(Note: This BLOG follows on from the last couple)
Here’s a story
Once upon a time a daughter complained to her Dad that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed them on the stove and turned it on.
Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.
He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter.
The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.
After twenty minutes he turned off the stove. He took the potatoes out of the pot and put them in a bowl. He pulled the boiled eggs out and put them in a bowl. Then he poured the coffee into a mug.
Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”
“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noticed that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she saw it was hard boiled inside. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Straight away the smell and taste brought a smile to her face.
“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.
He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same problem – the boiling water…However, each one reacted differently.
The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.
The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When problems knock on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?'
I don’t know about you guys but whenever I’ve had a problem people usually tell me “you’ll be right.” “You’ll find a way.” “Just get over it.” “Tough it out.” They tell me what to do but not how. That’s what’s missing from the story; the “how to be a coffee bean”. And it's the same in our world today.
I know a lot of people who were in the same place as you. A promising future, possibilities ahead of them, but they didn’t think they were the coffee bean. They ended up overwhelmed by their own struggles, had doubts, encountered hurdles. Like me, they knew they were in the boiling water but didn’t know how to get through it.
I’m going to share with you today a time in my life when I was in a really bad place and vulnerable. I'll show you the “how” I discovered. It's actually similar to the way I've discovered the toolkit that I use around home to fix things. So I'll relate the tools for retraining my mind to the tools in my toolbelt.
Thank you to my brother Michael for been the first person to hear this story, support me and tell me how much he loves me. I wouldn't be sharing my story with you today if he hadn't encouraged me to.
Apologies to my family and friends who I haven't shared this with and are reading this at the moment. I don't really know how to bring this up in conversation but I know you love and support me. You've already told me that. If anyone wants to talk to me about this feel free to. Excuse the length. I couldn't figure out which bits to cut. Hence emailing it on a Friday arvo so you've got the weekend to read and reread.
Here’s my story
When I was 22, I was feeling deeply lonely, flat and down. I was tired of this struggle I kept facing. I couldn’t find my “ideal job.” I felt like I had no purpose. Didn’t feel comfortable in the relationship I was in. Had no idea how to fix this struggle which had been going on in my head for about 5 years but realistically probably longer.
This all built up over days, weeks, months, until one day when I was driving along a thought pop into my head “if you drove into that tree and died no-one would care or even notice you were gone.”
I immediately started crying. I pulled over and started really bawling my eyes out. Where had this thought come from? Does this make me crazy? What was wrong with me? I didn’t really want to die, did I? I sat there for about an hour in the car and cried myself out. After awhile I regained my composer. I took some deep breaths and realised I was mentally and physically drained and as a result really hungry. I thought to myself “I’d better go get dinner sorted now. Maybe some chocolate would do the trick.” And off I drove. Looking back it seems a bit odd to go from these two extreme opposites in thinking. But oh well, who knows what goes on in our minds.
I didn’t want to tell anyone about this because I didn’t know how people would respond. I didn’t want to end up on some medication or worse, have people whispering about me behind my back. After all there wasn’t anything really wrong with me. I had an OK job as a Cave Guide with Parks and Wildlife. I had a boyfriend. My family loved me. I didn’t have heaps of friends but that’s OK I didn’t mind watching and rewatching Star Wars and if I needed a bit of drama in my life McCleod’s daughters sorted that.
First tool: Eating
This would be the equivalent of having zip ties in your toolbelt (put zip ties in toolbelt). They’re both easy to use and hold everything together for the short term. Zip ties are a good tool for a newbie. You don’t need much skill. If you muck it up it’s easy to just do it again. It’s the same with eating. Anyone can go to the supermarket and grab food. Maccas is 24 hours now. Or there’s normally something in your pantry. The only skill you need is to get something that tastes good, so then you feel good.
The next time
The next time that thought popped into my head for some reason (I don’t know why) I found myself speeding up. Then quickly braking. Then speeding up. Then braking. To someone watching they probably would have been thinking “only a blond could get an auto to bunny hop”.
This second tool I discovered was an important one. I decided to find a way forward. I had no idea what or how to do this but there had to be a way.
Second tool: Resilience
This is about becoming tougher and bouncing back. Finding a way forward. This is the equivalent of adding a hammer to your toolbelt. It’s part of the staple diet of any handy man’s tools. An essential tool (put hammer in toolbelt). Thor’s hammer. Magic. Resilience. The good stuff.
The next time
The next time that thought popped into my head a different thought popped in “nup, I’m not listening to you today.” I cranked up the tunes, started singing along and looking at the scenery.
Third tool: Distraction
An interruption and diversion. This would be like having gaffer tape in your toolbelt. They both hold things together temporarily. Won’t last forever and not the most effective to do the job in the long run (put gaffer tape in toolbelt).
The next time
The next time that thought popped into my head it was greeted with a simple “oh it’s you again” and I let it out the window. A mind training tool I teach all my clients. Come and see me if you'd like to learn it.
Fourth tool: The Release Process
This is the equivalent of adding a set of screwdrivers to your toolbelt. Straight away you can do a whole heap more (put screwdrivers in toolbelt).
The next time
The next time that thought popped into my head, I thought “yes, that could be true. I could die anytime and I don’t know how people will react but at least I’ve lived a rewarding life. I’m really enjoying life now.”
I realised I was a coffee bean. I had created something new. A new meaning. The coffee bean had spent about 20 minutes in the boiling water. I had spent about 20 years. I was 34 years old.
Fifth tool: Creating a new meaning
This is like adding your mobile phone to your toolbelt. Both add new knowledge and resources. I’ve got access to YouTube and Google. I can call anyone who might be able to help me fix that problem round my house. I've got a whole new way to tackle problems (put phone in toolbelt).
It's the same as when we create a new meaning from an experience. We've got a new perspective. A new lesson we've learnt which becomes a new resource. A new tool to draw on.
Look at all my different tools (see picture above)
Changing your thinking requires different tools. You gather different tools along the way which work for you in different situations.
This is literally the toolbelt I use to fix things round my house. There are a few tools I haven't explained yet but I'm saving that as an encore. You'll get those next month, maybe. For someone to do an encore they need to hear the cheers and whistles from the crowd.
The toolkit I use on my mind is similar to the toolkit you can see in the picture. It’s the essentials. Nothing fancy or high tech but does the job. Simple, easy to use, practical. Everything has a purpose.
There’s obvious tool which are missing and that's OK. I haven’t needed them yet. If I do I’ll go and find them. If you think about it logically there’s experiences we haven’t had and people we haven’t met yet, so how can we have all the tools straight away? We’ll fill these other pockets as we need to (they're round the back).
HOW to be a coffee bean
First, a bit about how we think. We all think and talk to ourselves. It’s how we process things. Our thoughts get us from A to B. I think of them in a similar way to a car. A car gets us from A to B. But the car can’t go on its own. It needs fuel. It’s the same with our thoughts. Our thoughts need fuel, which is what our emotions and feelings are.
The feelings and emotions are the important part, they give the thought power. Like if a random thought pops into your head "I wonder if that bird can fly upside down?" It doesn't take you anywhere because there's no underlying emotion.
This is why the tools which focused on changing my thought weren't really effective. The thought kept coming back because the underlying emotion of the lonely, flat and down was still there. The last two tools which targeted changing the emotion had the best result.
This is the HOW. The Release Process and changing the meaning. These targeted changing the emotion which allowed me to move forward in a different way.
Using your tools
Remember, whenever you learnt something new you didn’t know how to do it straight away. Like if you had to use a tool for the first time, you needed someone to teach you how. Or time to figure it out yourself. It's the same with the toolkit for your mind.
Warning: Boiling Water
The coffee bean didn’t turn the boiling water to coffee straight away. It needed the intense heat and pressure of the boiling water. Yes, they’ll be times when life feels like this. You'll experience the intense heat and pressure. But now you’ll have the toolkit to create something new. You know HOW to be a coffee bean.
So go and add other tools to your own toolbelt.
P.S. This photo is me in action with my toolbelt (mind and literal toolbelts)
Something to think about...
“I'll find my way. I'll never give up, never give up."
Australian singer and songwriter