Never Cut a Tree Down in The Winter Time
Never cut a tree down in the winter time.
Never make a negative decision in the low time.
Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods.
Wait. Be patient.
The storm will pass.
The Spring will come
This Steve Jobs quote was shared widely on Facebook recently. Perhaps because Spring has finally made an appearance in the UK but also because we recognise this as truth. We do not make our best decisions when we are in our worst moods.
It is part of being human that there are times when we feel buoyant, happy and loving and times when we ‘carry the world on our shoulders’, we are consumed by our problems and feel disheartened, frustrated, and worried.
Typically in our society we put our changeable state down to our external environment. Our family, friends, bank balance or work issues have caused those feelings. We might add to our reasoning the things that happened in our past that taught us to react strongly to different situations.
If this is how the world looks to us, solving the issues that are causing us to feel bad is our priority. In our metaphor, if we see the tree with no fruit as the cause of our problems, cutting it down will appear a good solution.
But can anything external to us really cause us to feel something?
We experience everything that happens in our external environment via our own thinking. Our thinking creates the feelings that make it ‘real’ for us. So in one situation a person might feel angry that the tree has not grown as expected, another might consider it majestic, feel joyful and create a beautiful piece of art, and in a third, a person might be more concerned by the squirrels playing in the tree.
All three of these situations could be experienced by one person, maybe even in one day.
If thinking was caused by our environment, our reactions would be consistent, predictable, but they are not!
Our thinking has a lot to do with our mood. Popular culture recognises this, we ‘get out of bed the wrong side’ or have ‘a bad hair day’. When we are in a low mood, we think a lot and negatively. We criticise, judge and blame. We think about our thinking, we judge our negative feelings and desperately look for ways to feel better.
The more we try and control our thoughts and feelings, the more thinking we add to the mix. Our attempts to change ourselves actually have the opposite effect and keep us stuck.
In the midst of that thinking, we might remember, even briefly, that we are probably not upset for the reason we think. That our happiness and wellbeing are not missing, they are still with us under all the thinking. If we look more deeply we will see that our happiness and wellbeing are at our core. From that core, we can see our thoughts and feelings passing by. Like the weather or season our low mood will pass and, when it does, our thoughts and feelings will naturally settle.
With our settled mind, we know if there is action to take. Without the 'tunnel vision' of our over thinking, we see different options and potential. The tree might need water, we might look more closely and see signs of life. The ‘small quite voice within’ as Michael Neill calls it, our inner knowing, gives us a sense of the next step. He refers to this as a ‘green traffic light’ when we can move forward with our lives with ease and flow.
When we realise we are ‘up in our heads’ trying to figure things out, which happens to us all from time to time, this is like an amber light. Take care!
When we have strong feelings, positive or negative, this tells us we are in the midst of some pretty compelling thinking. It is not as straight forward as differentiating between positive and negative thoughts as you might be feeling overwhelmingly excited thinking about something like the expensive new car that you must have and all this will do for your life, even if you can't quite afford it. We might experience being caught up in our thinking as loud, urgent and commanding. It might feel confusing or overwhelming. This is a red light. Wait. Be patient.
The storm will pass. The Spring will come.
I'd love to hear your views on this in the comments section below. If you'd like to discuss how these ideas apply to you and your decision making, scroll down to the green button to book your initial conversation with me.