Are you old enough to remember this game?
One kid stands away from the group with their back to their friends and becomes the Mother or Father (Parent in Charge).
The others ask questions like “Mother May I take 5 giant steps forward?” Or “Father, may I run for 2 seconds?”
To which the PIC either says “yes you may” or “no you may not, you may take 2 giant steps backward”.
The goal is to get to the Parent as quickly as possible so as to become the PIC.
One thing about this game that I find interesting is how much each of the kids playing wants to be the Parent in Charge.
When we are kids we think that other people, like our parents, teachers, older siblings, principals, older kids on the bus, bus drivers, and what seems like anyone else who thinks they are the “boss” of us, have The Power.
Games like “Mother May I?” gave us moments to practice having The Power over our friends and neighbors and cousins.
What happens when we grow up though?
Who is in charge then?
For some of us it sure does seem like we can spin our wheels looking for someone (besides ourselves) to give us permission to do what we want to do.
Now some of us don’t seem to have any trouble being like the Mother in “Mother May I?”! We are great at bossing around our kids, husbands, and any one else who may (or may not) be looking for some good bossing around 😜
However, we are also looking for a Boss. We have an idea and we immediately look for someone, whether it be a friend, family member, or coworker and we ask them to validate (or give permission for) our idea.
I notice other therapists all the time who get caught up in asking other therapists (myself included) whether they "can" do this or “should” they do that!
Please don’t “should” on yourself, it’s rather messy 😜
My answer when I get questions like “How do you keep it “clean" with insurance companies?” is “Before I answer your question, please keep in mind that I am a Dirty Girl” 😳😬😂
I notice people all of the time who do not trust themselves to make decisions and who seem to constantly be seeking permission from others. Seeing others as having more power or more knowledge or more skills or more _______ (fill in the blank with your insecurity of choice).
Here is what I think is really going on. Anxiety loves an opportunity to be the one in charge.
It’s answer to “Mother May I?” is always “NO”!
So when Anxiety shows up as VOD (remember a few weeks ago when we talked about your Voice of Doubt) or any other form it likes to take (like Imposter or being Sensitive) it convinces you that you are Incompetent, that you must do more to prove yourself worthy, and that your ideas are either dumb or that you must have more training in order to be even considered to know what you are talking about 🙄
Most importantly it convinces you that you don’t have The Power and so you have to listen to Anxiety and shut it down or you have to find someone else with more Power than your Anxiety to reassure you that you have permission to move forward.
Are you starting to see how Fucked Up this way of thinking can be?
OK, maybe "Fucked Up” is a bit harsh here AND it got your attention, didn’t it?
Bottom line , YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOU!
Not your mother or father or principal or boss or kids or best friend or bitchy neighbor or husband or person in the check out line at the grocery store or Me or Anxiety 😳
YOU ARE YOUR OWN BOSS for most of the decisions that are made every day.
Let that sink in for a moment….
Scary ain’t it? 😬
Now don’t go freakin’ out on me here!
I’m not suggesting that you not have a friend, mentor, or even a coach to support you in making big decisions.
I’m not saying that you are no longer allowed to ask your spouse or parents or friends or the person in the check out line at the grocery store (although I would stay away from the bitchy neighbor) for their OPINION.
I AM saying that YOUR OPINION is the one that matters the most and that instead of coming from a “one down” position (assuming that the other person is the one with the power) which leads to “asking permission”, that you approach the other person as an equal and use the information that they share as just data in your research.
This includes your Anxiety.
It is not in charge.
Your Anxiety has an opinion and does sometimes give you signals (rather than just shitty static noise) that may be helpful data in your research.
You are the one in charge and you get to decide!
Do you see how changing the way you think about who has the Power can be so powerful in and of itself?
So, I want to know who you give your power over to AND your plan for taking it back!
Hit reply and tell me who you play Mother May I? with! 😍
So, did you spend the week with your panties in a wad?
With Anxiety spinning the words Purpose and Meaning around in your head like a pair of whirling dervishes?
Then let’s dive back into this idea that Meaning and Purpose can be found in The Little Things…
First a little review: Anxiety is all about worrying and being fearful about the future and it’s Butt Buddy Depression is all about regretting and being fearful of the past.
When we are able to keep that in mind AND put forth the effort to stay in the Present, we are more capable of sorting out this whole Meaning and Purpose thing.
Let me give you an example. I know someone who thinks BIG, like “I’m going to be the next Oprah” BIG. From the outside other people would think that she has her shit together and has this whole plan laid out. You know that whole “….and my five year plan is________ and my 10 year plan is ______”.
Why do we assume she has a “plan” for the future?
Because self doubt tells us that “Everyone Else" has a blueprint that lays out the rest of their successful lives and that we are the only one who has no fucking clue 🙄
So while we are busy shaming ourselves and assuming that “Everyone Else” has a roadmap (or a great app like WAZE) for Pursuing their Purpose and are finding Meaning in every action they take, “Everyone Else” is simply finding meaning in what they do each and every day and following the path that lays a stepping stone in front of them one at a time (without knowing exactly where that path is leading…).
What if (and this is Auntie Anxiety asking, not just plain old Anxiety, so you are required to answer this “what if?” Question 😜) today your purpose is to curl up on the couch with your loved ones and enjoy a movie with them?
What if today your purpose is to bake a favorite recipe and share your bounty with a neighbor?
What if today your purpose is to personally answer an email from a potential client or student?
What if today your purpose is to spend some time in the quiet by yourself?
OK, so here is the quiz (don't freak out, I'm going to give you the answer 😜):
What do all of the above examples have in common?
If your answer is Connection then you get a Gold Star 🌟
Connecting to ourselves and to those around us gives us Meaning and in that Meaning we often find Purpose and sometimes that Purpose does work it’s way into something BIG (like lighting the world on fire or becoming the next Oprah) and sometimes our something BIG is simply relative.
Do you know Susie Williams? Probably not. I don’t know her, but I do know that one day, back in about 1954 she asked her school friend to play tennis with her at her parents country club. Her friend, who loved to play softball, asked “what’s tennis?”
We don’t remember Susie Williams, but I’ll bet you know the name of her friend. Susie was just doing her 11 year old self Thing. She wanted to connect with her friend….Billie Jean….
When we just show up each day, connect with ourselves and with others, and talk back to our Fucking Obnoxious Anxiety and it’s buddy Depression, we find meaning in the Little Things and our Purpose just happens without a whole bunch of fireworks or fanfare.
So we may, one day, find ourselves being the next Oprah AND that journey would be filled with the decisions that we made each day to show up and connect with ourselves and with those around us in Little Ways that we may not recognize as leading to Bigger Things.
Let’s do some math (don't freak out, when I say "Let's" I truly mean "let us" with "us" being the key word....I've done most of the math for you and there is no quiz at the end 😜):
If Louise offers a course that 100 counselors join and if each of those counselors has a caseload of 20 clients per week then Louise is now influencing 2,000 people per week. Keep going and that’s 8,000 people per month and if you want to continue to do the math…have at it 😜
The point is that Louise may eventually end up being the next Oprah, but she started with connecting with one person and then kept going because connecting with that one person by email or by phone or in person made her smile 😊
Let's do some more math:
If Lynn reaches 120 people on her email list with an email about Meaning and Purpose and each of those people shares that email with three of their friends or family then Lynn has now reached almost 500 people. That makes Lynn smile 😊
What makes you smile? Do that….and keep doing it. Leave the judgement about how “small” the thing is or how it may not make any money or how it may not “scale” on the curb.
Do the Little Things and let the Universe sort the rest of it out….
Alright, yes, last week’s email had a few more salty word than usual AND, if you haven’t figured it out already, I use very expressive language to make a point. Last week’s email was super important and so I made my point. (Big shout out to those of you who took some of your precious time and completed my survey! If you shared your contact information, I will be in touch this week 😍😘).
So on to this week’s topic. What I am really wanting to talk to you about is Purpose.
Simple enough word and, yet, I have noticed that when I bring this up with clients (as in “Have you considered what your Purpose may be?”) I get this look.
It’s kind of a “you just backed me into a corner and I am debating whether I am going to hang my head in defeat or fucking attack you and rip your throat out so you never utter that word again” look or, simply, “I think I’m gonna Puke!" 😳
I’m curious (and safely hiding behind my computer screen so if you were to choose the second option, I think I am safe 😜), what comes up for you when you read or hear the word “Purpose”?
In exploring this with clients I have often found that:
1) even professionals who have a lot of schooling, have put in years of hard work, and have “successful” careers under their belts are not clear on their “Purpose” and,,,
2) many folks get hung up on the word as they equate it with a career, achievement, success, and financial gains.
What does it mean to you, Lynn?
When this topic comes up (oh, and it comes up A LOT 😉) we explore how Purpose doesn’t have to be a big, huge “light the world on fire” kind of thing.
The idea of Purpose having to be something “BIG” is overwhelming and your VOD (voice of doubt) will jump right in and tell you how you are not:
Remember that your VOD is driven by Anxiety and Anxiety wants to you to “play it safe”, so of course it will tell you all kinds of shit to keep you stuck where it can keep an eye on you 😜
Here’s the thing Lynn: Purpose can be found in the “little things”.
When we let go of the fear that we are “expected” to be the next Oprah or Steve Jobs (hey, if you end up that famous Lynn I do hope you remember us common folk 😘) then it gets a little easier to find our Purpose in the “little things”, the things that we can do each day that give our lives meaning.
There, I said it, Purpose has to do with Meaning.
Now you have two words to get you panties in a wad about 😝
Alright, so here’s the thing. I could ramble on and on about Purpose this morning AND I’m not going to….yet….
Before I go any deeper into this pretty deep shit around Purpose and Meaning (does Anxiety’s Butt Buddy Depression creep it’s way in when you start ruminating about Meaning?), I’m going to ask you to take some action.
Hit reply and tell me what comes up when you hear the words Purpose or Meaning?
Yep, we are going to be talking about Purpose for a few weeks, so you can choose to speak up and participate in the conversation or you can sit this one out.
The choice is yours 😍😘
(and I will understand either way 😊)
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor