Several years ago, my husband and I were having some challenges.
We argued about basically the same things, presented in different scenarios, over and over again. Same old, same old.
Each of us had a story in our heads and it didn't matter what the issue at hand was, we would react to that same story. She's irresponsible; he doesn't care; she forgets things all the time; he ignores my needs, and the best: You started it!
In short, we were stuck.
Which is ironic now in retrospect, many of my clients come to me because they're stuck and afraid and don't know how to wiggle themselves free from a particular situation.
Obviously, when a change is needed, it isn't going to be easy. The need for big changes can feel overwhelming. They take courage and a willingness to be open to try new things.
Over the years, I've learned that one of the simplest way to start wiggling yourself out of that stuck place, like a child's loose tooth, is by doing one thing differently.
When you switch up your approach, you'll start seeing the situation from a new angle, which then opens you to more possibilities, enhancing your creativity and problem-solving skills.
In the situation with my husband, someone gave me a great piece of advice. She said: Change the darn script!
I imagined my husband and I with our lines written on a piece of paper, each standing on opposite sides on a stage on Broadway, reading off the same old scripts no matter what was going on. It was hilarious! (You had to be there.)
The next time I heard "you bought too much food again," instead of a defensive reaction, I calmly said "I did, didn't I?" and a conversation that normally turned into a fight, ended there.
I kept coming up with different responses depending on the issue at hand. I put away the old stories and responded kindly yet authentically in the present moment.
Of course this didn't change things overnight, but before long, I was having too much fun with it, and no way was I going back to the old scripts.
After his initial shock, my husband understood what was going on and joined in the fun.
Changing our scripts took effort, a sense of humor, and a willing openness, and it was done in tiny steps.
It might have also saved my sanity!
Do people know what your response will be every time? Do they expect it? Surprise your mother, your girlfriend, your boss, your coworker, your spouse, and yourself with a different answer and see what happens.
Here are five more suggestions for doing things differently. Pick one, then gradually apply that principle to other areas in your life and watch what happens!
1. Get lost on purpose.
Let the GPS recalculate directions all it wants.
Take a different route to or from work. You never know what you might see. A beautiful landmark, a pond with swans, a gorgeous tree you hadn't seen before, a park, a parade.
Sometimes, if I have an extra half hour, I get lost on purpose, driving through new neighborhoods and checking out the landscaping.
I always get creative inspiration.
If someone asks why you were late, just say you got lost. It's a pretty good excuse anytime.
2. Investigate different shopping possibilities.
Do you shop at the same grocery store and complain about what they don't have?
Are the aisles so familiar you could find your way blindfolded?
Go to a different grocery store a bit further away from home, even if it's the same chain store. I did this the other day and ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in years. What a delight to catch up with her after having lost contact for so long. I also found an item I'd been looking for and couldn't find in my regular store.
A chore turned into a fun trip that accomplished more than I'd imagined.
3. Change your walking path.
Do you always leave the house, turn right to the main street, then left and come back the same way?
Take a different path on your walks. I did this and found treasure. I went for a walk in my suburban neighborhood, decided to investigate the small walkway to the high school and guess what I found hidden there between the houses?
A dirt path! Several dirt paths, in fact, hidden in a wooded area. I've always wanted a dirt path to walk on and it was right there, under my nose.
4. What kind of neighbor are you?
Do you even know who your neighbors are?
I've seen neighbors enter the elevator in a NYC high-rise building and stare at the floor panel without a word. But then others greet me and find a way to engage.
Stop and chat with the shy lady walking her dog on your street. You never know, you might just make her day, or she might end up becoming a trusted friend.
Be curious, say hello, greet someone, and give him or her a smile. You might not get one back, but who cares?
You be the change.
5. Investigate the local library.
Do you know where your public library is?
How long has it been since you last visited the one in your city? Never? Since you or your children last attended grade school?
Time to check it out!
They have stuff there! Like... books, videos, movies, classes, people and help.
Mine has book club discussions, lunch meetings and author visits. It's quiet and pleasant and smells of books. Go work there for a bit, bring home something you want to read, chat with some new/old acquaintances.
Do something unexpected today.
Once you get good at this you'll find it incredibly fun, like I do, and can start tackling the big changes, like changing your story, your thoughts, your mind, even your life.
For now, go look for treasure out there by doing one thing differently.