IT'S NOT WHAT YOU DO .....
Dee Chadwick
08 Mar 2020
It’s the way that you do it. A very true saying which warrants consideration as it can impact on what you do in many different areas of your life. In fact, I am putting a different spin on a previously used title! I’m doing it differently.

WHAT OF OTHER IT’s NOTS?

You can add in other it’s nots –

it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it

 it’s not what you see, it’s the way that you look at it

 it’s not what you hear, it’s the way that you translate it

 it’s not what you think, it’s the way that you spin it

it’s not what happens to you, it’s the way that you respond to it

 it’s not what your life is, it’s the way that you live it.

It comes down to choice. You choose the words that come out of your mouth. Are your words kind, angry, hurtful? Do you see beauty or ugliness in the people, places, things around you? Do you listen carefully or do you cue in to a few words, maybe not actually representing all that was said? Do you think rationally, clearly or let your mind go off into the’ what if’s’ of worrying? Do you respond to happenings with a knee jerk reaction or with a thoughtful approach?

As for that life of yours – you only get one shot at it, so best live it as fully and as meaningfully as you can.

WHICH LEAVES US WITH OUR ORIGINAL  ....

 It’s not what you do. I wonder, do you ever consider how you do things or is it something that simply happens, your tried and trusted approach, your default setting? I believe that this is how most of us approach doing things on a daily basis.

Those things that we do, even over the period of just one day, are very wide ranging as we all have a wide range of ‘hats’ to wear. We wear the hat representing a parent, a son or daughter, a sibling. Within this, we have a whole raft of roles. We are called upon to be cook, domestic god/goddess, nurse, clown, taxi driver, judge and jury, mopper up of tears, lover, consoler and on and on... so many different things to do.

Then we have our professional hat, or for some, there’s a whole hat box taken up with these, depending on the task in hand and the people with whom we are working. When I was teaching, I ‘did’ things differently if I was working with younger children or older ones, including using different approaches and different vocabulary. I would move from working with pre-school children to those preparing for the world of work or further education. You can imagine the look that I received from a gangly, spotty youth when I said – let’s round up now as it is nearly play time! Talk about any street cred that I had taking a mighty tumble. We did chuckle about it though, as he asked if he could play ‘chase’ with a huge grin on his face. Then there were the adults with whom I worked. The parents of the children, ranging from highly skilled professionals to quite a few who were non-readers. Then there were the professionals – either colleagues or the staff in the schools for which I was responsible. Most of the time, actions – doings – automatically adapted to each situation without me being consciously aware. I had been on this particular learning curve since taking up this role; moving  from an initial state of conscious incompetence  to one of unconscious competence. 

Throw in for good measure our ’doings’ as a friend, maybe a volunteer. So much to do that it is very easy to lose sight of ourselves. We become our roles rather than the person doing them.  We automatically adjust as we juggle, attempting to keep all of the plates in the air and hoping that none of them come crashing down.

When counselling couples, I always begin with asking each to tell me about their partner. The majority begin with the many roles that they play – their work, their parenting.  It is only afterwards that they move on to the actual person and their qualities, if at all.

WHAT SKILLS DO WE APPLY TO THE DOING...

The way that they do it? There’s ....

Doing it with boundary setting -

Some of us are very good at setting boundaries for ourselves. Boundaries that enable us to keep private and professional separate. We set a time at which we stop checking emails, answering a work phone. This is in an ideal world, but it can be difficult to set up and maintain those boundaries especially if working with an on call system. Boundaries can be hard to set up and maintain if the volume of work you are expected to complete is above and beyond what is reasonable. I use a phrase that I heard Sue Perkins use in the programme when she was taking us along the Ganges – ‘it’s like breast feeding a jelly baby’. A seemingly impossible thing to do, no matter how hard you try.

 This situation calls for a different set of boundaries to be negotiated. The ones within that world of work and our line managers.

Doing it with balance –

There are those of us who are more influenced by their head than their heart – and vice versa. It is a healthy option to endeavour to reach an equilibrium between these two.  You may be aware that there have been times when what you have done had been led by the wrong body part.

Similarly when deciding if what you are going to do is led by you taking the easy option.  It becomes your  way of being, meaning that brain, body, imagination aren’t being stretched; and that stretching is good for us. It is good to do things that we haven’t done before. It is good to do things that involve learning new skills. It is good to do things that require us to think out of our usually firmly closed box.

Doing it with a pause –

Pause before you do – as in ‘Look before you leap’.  Yes, there ARE times when you have to act on instinct, you react. For most doing, pausing to consider options is a wise choice.

Pause before you do any judging or accusing of people. Do you have all of the facts before you leap in and do something that may lead to later regret?

Doing it with style –

There are times when you have to do something that is not run of the mill. I had taken a young man to A&E with a suspected broken arm. I told him that I had to do a quick nip to the toilet, leaving him with a nurse. In my haste, I got my dress caught in my knickers. Not in a minor way, rather well and truly jammed in. I crossed the waiting room to return to the patient to see him grinning from ear to ear. He pointed out my problem, and I turned to realise that he was far from the only one grinning! Rather than go red and quickly sit down, I did things in style. I took a bow... and then sat down. I like to believe that I added a moment of lightness to what was probably a horrible day for the gathered maimed and sick.

Doing it with strength –

I believe that we all surprise ourselves at times at just how much inner strength we have. A strength that we ignore, or take for granted, if we have a need to call upon it on a regular basis. Instead, we need to acknowledge what a strong person we are and be proud of it. My husband was in the Falklands, flying phantoms following repairs to the runway. I was well aware of the weather and flying conditions there. There was always the chance that they could take off on a sortie and the weather close in. They then would struggle to land back at Stanley, with no other options. Keeping my concerns tucked away, I set to to fully support my sons and their many activites, to decorate, make curtains for  the house that we had just moved in to, carry out household chores, support an ailing father, and go to work. It all had to be done, so I just got on and did it, fully engaging every ounce of my inner strength.

Doing it with focus –

It is far too easy for us to flit from one thing to another – I hold my hand up to this. Throw in a good old dose of procrastination and a simple ‘doing’ can become enormous in our mind if not in fact.  It’s down to developing strategies to help us to focus, as with setting those good old SMART targets. Then, aided and abetted by some positive self-talk, knuckling down to the task in hand. With a reward for achievement to look forward to.

Doing it with gratitude –

Be grateful that you have the opportunity, that you can to do what you have chosen to do, what you need to do. Gratitude is something that far too many of us ignore as we simply accept the skills that we have, the fact that we can afford to do some of the things we do – even if this involves good old fashioned saving beforehand or maybe flashing of the plastic. We ignore the fact that we have the opportunities that so many others are denied. Opportunities for which an expression of gratitude would serve us well.

Doing it with love –

I don’t just mean those things that we do for family and friends who we love. How lucky we are if we wake each morning knowing that we love the work that we do. For far too many years, I woke each Monday morning feeling physically sick knowing the volume of work that lay ahead of me over the next seven days.  When I took early retirement, I was able to focus on my private practice in counselling, hypnotherapy and hypnobirthing. Monday mornings completely changed as did my overall health and happiness as the love aspect of what I was doing wasn’t completely hidden from me by that volume of work.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO – FOR THAT PERSON WHO MAY BE GETTING LOST?

Don’t forget that person who may be getting overwhelmed, becoming lost to you by having so many things to do. Things often done for others, or necessary to pay the bills. Ensure that you do something as often as you can just for you and do it with as much love, passion, style, focus, gratitude as you can. It will help to balance your life and your ability to do those things that you feel have to be done. Set boundaries round this time for you, to ensure that it isn’t gobbled up, taken over by other things. It isn’t an add on, rather it is a priority.

It can be a simple doing – a soak in the bath, getting out into the fresh air, especially if away from shops and crowds. A time to do what your body, your mind, your spirit need to recharge those batteries of yours. We are all under so much pressure these days. Pressure to achieve, to be there for all who need us. Don’t forget what those flight attendants tell us about the oxygen masks. If they come down, fit yours first before helping children, older people, others. Doing for ourselves is not selfish, rather it is self caring in order for you to be able to do for others.

When push comes to shove, endeavour not to feel pressurized to conform to standards. Don’t compare your efforts with those of others, no matter who this may be. When you do something, hold your chin up, put your shoulders back and, in the words of Frank Sinatra say ‘I did it my way.’

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