. For all of them I’m a distributor of big hugs.
The common denominator of everything I do ? I thoroughly enjoy doing it ! I love the fact that somebody feels reassured because I listen without judging. I’m thrilled when someone takes off to new horizons thanks to my coaching. And – above all – I love offering big hugs to those in my life.
I don’t feel like any of this is a special effort, I am just being myself. I have stopped worrying about what others might think and simply follow my instinct. I hug people when I have the urge to do so, and I say « I love you » when feel it’s the right thing to do.
It’s a lovely paradox that when I am not trying to be anything special, and allow myself to simply be « just myself », I end up being very special for those in my life.
And you? When would it be helpful to follow your instinct, to be more of yourself – and therefore at your best?