I’m A Sucker for Verbal Hostage Taking.

I’ve noticed in the last several years that I’ve met more and more individuals who love to talk about themselves. They seem mesmerized by what their saying and leave little or no room for a response. One of my acquaintances hardly takes a breath. I’ve often wondered if he carries an oxygen tank in case he runs out of air. He seems to have a tremendous need to inform me of every minute of his day starting with breakfast. The content is often heavy in the area of his work life. Since he’s a musician he wants me to know who he’s playing with , what kind of people have hired him, how long it will take, and how much equipment he has to set up. I have tried to interrupt with even the shortest phrase like “that’s nice”, to no avail. I could and have left the phone for a few minutes to do something around the house, only to return and find that he didn’t even know I was gone.

Another individual I know finds it necessary to inform me of every activity her children are engaged in, what they wore to school and what TV shows they watch. One conversation she had with me was a vivid and detailed description of her latest dental procedure , which was a root canal. She practically had enough information to perform one herself. I literally jumped in at one point and suggested she might want to go to dental school. There was not even a giggle. She actually agreed with me and went on to give me another fifteen minutes on her trip to the supermarket and the vegetables she bought that she read would be good for her brain. I really wanted to respond that perhaps she might consider buying some tape for her mouth, and some cement to fill the hole in her head, but I held back.

Oh, I know I could get off the phone with some lame excuse, but I keep hoping that I might get a chance to respond. Either that or I’m a sucker for verbal hostage taking. I really feel the reason some people do this, is because we’re in a culture where being busy is more valuable than having deep, meaningful conversations. They have forgotten how to listen or how to engage the listener.

Maybe the next time you talk to someone, you should periodically say “what do you think”. If they don’t answer you know their probably vacuuming or cleaning the toilet.

Changing behaviors for the New Year

Every year at this time I am asked about what resolutions I intend to make for the new year.

I, like many of you, have promised myself that I “Must” change certain behaviors that are not indigenous to a happy, healthy life many times over the years. Unfortunately the word “must” imposes a boot camp mentality that feels like a forced march.

Changing our behavior is one of the hardest things we can choose to do. Our patterns are so ingrained that it takes a jackhammer to loosen them. Personal transformation isn’t concrete; rather, it’s a culmination of many smaller changes. You didn’t gain weight , become unfit, or get stressed out overnight. You did it over a period of time. Take that into consideration, and try to reverse the process in the same way you created the problem.

The 21st century has produced a plethora of marketing tools that promise the consumer fast and easy ways to change behaviors, and a lot of people have bought into it. But in order to have lasting results,” slow and easy” wins the race. One of the wisest ways to transition from where you are to where you want to be is to do it in baby steps. Every small step you take towards becoming healthier and more fit is one that leads you towards your goal. When you follow this mind-set, you’ll have a much greater chance of reaching your goals.

Here are five benefits to taking baby steps:

1. Make gradual changes to allow your underlying beliefs to shift with you. Remember everyone lives with thinking models that oppose one another. I call it “twisted Sister and the Fairy Godmother.” Your fairy godmother wants the best for you, but your twisted sister is always there to give you a good dose of fear and reasons why you shouldn’t rock the boat. But every small action you take encourages you to become stronger.

2. Take small steps to give the people around you a chance to adjust.

3. Don’t say too much about what your plans are for change. You don’t want people saying, “Oh I’ve heard that before”.

4. Make it a game. Becoming healthy and happy doesn’t have to become an internal war. Try to make it fun.

5. Don’t focus on past failures and what might not happen. It only creates more of the same. Write down what you want and how it will manifest a better life; see it in your mind’s eye; and practice, practice, practice. Eventually your behavior will catch up.
Most importantly enjoy the process.