The Art of Living Attuned

A Powerful Alternative to “Predict and Control”

Have you ever noticed when you are in a situation that feels uncertain, your default response is to try to predict and control what’s going to happen next? Some examples might be times when you are:

  • being evaluated
  • preparing to address a conflict, or have a difficult conversation
  • engaged in an activity that requires a high degree of skill
  • pursuing a goal that you really, really want
  • in the spotlight, by choice or otherwise

In short, anytime you are attached to or invested in a specific experience or outcome, and not sure it will go well – the desire to predict and control seriously wants to run the show.

When We’re Rigid, We Don’t Flow

The problem with predict and control is twofold. First, when we get tight and stressed our focus narrows and we lose our capacity to sense what’s happening in the moment. And second, we lose our ability to respond in subtle ways. Our efforts to control can either shut us down, or lead to wild over correcting that lands us in the ditch.

The Wisdom in “Sense and Respond”

A much more intelligent approach to these situations is to sense and connect with the rhythm and energy of the experience as it is unfolding. If we are engaged and open, we will naturally know how to respond in the moment. This requires faith in flow, trust in yourself, and committed intention – all fabulous qualities to deepen in ourselves.

Start Small and Practice Lots

Of course, intending this and doing it in highly stressful situations are two different things. That’s why it’s important to practice. Start to notice the little moments in your life when you are trying to predict and control – good chance you’ll find several before you go to bed tonight. Whenever you catch one, take the opportunity to replace “predict and control” with “sense and respond”, and notice what happens to the flow of your life.

Good to ponder:

“When you believe you’ll be successful, you achieve a calmness that lets you see things more clearly.” – Tim Sanders

This post was inspired by a talk by Paul Scheele, a leading expert in transformational psychology.


What if You Chose Your Response?

Good to ponder:

“Serenity is not being safe from the storm – serenity is being safe within the storm.” – Unknown


68 Awesome Words to Live By


How to Give a Kick Ass Apology

Giving an authentic, from the heart, totally own your part in it apology just plain feels good. Yet it is amazing the contortions we will put ourselves through to avoid giving the real deal.

How many times have you found yourself saying: “I’m sorry – but…”, “I did it because…”, “If you had, hadn’t, did, didn’t, would’ve…”. And then there’s the classic: “I’m sorry you were offended, hurt, angry…” – this one is particularly sneaky because it does seem to express true concern for the other’s well-being, but let’s be clear, you’re still weasling out of owning your part. More importantly, all of the above approaches immediately put the other person on the defensive, and once they’re there, they can’t hear you anymore – they’re too busy building a defense.

Build Bridges Instead of Barriers

If it seems like we have no part in someone else’s upset, then our default is to get busy gathering evidence to support that position. What if instead we got curious and asked ourselves, “Is there any way I showed up less than optimally here? Even in some very small way, is there room for improvement on my end?” If you find something, which you will (unless you’re perfect), that’s the only thing to bring to the apology meeting. Anything about the other person’s outrageous behaviour is off limits, not your business, and out of your control. That’s their department.

It’s Not About Them

Here’s the thing, if your part is only .01%, and the other person’s is 99.99% and you fess up to your teeny tiny little piece and refrain from the temptation to point out their huge contribution to the conflict, you take responsibility for what you have control over, and let go of the futile battle to control what you can’t. Your part is handled, the rest is up to them, and this approach has the surprisingly empowering effect of minimizing your attachment to whatever their next move might look like. It connects you to the sense of well-being that comes from taking 100% responsibility for how you feel, 100% of the time, and frees you from the compulsion to get the rest of the world to act right so you can be happy.

Good to ponder:

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” – Benjamin Franklin


An Exercise in Creating the Life You Want

Have you ever found yourself thinking: “If only x, y or z were different, then there would be nothing in the way of my perfect life.”?

Often when some part of our life is not the way we would like it to be, we get busy looking for the external cause. But since we have very limited control over outside circumstances, its not the most effective place to target our energies.

On the journey toward creating the life we want, most of us eventually recognize that any changes we want must come from within – but perhaps you feel you have limited or no options to create a different situation. The good news is this is rarely, if ever, the truth. If there are areas in your life that are not matching your ideal vision for them, here is a powerful place to look:

What beliefs are you buying into that are getting in your way? And what if changing those beliefs was completely within your control?

If we hold beliefs that are working for us in our lives – ones that are creating peace, joy and positive motion – naturally it’s ideal to keep reinforcing them. This post is about the other kind of beliefs – the ones that keep us stuck, small, unhappy, fearful and limited.

What Are You Ready to Let Go Of?

I challenge you to pick one belief that’s holding you back. We all have them, but they are often so close to home that we don’t view them as beliefs – we think it is simply the way it is. It could be around any aspect of life – here are some examples:

  • money (I don’t have enough, I can’t figure out how to have more)
  • health (age = quality of health I can have, I’m too busy/tired to take better care of myself)
  • love (is complicated, hard to find, can’t be counted on)
  • opportunity (I would if only…)
  • time (…is in short supply)
  • career (I can’t change jobs, I need the security/income of my current one)

Pick one thing you believe that is not uplifting, empowering, and resourceful in your life. Something that doesn’t match what you actually want in that area. If you can’t think of anything, look at the different aspects of your life that are not working optimally. What you see there is a reflection of what you currently believe.

What If You Believed Something Else?

Once you have settled on one, ask yourself this: If I could believe anything I wanted about this thing, what would it be?

This can be an unsettling process, there’s a reason we believe what we do (usually has to do with safety and/or comfort). What we believe, on some level, makes sense to us. The problem is we don’t continually re-evaluate our beliefs to see if they make great sense. We rarely check in and ask ourselves:
Is this the most advantageous belief I can hold?
Is this belief is preventing me from living my life fully?

Using the examples above, here are some alternative beliefs that can help us to live the life we truly want:

  • money (My life is abundant; money flows easily into my world)
  • health (I feel younger and stronger every day; every cell in my body is infused with glowing vitality and perfect health)
  • love (is simple and effortless; is a fun adventure; adds richness to my life)
  • opportunity (I’m in charge of my life; I have endless opportunities)
  • time (I always have more than enough time)
  • career (What am I here to do? What are my gifts? How can I bring them to the world?)

I encourage you to step into new territory for a few moments and think big. No holding back. Imagine there are no limits to what you get to believe. If old, inhibiting voices try to creep in, notice them but do not allow them to take hold. Stay focused on connecting with your optimal vision.

What is one new belief that would change the game for you? Inspire you to open to life in a new way? Motivate you to take a risk or change a counter productive behaviour?

Take It for a Spin

For one week – act as if the new belief was 100% true. Ignore all messages to the contrary, just choose and commit to the potential truth in it. Write it on post it notes and put it everywhere, say it 100 times over in your mind, look for evidence of it in the world. Really step into it. Tell the contrary voices they get to have their say back as soon as the experiment is over.

Honour this trial with your whole heart – remember you’re exploring creating the life you want.

And watch what happens next.

Good to ponder:

“The very least you can do in you life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope, not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under it’s roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver

This post was originally written for Hope Cafe in April 2012.