Printer friendly version of http://www.sideroad.com/seamless/column2.html

The SeamLess Life

Issue # 2 May 22, 1998

SWAT THE 'GNATS' AND STOP SUFFERING!

Last week's SeamLess Life™ article asked you to create a "life satisfaction baseline." You measured your satisfaction in 8+ dimensions of your life. The SeamLess Life™ is about increasing your satisfaction in all parts of your life.

One way you can do this right now is to:

  1. - Identify what stands in the way of your satisfaction, whether the obstacles are big or small,
  2. - Figure out what those blocks "cost you" in terms of energy, time, focus, etc.
  3. - Find ways to eliminate, minimize, or effectively manage the blocks.

What this usually means is that you learn to manage YOU in a different way.

Blocks to satisfaction usually come in 2 forms: 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings'

1. The 'Gnats' of your life.

These are the small things you put up with. They're small things that you usually just brush off, like the gnats at a picnic. You ignore them. You aren't aware that these annoyances draw your attention and energy away from what you're really up to. If they felt more like "bees" or even "mosquitoes," you might do something about them. Mostly, you just put up with them.

'Gnats' could be the messy closets and work shelves that keep you from finding things. Your crowded garage. Your unfinished marketing brochure. A car that needs tuning up. A broken lock. Dry cleaning to take in for winter storage. Most of us tend to just put up with these things, tolerate them, until they pile up. Then we get so annoyed that we finally do something about them.

2. The 'SUFFERINGS' of your life are your BIG or CHRONIC complaints.

They create tension and crowd you. You're conscious of how they diminish the quality of your life. You probably just accept them as "normal" because you don't know what to do about them.

'Sufferings' can be your long work hours as you start your business. Your staff isn't well trained so you can't delegate. Your demanding clients call you at all hours. Your daughter is concerned that "you don't EVER get to my soccer games, Dad!" You don't take vacations. You don't have time to talk, really talk, with your spouse. You've stopped exercising. Your 83-year-old aging, forgetful mother needs more attention than you can afford to give.

SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

More satisfaction comes when you take these steps for yourself.

1. SIT DOWN AND IDENTIFY YOUR PERSONAL 'GNATS' AND 'SUFFERINGS.'

List as many as you can right now. Most people's 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings' come in the areas of Work, Family, Home/Environment, Community. Start with these. Or go back to your Life Dimensions chart and list your 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings' for each dimension. (see this section in last week's Sideroad if you didn't read it.)

2. COUNT THE COST.

Anything you put up with has a cost to it. It may cost you time, inconvenience, frustration. Or, the cost may be your own or others' disappointment. Or a loss of well-being. Identify what each 'Gnat' and 'Suffering' is costing you. Ask yourself, is the exchange worth it? Is putting up with this and bearing the cost really worth it? We believe that most of the time the cost is too high. If you want a SeamLess Life™, you can't afford to give up pieces of yourself in this way.

Some people get a lot of energy from putting up with things and from suffering. They get energized by feeling like they're martyrs, handling heavy loads, being "oppressed." Sometimes it even makes them feel heroic to be handling a lot and to be miserable. There are much better ways to get through life. But you won't find them until you stop putting energy into the 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings' and make some space for other things.

3. DO SOMETHING ABOUT EACH 'GNAT' AND 'SUFFERING' IF THE COST ISN'T WORTH IT TO YOU.

There are basically 4 ways you can 'Swat the Gnats' and 'Eliminate the Sufferings.'

a. GET A STRATEGY--ELIMINATE THEM

Create a plan for eliminating each one completely. You can take care of it yourself: That might mean spending Saturday cleaning up the garage. Organize a garage sale and get rid of the excess. Set a realistic completion date for your brochure and put it on your calendar. Or, delegate: You might, for example, hire a graphic designer or a writer to complete your brochure.

b. SOME WILL DISAPPEAR BY THEMSELVES.

Once you decide not to have them in your life, some 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings' will just naturally disappear. It's as if they realize their time is over. They just take care of themselves without any effort on your part.

c. NEUTRALIZE THEM.

Compromise and find a solution that will work for now, and that will take the emotional "charge" out of the situation. Recognize that you can't do everything at once, so get real about your expectations. Establishing a realistic date for completing your brochure, for example, will take the sting out of it hanging over your head.

D. CONVERT THEM INTO LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES OR GRATITUDES.

Some things, like your 83-year-old mother who is in decline, may be unchangeable facts in your life. What you can change is how YOU respond to them. Think of how long your mother took care of you: She invested at least 16 years of her life in a nurturing, protective and supportive relationship for your growth. Be grateful for the opportunity to give something back. Be thankful for whatever time you have left with her. Arrange as much support as you can for yourself, and acknowledge how much you have to learn from the situation.

4. UPDATE YOUR LIST PERIODICALLY.

You'll want to revisit your list every 60 days. Add new items, and eliminate what you've taken are of. Consider what dimension of your life most of the 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings' play out in. Most of us have a couple areas where they tend to collect in. If you find they are mostly at work, for example, take action:

  1. - Don't let new ones accumulate or multiply there. One 'Gnat' attracts others--soon you'll have a swarm.
  2. - Decide what the real costs are you for you. How long are you willing to put up with this? Set a "termination date" for each of your 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings.' Put it on your calendar and become a Terminator of the things you've been tolerating!

In the next several weeks, we'll focus on Needs and Values. Sometimes your 'Gnats' and 'Sufferings' are linked to how you meet your needs or live through your values. Keep reading The SeamLess Life™ and find out how yours are connected to the fabric of your life.

Do you have any questions about this article? Need advice on your life? E-mail us! Diane can be reached at diane@heartdance.com, and Sherry can be reached at sherry@sherrylowry.com.

Diane and Sherry's book, Discovering Your Best Self Through the Art of Coaching, can be ordered at http://www.sherrylowry.com/book.htm.


Back to the Column

Text © Diane Menendez & Sherry Lowry, 1998, 1999. Part of the original Sideroad.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.