It’s A Tough Climb – But Damn Good Footin’

“How’s it going, Aly?”

With a tender, loving smile and a glint in his eyes he said, “It’s a tough climb – but damn good footin’.”

Aly was an elderly cowboy, stocky, only about five feet tall.  The short, broad nose on his weathered face supported gold, wire-rimmed glasses.  I wished his sweat-stained, bent, and wrinkled stetson could tell stories.  The man and the cowboy hat appeared to have weathered many stormy days and nights on the ranch.  Beside the tattered raven feather in the headband were reasonably fresh green marks, which might hold some wisdom about business management, or at least about keeping your mouth closed at times.  Any guesses what those were?

“It’s a tough climb – but damn good footin’.”  Interesting approach to life, isn’t it?

What is your approach?

Life is not always a smooth gentle trail to ride, is it?  Work can be extremely demanding – long hours, extra duties, changes, lack of direction.  Personal life can be challenging too with hectic schedules, lack of time for self, financial burdens, and stressful relationships.

It all affects how you feel, doesn’t it?  Based on the situation, you may feel a wide range of emotions from: ticked-off, frustrated, and crappy; to happiness, joy, love, and everything in between.

Every life experience is internalized as feelings, and I believe that most people live their lives backwards. They subject themselves to situations, and think, speak, and act in certain ways (usually based upon habit), and the result is feelings.  Every step in this process is a choice, yet it all seems to happen on its own, to the point where they may believe that others, or the situation are responsible for their feelings.

If you think about this, it’s ludicrous.  I invite you to reflect for a moment.  Do you allow this to happen to you?

Why not do it the other way around?  Why not choose the feelings you want, and then choose the thoughts, and actions to support those feelings in every situation?

You might be thinking, “How do I do that?”

I’m glad you asked.  The challenge for you, should you choose to accept:  choose how you want to feel and then think accordingly.

To make it easy, here are just 2 things to do – strategic plans:  1) choose how you want to feel, and; 2) anytime you are feeling less than that, choose again.

The Plans

Plan 1) When you wake in the morning, take 5 or 10 minutes to choose how you want to feel all day and to “play it out” in your mind.

If you choose anger, resentment, or depression – hey, that’s your choice, but not recommended.

Let’s assume you choose something like calmness.  Get a really clear picture in your mind about what calmness is for you – your thoughts, how you speak to yourself and others, your actions, and really focus on what you feel – where it is in your body (sensations, temperature, sounds, colour).  Imagine this as clearly as you can, and you may even choose an “anchor” for that desired feeling (i.e. a picture you can recall or carry with you, a word, a pen, rock, or piece of jewellery to touch).

Then imagine and pretend you are going through segments of your day, feeling calmness, just like it is happening right now.  Imagine calmly meeting people you know you’ll meet, calmly dealing with issues you know you’ll face, and even calmly handling things that could happen.  In each situation, imagine using your anchor to remind you of your desired feeling.

Let’s call this segment intending – intending how you will feel in segments of your day.  And it works because your brain does not know the difference between imagining and reality.

Plan 2) As your day progresses, notice any twinges, twists, or tumblings that indicate you are feeling less than your desired feeling.  It might be an urge to say something critical or yell, a negative judgement, or a disrespectful action, even if it’s only a slight sneer or rolling of your eyes.

When that happens, stop, and take a deep breath.  Use your anchor to put your mind back into your desired calm feeling, just like you imagined it.  Then choose your thoughts and actions according to what you intended.

Let’s call this intentional application and it works because in your brain you’ve already done it.

These 2 plans may sound simple, and they are.  Based on my personal experience, they’re just not quite so easy to do all of the time.  You may find it’s a tough climb, but damn good footin’, so be vigilant, yet patient with yourself.

I guarantee that if you follow these plans, you’ll experience the feelings you want more regularly.  Would that be a good thing for you?

And when I meet you and ask, “How’s it going?” what will your response be?

It’s a tough climb, but damn good footin’.