The Relevancy of Being Irrelevant

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Like leaves that thrive, explode with glory and wait patiently for its purpose again so is our relevancy throughout our lives; growing, glowing, transforming year after year.

I have a job; I feel relevant. I don’t have a job; I feel irrelevant. My children are healthy and making good choices; I feel relevant and significant in their lives as a good role model. My children are making poor choices again and again, exercising their free will; I feel irrelevant and insignificant asking myself where did I go wrong…and so it goes. Up and down like a rollercoaster, constantly. I think it’s called LIFE.

The dictionary defines the word irrelevant as unrelated to the matter being discussed or considered; not important; not applicable or pertinent; having no meaning or connection with the subject or issue.

Just reading those words makes me feel frumpy and broken and I don’t want to live in these words but sometimes I just feel impertinent and unimportant and like I’m not connected to anything or anyone.

Let’s turn it around.

What does it mean to be relevant? The dictionary defines the word relevant as the state of being closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand; meaningful or purposeful in current society or culture; a connection to the matter being discussed; having practical value or applicability.

I don’t think anyone who lives past age 2 can escape feeling irrelevant at one time or another. However, there is relevance to feeling irrelevant. In a nutshell irrelevancy has the power to allow space for pondering, changing, adaptability and transformation.

I am a mom. I was relevant to my children until they hit 2 years old and they discovered their autonomy by powerfully exercising their use of the word “no”. Oh what fun times we had as a family when the kids would say no to something. It is said in those lovely guide books about raising children that what you see from them at 2 or 3 or 9 years old will manifest itself again in more dangerous and powerful ways when they turn 12, 13 or 19 years old. I am here to attest to the fact that yup, all true.

I became irrelevant in a more powerful way when the kids became teenagers. They no longer needed or wanted to hear from me about anything. They knew everything and if they didn’t they would figure it out on their own. I went through a time of deep despair and depression when every word out of my mouth was ignored, seemed meaningless, disconnected from their perceived reality, not applicable to their situation because “things were different since I was a teenager”. You get the picture?

It’s a tough reality to wrap my head around when, whether with purposeful intent or random circumstance I find myself having to deal with transformation or change of any kind, in this case my children growing up, and asking the ultimate question, “what now”?

Transformation happens when we graduate from college or get married or become parents or change careers or retire. Sometimes transformations are wanted and happily accepted but most transformations take place by being forced on us or we are coerced into the changes that are taking place. At times transformations just happen. By natural design we are creatures of habit and we do not like when things change. Even if we are unhappy with the things we are doing we at least know how to manage our emotions within the unhappiness and tasks rather than throw it all out the window by choice and embrace the attitude of “Yippee !! Come what may”.

I started trying to turn my own mindset around when I got a job outside of the house and could no longer cater to the children’s needs, emotions and quirks full time. In my job I became relevant to the needs of the company and to the needs of strangers. I started to value my ability to learn, my ability to form relationships and to communicate and my ability to own my piece of the tasks at hand. When I started to apply my work mindset toward parenting, my children started to change too. (Shhh — Without their knowledge or permission).

In pondering the life moments when I feel my own irrelevancy, I take the down time to realize the many ways I strive to feel relevant and this list might help you too….

I stay true to who I am deep inside. I believed for so long that if someone would just teach me what they want me to know in order to do the job or task they need done then I could rise to their need and get it done. After all, I had years and years of experience doing just that as a parent. I stayed authentic to who I believed myself to be. If you are struggling with doubt about your own authenticity call me. Let’s get you coached around that because it is the key that unlocks many doors.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”  ― May Sarton

I give. I give my time, my talents, my heart to whatever it is I am doing whether it be volunteering, baking, cooking, gardening, writing, conversing, listening, praying, playing, taking pictures or learning something new. I am “all in” everything I do. I achieve a sense of mastery for each time I practice giving. I become a master at kindness, compassion, empathy, relevance and become more and more authentic in the process.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”  ― Charles Dickens

I am action oriented. I absolutely hate sitting still for too long. I feel most productive and relevant if I am physically moving around getting things done or mentally stimulated when learning something new. Being an action oriented person also means facing fears I keep deep inside. My goal is to practice facing my fears and get to the end of my day with a list in my heart of all the things I gratefully accomplished and to feel exhaustively satisfied enough to sleep well.

“The best thing you can do is just do it, just face the fear and get it over with. How do you get the courage? You create your courage by just taking action…”  ― James A. Murphy, The Waves of Life Quotes and Daily Meditations

I consider my antonyms. It is a natural human defense trait that thoughts will first drift toward negativity before we seek to purposefully rein them in and kick negativity to the curb. Coaching has taught me a tremendous amount about my own inner power of turning things around in my own head. In this case, when I start feeling irrelevant I consider the opposite of my negative thoughts. I think about all the ways in which I am significant, relevant, necessary, valuable, useful, needed and worthwhile. On the chance that I still find irrelevancy within these words I think about and put into action all the ways in which I want to be all of these antonyms and where I can start.

“We each carry with us unique gifts, recognized and unrecognized. We long to harness those gifts in a way that gives life significance and helps us to matter more in the lives of others.”  ― Tom Hayes

I try to keep a child’s mindset or in other words I try to keep a simple sense of curiosity at the forefront of everything I do. Whether I am learning something new to be able to get a task done at work or asking questions to my clients to help open doors on their life’s journey or to my children to help them think about something more deeply, I am always curious on a child’s level as to the how or why that is at the heart of what is happening.

“If we are to use the words ‘childish’ and ‘infantile’ as terms of disapproval, we must make sure that they refer only to those characteristics of childhood which we become better and happier by outgrowing. Who in his sense would not keep, if he could, that tireless curiosity, that intensity of imagination, that facility of suspending disbelief that unspoiled appetite, that readiness to wonder, to pity, and to admire?”  ― C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

As my children get older I have to face the reality that I too am getting older and I think about what will my relevance be once my children are on their own and no longer living in my home? For one thing I am taking back my own life and constantly seeking to create me. It matters to me that even though I no longer need to be physically relevant to teach my children I can be spiritually relevant as an example of how life goes on for me when they are not around.

No matter what stage of life I am in I am always, in one way or another, in transformation mode. I choose the word transformation over the word change because change can be such an ugly word and puts up red flags in my gut. I prefer transformation because that is a more accurate word to describe the big and small ways in which life re-creates, re-invents and re-generates itself constantly. The objective to winning in transformation is to go with the flow. A great example of this is my grandmother. By God’s grace she will be turning 100 years old this August. The normal thoughts when you hear about someone turning an unbelievable age like 100 is what keeps them going and feeling the pull to live?

We don’t live near each other and so we can’t physically see each other on a regular basis but I know through conversations with her or my mom that she never sits still. She still lives on her own, not in a nursing facility, she still drives a car, she still flies on airplanes to visit family at least 3 times a year, she still cooks and bakes, she still meets with friends on a weekly basis, and she still does her own grocery shopping. Three characteristics that keep her relevant is her optimistic attitude toward life, her faith and her curiosity toward life and transformation. She is about to downsize her living and will be moving to a new area, making new friends and forming new life habits. She is not afraid and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants to live in her new space. She is a shining example of relevance in my humble opinion.

If you are going through life moments where you find yourself questioning your relevance please consider that in each phase of transformation we become a clean page in the story of our own lives and have the incredible opportunity to start a new chapter and choose what goes onto our new pages. I hope these “call to action” questions will help you. Let’s open up a dialog about helping each other feel more relevant in every stage of life.

Call to Action

Where in your life right this moment do you feel irrelevant?

In what ways are you believing you are irrelevant?

What makes you feel relevant?

How can you approach your next transformation with a child’s curiosity?

What can you do with the life skills you have learned so far to help someone else and thereby inject relevance into your life and the life of someone else?

What are some new activities, skills or wisdom you would like to include on the new pages of your next chapter?

Happy YOU Year

Happy YOU Year….              

Welcome to my first mini-series blog post. In this mini-series I will be guiding you through what it means to change and why we do it, whether it is with purpose or subconsciously. There are 2 books that have inspired me to consider this topic as a mini-series. The first book is called “Changing For Good” (CFG) by Drs. James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., John Norcross, Ph.D., and Carlo C. DiClemente, Ph.D. Together these 3 brilliant minds discuss change theory and give real person examples of how the change process works.

The second book that I found to be an amazing and at times humorous and enlightening read is called “Changeology” (CO) by Dr. John Norcross, Ph.D. Both of these books take the reader through step by step processes in aiding anyone through making significant, stick-to-it changes. My hope is to break down these processes into understandable language that won’t take too long to read through. I am aiming for simplicity even though making changes on any level is anything but simple.

Change is all around us at this time of year; a new year, a new opportunity to start fresh. What does it really mean to change, to revolutionize, to become, to metamorphose?

 

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne WIlliamsom

So to get started take a moment and think about just what changes you want to make in your life. This exercise could take a lifetime to do however I am asking you to think about just one thing. It can be huge like stopping smoking or changing jobs and/or careers or it can be small like cleaning out the attic or dressing differently.

Change happens whether we change something in or about our lives with purpose or we just keep thinking about the changes we want to make but do nothing about it at all. Consider for instance a birthday or a new year or a new week. These changes happen with us or without us being mindful of them. What we do to acknowledge these changes is where the fun begins. Time is the only change that occurs whether we want it to or not. In order to feel connected to time passing we have to somehow harness the power of time. It is an illusion to think that there will always be a later on or a tomorrow. It is important to remember that all we have is this moment. When the moment is gone it is gone forever BUT each moment can be a catalyst toward the next moment. My hope is to inspire you to create your moments and not allow them to pass undetected and unrealized. My hope is to avoid, as much as possible that which creates a feeling of wasting time or of helplessness.

 

We do have some say over our behaviors, thoughts, feelings and actions and that in itself is a harness of time. Moments where we find ourselves feeling stronger, more empowered, healthier, more in tune to our bodies and minds is a way for us to use time to its best advantage.

Throughout each mini-series post I will take a look at the stages of change much like grief having its own stages and I will give you wisdom wizards that will help you think more open-mindedly and hopefully kick-start you toward taking possession of whatever changes you want to create. My wisdom wizards are carefully selected and profound words and phrases of encouragement that will be so thought provoking that hopefully you will be inspired to do just one thing every day toward becoming the person you want to be.

“It can be argued that there are few differences between therapy-change and self-change. All change is self-change and therapy is simply professionally coached self-change.”(pg. 17 CFG)

I am a personal growth professional. I believe that while I know you have the inner power to change what you want about yourself or your thoughts or your feelings, I know how uplifting and powerful it is to work with someone who is completely on your side through the changes you want to make. “When you are trying to motivate yourself appreciate the fact that you are even thinking about making a change. And as you move forward, allow yourself to be good enough.” – Alice Domar

Having that one special person completely and wholeheartedly believe in you, stand with you, hold you to your goal, guide you along the rough roads ahead, is something that is priceless and can make all the difference in making the changes stick for good. Just like a parent helps a toddler learn to walk or to ride a bike so does a life coach help his/her client understand what it will take to get to where he/she wants to be and I will stand with you and behind you every step of the way.

I have found that the one greatest obstacle toward change is that it isn’t easy. We all want everything right now, this instant. To wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and see the body we dream of having, to go to that job that is just right for us, to feel happiness throughout our bodies because we summon it to be so. “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.” – George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones

Change doesn’t work like that although I argue that the very first step in making this change process take hold is to dream and think and believe that it can happen. “Any activity that you initiate to help modify your thinking, feeling or behavior is a change process.” (pg. 25 CFG) Without that deep rooted belief nothing is possible. “Nothing really worth having is easy to get. The hard fought battles, the goals won with sacrifice, are the ones that matter.” –Aisha Tyler

So the questions that need answering are:

*How hard are you willing to work to get what you want?

*Where in your body do you start to believe that what you want is not only possible but yours for the taking?

*What are the fears you are believing right now that might be preventing you from making the changes you want to make?

As I mentioned earlier, there is great comfort in knowing that you are not alone when it comes to wanting to change something in your life. Whether you seek the help of a support group, a life coach, a close friend, a spouse, or a therapist, just knowing that you are not alone is a huge deep breath of hope.

         It Starts with the First Step

That said, here is the first change stage to start off this mini-series. There are some people that are being asked by friends or loved ones to make changes or are being alerted toward the need to change something in their lives.  Those changes are very much against the way that person wants or chooses to live. In scientific terms this is called the Pre-contemplation stage. We all know that to contemplate something is to think about that something, to reflect, to consider it. In pre-contemplation we are not even close to thinking about anything. We just go along doing what we always do without regard or care for consequences or fall out. We are not necessarily happy in what we are doing but we are certainly not looking to change what we are doing. Pre-contemplation says things like:

*I don’t have a problem.

*I have nothing I want to change in my life.

*The way I am is the way I was meant to be.

*If I have a problem then it’s because it’s in my DNA. It runs in my family. I can’t change.

Words like denial, demoralization, shame, defensive, anger, resistance, depression, low self-respect, and irrational are ways to describe the person who is not even close to being ready to change. People who are not willing to acknowledge that change is needed have an easy time of blaming others for their problems.  It becomes easy to redirect anger toward other people. Everything is someone else’s’ fault. Sometimes change is so hard to consider that the person completely blames themselves for creating the problem. The person feels defeated and low before anything positive can possibly happen. They are not always aware that there is a problem but more so they are helpless and are feeling protected by the safety they find in the self-hate.

 

“Sometimes, though, you make a pact with yourself. I’ll pretend there is nothing wrong if you pretend there is nothing wrong. It is called denial, and it is one of the strongest pacts in the world. Just ask those people who were still drinking champagne while the Titanic went down.” –Neal Shusterman, Dread Locks

Maybe your denial is filled with defiance as well.” I’ll show you, I’ll enjoy my own demise.”

How can a person facing this kind of uphill battle toward change get close to the happiness they want deep down inside? How can a loved one help a person in such denial and low self-respect?

*Increase awareness of the problem. Information is ammunition so that once the obstacles toward happiness are laid out clearly and simply the words can’t be taken back or forgotten. The evidence speaks for itself. Here is where help comes in whether it is in small articles to read, a doctor visit, groups to join or someone to talk to one on one. Choices most of all are catalysts toward awareness and change. Having options to take toward change is very important and empowering. “Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are….each time you let a new ingredient to enter your awareness.”Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life

*Be patient and kind with yourself. Try not to push someone or yourself toward change if you are not completely ready to understand and then take steps toward change. “People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.” –John Porter

“Remember to view yourself and your humanness with a kind heart.” –Elizabeth Berrien, Creative Grieving: A Hip Chick’s Path From Loss to Hope

*Don’t give up. It may take more time than you want it to take but time is your friend and by allowing the time you are helping to create awareness and a safe space to exist in and talk in and time will go a long way toward eventually taking action. “It always seems impossible until you can say, ‘I’m Possible’.” – Coach Lisa

*Build up your army of allies. Who is on your side? Who provides moral support? What foundations exist to help you? “Every success I have ever had or will have in the future comes not solely
from my own ambition and hard work, but also from those that have encouraged,
supported and challenged me. Success is never, ever a one person job.”
–T. S. Tate

“Self-help groups send out a powerful message to isolated pre-contemplators who are embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they have personal problems.” This kind of group says, “You are not the only person going through this problem; our group can help you to accept yourself as a person with an issue/problem and to do the best that you can to change it.” (pg. 101 CFG)

My Story

It took me 11 years to finally get up enough courage and fortitude and health information to stop denying that an operation I needed to have had to be done. For all of that time I spent a good portion of it blaming any outside force I could think of, especially my body, for betraying me. I was angry and in denial that the problem existed at all but in deep denial that the problem would get worse. The rest of the time I was just afraid. I was afraid of hospitals and operations and anesthesia and that feeling of being out of control.

Eleven years is a very long time to take to make a change and champion myself. I had to decide and most of all believe that not only was this operation going to be good for me physically but mentally as well. I think that it is an extreme case of time in this example but it is also a good example of just how long it can take some pre-contemplators to FINALLY get to where they need to be. I had my family and my doctor to support me but most of all I had my mind made up that this was going to be a good change. I’ll save the rest of this story for the change stage that will talk about action and outcome. Stay tuned……..

Call to Action

To help you figure out if you are a pre-contemplator or further along in the stages of change be honest in answering these questions for yourself:

1) I actively look for information to my or any problem I may have.

2) I have someone in my life that listens when I have a need to talk about my problems.

3) I find that the world around me is changing in ways that make it easier for me to change.

4) I know when I am resistant to help from anyone.

5) Whenever something negative happens to me it is rarely because of something I did to cause that negative occurrence.

These are yes and no questions but you may find that a maybe or an answer of not quite fits better. These questions are designed to help start to create awareness so try to think of specific situations that each question could apply to and write about that situation. See if you can read where you can honestly take responsibility for some of the negative fallout. Owning your part of the story of any helpless feeling is a great first step toward change.

 

Here are the 2 books that I recommend reading:

http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Good-Revolutionary-Overcoming-Positively-ebook/dp/B003GYEH2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141403&sr=1-1&keywords=changing+for+good

  www.amazon.com/Changeology-Steps-Realizing-Resolutions-Norcross/dp/B00CAYHN72/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141450&sr=1-3&keywords=changeology

 For information about coaching, whether it is in a like-minded group atmosphere or one on one please contact lisa@journeyoncoaching.com or call 203-560-3061. For more wisdom wizards please visit her website at www.journeyoncoaching.com  or visit Lisa’s Pinterest Board at http://www.pinterest.com/lisazaccagnini/wisdom-wizards/.

**Images by Bing.com

*Call to Action questions from Changing for Good