Stop Talking and Take Off the Rose-Colored Glass Already! Lab Rats Week 3

rnjtc1 on flickr.comWe live in a positivity addiction society. Self-development types (including me) say: “fake it until you make it” meaning that we should pretend to be happy until we actually believe that we are.

If, however, you don’t know your dreams and have no direction, this false positivity creates a world where you talk instead of do and wander around wearing rose-colored glasses with a slightly stupid smile on your face.

Life Without Talking

All of the Lab Rats talk too much (although Lizzie only talks to herself). They all have ideas that they discuss and plan but do very little to implement.

For example, Alessio wants to start a blog and he talks about blogging all the time, but he doesn’t actually do anything about it. He knows the small steps he could take to get the blogging going, but he doesn’t and is stuck in the talking mode.

Lizzie (to herself) talks about all the things she doesn’t get around to: taxes, weight loss, puppy training, sleeping. In her case the talking happens because she puts heavy expectations on herself, expecting perfection right away and procrastinates getting started because (of course) perfection isn’t possible.

Horatio’s overtalking problem is more general. He knows exactly what he could be doing to move forward all the things he talks about, but he doesn’t actually move forward. For Horatio this block may come from the major block in his professional life – how can he move anything forward if the one of the most important parts of his life is completely stagnant?

And for Wendee it comes down to attitude. She doesn’t do things because she harbors negative thoughts and feelings about many things in her life including her art, her desire to go back to school, her writing abilities.

In one of my favourite fantasy books, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, the main character, Cimorene finds herself about to be married off to a Prince she can’t stand. Eventually she finds herself in a conversation with a talking frog who asks her what she was going to do about the situation. Cimorene tells him about all the people she’s talked to and complained to. He replies with:

“I didn’t ask you what you’d said about it. I asked what you’re going to do. Nine times out of ten, talking is a way of avoiding doing things.”

The Lab Rats now know what they’re avoiding doing. How about you?

Life Without The Rose-Colored Glasses

As I mentioned before, we live in a positivity-obsessed world. In some ways it’s a good thing – much better to look for the good in people and situations than the bad, but when taken to the extreme it means trying to move forward while wearing rose-colored glasses, not seeing the world as it really is. When that happens we refuse to acknowledge the obstacles to progress and then wonder why nothing happens.

When the Lab Rats took off their rose-colored glasses they admitted to some pretty bleak situations with families that are indifferent or downright unsupportive, complicated romantic relationships, fear and a lack of trust in the possibility of a secure financial future doing something they enjoy, and a general disregard for physical fitness (although some of the Lab Rats are beginning to make an effort on that front).

A pretty harsh lesson hides in what the Lab Rats discovered when they took off the reality-altering glasses: you can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy.

I don’t mean we can’t get support from others or ask for help. I mean we are the only person who can make us happy. We choose to accept negativity from those around us. We choose to be judged by others (I’m big-time guilty of this one). We (for the most part) choose our work situations (often based on our desires to not disappoint others). And we choose what level of fitness we live with on a daily basis (notice I don’t say we choose what level of health because often illness is not a choice).

By actually looking at the world clearly, the Lab Rats can begin to make decisions based on what they want rather than what others want and can see where they are making assumptions that just aren’t true.

Measuring Progress

Last week the Lab Rats learned to pay attention to their fear and to begin to find ways to use their fear to move themselves forward. This week they’ve done the same with the reasons and excuses for not making choices and taking charge of their lives. By being aware of these various excuses they can derail negative thinking and keep false positivity at bay.

And how do they do that? By deciding what they want out of life, regardless of what others think and finding small steps to pursue.

Which is what we get into next week: defining their dreams.

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15 thoughts on “Stop Talking and Take Off the Rose-Colored Glass Already! Lab Rats Week 3

  1. Alessio says:

    The penny actually dropped a while ago for me, when I was really unhappy about work and wanted my ‘partners/bosses’ to do something about it for me. I pictured the whole scene, me losing my temper and getting upset. But then I pictured their reaction. Slightly bemused, but unable to do anything for me.

    That’s when I understood. They’re not going to make me happy, no one is. Only I can. And that is so empowering. My future is in my hands, and only I can make it happen.

  2. AM says:

    Excellent post. I’ve noticed that many people act as if talking about something and doing something are equivalent. Clearly, they’re not. Also, in my fiction writing experience, I’ve found that talking about a story idea drains the life right out of it, so now I refuse to talk about any project I’m working on until after it’s finished. When I carried this lesson over into other areas of my life, I found that energy I used to waste talking was much more productive when I used it for action instead.

  3. This really resonated with me. I think I went into my business with the rosiest-colored glasses imaginable, and failed to plan for the most logical thing in the world: for a business to take at least a year to pick up.

    In terms of talking about stuff without actually doing it, I’ve been muttering to myself lately about having too much on my plate and needing to take a day or so to just regroup. You’ve effectively challenged me to do that, so now I’m going to schedule some time for sitting, thinking and planning. Thank you, Alex.
    .-= Catherine Cantieri, Sorted´s last blog ..Last day to register for the Paper Ninja Workshop! =-.

  4. Deb Owen says:

    Excellent post! I see this often as well. There is a great deal of literature out there that will lead people to sit and think about their goals and dreams – and to change their thinking. That’s great, as long as they take action.

    But taking that honest look at one’s life and getting to the point where we’re not waiting to be rescued is uncomfortable. The good news is that as people do take the time to truly examine their lives and then take actions to go in the direction they desire — it really does get better. 😉

    All the best!
    deb
    .-= Deb Owen´s last blog ..common blocks to creativity (and life) =-.

  5. Eliza says:

    I am really awful at having any patience with this. Go ahead and talk, and I will listen. And I will listen. And … I’ll stop listening. As soon as it becomes obvious there are plans for follow up action, I totally tune out.

    Now, if there is a glimmer of follow up action, I’ll provide all the encouragement and support in the world.

    I do realize that every comes to the place of action at their own pace. I generally don’t complain until I am almost at the point of taking action. I am just talking to give myself that extra push I need. So, I have to remeind myself that other people like to talk for a longer period of time.

    But, like I said, then I want to see some ‘pee or get off the pot’ action 🙂
    .-= Eliza´s last blog ..Running after forty? Absolutely! =-.

  6. This was SUCH an interesting exercise. I go to the opposite extreme with friends and loved ones–I want to dazzle them all with a fait accompli instead of letting them in on something that I might fail at. I’m all for listening to friends talk about their plans, but when it goes on and on and on, and particularly when nothing happens, it makes me crazy. Life is short and so many things are more interesting. I have a friend who wrote a novel–a big, complex thing which is attracting much attention–and never mentioned it to her general circle of friends until it was done. (Our mouths all dropped open. Literally.)

    All of that being said, I spend so much time fleshing out these fantasies of what I might do that it boggles the mind.
    .-= Lab Rat Lizzie´s last blog ..Embracing My Inner Brat =-.

  7. You make some excellent points, as always. We often blame others for our problems when in reality they are the result of choices we’ve made. Sometimes we don’t recognize them as being choices, when in fact we have chosen NOT to make a choice. Does that make sense?
    .-= Janet Barclay´s last blog ..Finding Tweeple in Your Area to Follow =-.

  8. Alex Fayle says:

    @Alessio
    That’s a great realization to make – I used to rely (and still do to some point) on the approval of others to feel happy. And it wasn’t until I started taking responsibility for my own happiness that I discovered it.

    @AM
    I’m the exact same way – if I talk too much about my plans I don’t do anything because my wildly active imagination has already experienced all the highs and lows without having to do any of the work. 😉

    @Catherine
    Yes, at least a year to pick up and at least five to become solid. It’s something most people gloss over, but if you look at most store-front businesses, very few become successful quickly. A friend of mine who owns a pastry shop took ten years to become successful, but now she’s included in magazines all the time and even made it on the Martha Stewart Show when Martha just got out of prison. So all the hard work does pay off.

    @Deb
    I’ve noticed that with a lot of counselling programs – they never end with “yes, and what are you going to DO about it?” – clients just seem to talk endlessly about their lives.

    @Eliza
    We are so similar in that (must be the shared genes). 😉

    @Lizzie
    For my move to Europe it was like that for most of the world – a sudden decision that came out of the blue, but it had been percolating through my brain for about six months before making the final decision.

    @Janet
    The last two verses of “On the Steps of the Palace” in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods is all about that (where Cindarella’s trying to decide what to do after getting stuck in tar on the steps of the palace while running away at midnight):

    Better run along home
    And avoid the collision.
    Even though they don’t care,
    You’ll be better of there
    Where there’s nothing to choose,
    So there’s nothing to lose.
    So you pry up your shoes.
    Then from out of the blue,
    And without any guide,
    You know what your decision is,
    Which is not to decide.
    You’ll leave him a clue:
    For example, a shoe.
    And then see what he’ll do.

    Now it’s he and not you
    Who is stuck with a shoe,
    In a stew, in the goo,
    And you’ve learned something, too,
    Something you never knew,
    On the steps of the palace.

  9. Horatio says:

    “I’ve noticed that many people act as if talking about something and doing something are equivalent.”

    This is one of those cases where it’s very easy to see this fault in other people, but harder to see it – and do something about it – in yourself. And I say this from personal experience.

  10. Hi Alex,

    I love these posts of your and your lab rats experiments. As I was reading this, it reminded me of the book written by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled, “Excuses Begone”. Although I haven’t finished reading the book yet, I did see his PBS special and much of what he said hit home with me. When we begin to take responsibility for our actions and stop making excuses, we begin to accomplish that which we desire.

    It’s an ongoing journey, but I do feel it’s one well worth taking.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..When The Conversation Stops =-.

  11. Robin Hunter says:

    Alex

    I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months because I’m in a career transition of my own. I’ve really noticed how your own transition can be tracked through time by reading your blog so you have inspired me to start my own. http://knittingrobin.blogspot.com

    I’m hoping that by writing and reading my own posts I can track my progress and perhaps even speed it up by giving active attention to the details and my personal growth.

    I want to thank you for your blog. You have raised many issues that I am now actively working on.

    Robin

  12. Wendee says:

    The work towards positive internal thoughts and movement is harder than these summaries will tell. And then there’s the whole sharing-it part, too. This was a week of significant victories for me, actually.

    I’m not sure about having rose-colored glasses, seeing things as better as they are. I do feel a need, though, to shake this grey cloud that’s been following me around, and to take some time to celebrate the good…

  13. Making things happen instead of just talking is how you see who walks the walk and talk the talk. It easy to tell someone I’m going to be a millionaire by age 21. But if you don’t put your walk behind your talk, then your living in delusion.

    Think + Hard Work= Success!
    .-= jonathanfigaro´s last blog ..Power of Positive Thinking =-.

  14. Alex Fayle says:

    @Horatio
    I speak from experience too in this, after all it took me 25 years to finally stop talking about writing and to start doing it instead. 😉

    @Barbara
    Glad you enjoy the series! That sounds like a great book – one to be added to my Wish List for sure.

    @Robin
    So glad to have inspired your blog! And yes, I use my blog as a way to track my progress. I’m horrible with diaries and journals because being private things I just tend to whine. By being public with the blog I actually have to show that I’m making progress and so it gives me some accountability to follow through on the things I want to do.

    @Wendee
    Yes, the grey cloud is the opposite of the rose-coloured glasses. It where we walk around with a personal storm cloud or fog around us blocking out the sun.

    We’ll be moving on to celebrating the good from here on it – so hopefully we’ll be able to burn through the haze that’s got you trapped.

    @jonathanfigaro
    Exactly – I used to be a big talker – when my friends started calling me “excuses man” I realized I needed to start doing and talk less!

  15. Wendee says:

    Thank you Alex. Looking forward to it!
    .-= Wendee´s last blog ..Too much pensive stuff for you? Okay, fine; Try this then =-.

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