Negative Bias or Wrong Goal?

Currently I am involved in my fourth coaching program.  Yes, my problem is I am addicted to learning.   The program is Positive Psychology and Wellness Coaching, and twice a week we must be a client and a coach.  This means I must come up with a wellness goal two times a week.  I try to change it up, but one I have focused on twice. 

The other day, I chose the goal of wanting to work out more than twice a week.  Generally, I tend to work out only on the days I am off or teleworking, as I seem to find I have more hours in the day.  But squeezing in additional workouts during the week has not been happening.  I thought I would have the consistency to do weights or the thigh master while on group zoom calls, but lost interest. The coach tried to have me explore small areas which I could add small bits of exercise, but with each suggestion offered I quickly responded with a counterargument.  She offered getting up earlier or changing my morning routine, but 4:33 am is my earliest.  Sleep is precious, as is my morning meditation and journaling.  She queried about anytime after work, but I wouldn’t budge.  My biggest conflict is my aging dogs.  

My life currently revolves around work, creativity, and my English Bulldog Puzo, who turned 14 earlier in the week.  This is astounding for this breed, or any breed for that matter.  Overall his health is good, but he walks slower, sleeps more, and is extra needy.  Perhaps we all get like this when we age.  The days I do yoga or pilates at home, I have to ensure he has been walked, fed, and is taking his first nap of the day.  If he wakes up during my flow, cries and growls will repeatedly come out of his mouth.  It’s anything but relaxing.  What follows is my pet mom guilt.  Free time should be spent with these two dogs, which includes Bella, my 12 year old chug.  Guilt prohibits me from working out in the evening, as Puzo’s new bedtime is anywhere between 4:00 -5:00 pm.  

Back to my coaching story, upon processing the session, I apologized for being a “difficult” client.  I didn’t mean to be.  She said, “I guess we need to know what it’s like if we have negativity bias.”  I automatically got defensive, to call me negative seems like blasphemy.  I feel I’m an optimist at heart.  Was I really being negative?  I shared with her, “I guess exercise is something that’s not high on my value list.  The truth is my dogs are my number one priority, I don’t know how long they will be alive for.  So I’m not negotiating that.”  She offered that compassion may have been more beneficial at the moment versus pushing me, and I agreed.

I repeated that conversation in my head later that night.  What went wrong?  I was not agreeable to placating her with physical commitments I would make.  I knew that was inauthentic.  Exercise is not a top value of mine at this moment.  This is not a bad thing.  Society makes us feel we should make it a priority, but the reality is “if everything is a priority, then nothing is.”  I have accepted that right now, my priorities are work, my dogs, and my creativity.  If workouts are squeezed in, they are added bonuses.  Yet, I will not force myself to commit to goals that aren’t truly mine at the moment. 

I am curious for you reading this.  What goals have you set this year or decade that you haven’t achieved?  Upon reflection, are they what you value at this juncture in your life?  Or are these goals simply accepted as ones that you feel you “ought” to do because society expects it of you? 

Drawing Upside Down

This weekend I began an online version of an art class Drawing from the Right Side of Your Brain.   I have heard accolades about this book and class for years, and I was determined to take the course (even it was in the confines of my own home).  One of the initial homework assignments was to draw a Picasso drawing upside down.  This may sound preposterous to the average person, but there are reason behind these odd instructions.  The instructor noted that many of us tend to use the left of our brain more predominantly, which is more verbal, logical, and sequential.  Yet what drawing and art require of us is to use the right side of our brain, which is the creative and free flowing side.  When we draw for example lips, we draw what we think lips should look like versus what we are actually seeing.  Naming an object actually prohibits our experience of it.  Therefore, to draw an image upside down, we learn to draw what it is front of us versus our perception of what it must be.  This concept reminded me of aspects I have heard authors and speakers Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti discuss before.  

            Spiritual teacher Adyashanti once shared on an interview with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday the following quote: “Once you give a bird name. You no longer see the bird. Try to go through life without naming things. That brings the wonder back. You’re living in abstraction. No longer an intimate experience with life. That’s what we crave.  An intimate experience with existence…That’s what attracts us to the innocence of children. They feel the wonder of the world. They know they don’t know. Adults, we think we know. Just because we can call something a tree doesn’t mean we know what it is. Our labels can disconnect us from the intimate experience of existence.”

            I want to encourage you to reflect on how your naming of an object impacts your relationship to that.  This could be your expectation of what meditation looks like, what a relationship is, love is, one’s purpose, the concept of beauty, and numerous other possibilities.  Our expectations cloud our perceptions.  Try to see something for what it truly is.  Not what the label defines it as.  Maybe even try taking an art class where one draws from the right side of one’s brain. 

For More information on the book and course, check out https://www.drawright.com , Author and Instructor Betty Edwards.