March 2015 – I just returned from my 4-day birthday cruise! It was my first time on a BIG cruise ship – 2400 people – and honestly, I wasn’t so sure I was going to like it. But… surprise! It was AMAZING! Not only were the food and activities great – but most importantly: Everyone on board was in SUCH a great mood. Kids were so happy that they could eat ice cream for breakfast and jump in a pool all day long that they exhibited a freedom and maturity and politeness that is a rarity these days. All the adults were relaxed and just seemed HAPPY.
My cruise cohort was a new and very special friend who laughs constantly and sees the best in people and situations. At one point my friend made a comment about the two of us both being extroverts.
“Me, an extrovert?” I asked, perplexed. She laughed and replied, “What… you think of yourself as an INTROVERT?!”
I started thinking about it. Because yes, I viewed myself as an introvert pretty much my whole life. But in reality, that really hasn’t been true ffor many years – and yet I hadn’t fully updated my VISION of myself… because old Mind Loops were still rolling around in my head.
The Old Loops
When I was a child, I was surrounded by very strong personalities and sometimes it was a challenge to get a word in edgewise. Mind Loops started growing in me at that time that said: “What you have to say has little value.” As a result, I grew more and more shy.
This introversion gained momentum until I could hardly speak at all to people I didn’t know when I was 13. So when I turned 14 I made a conscious decision to not live that way anymore.
The day I made that decision, I said to myself, “I’m going to talk when the teacher tells me to be quiet NO MATTER WHAT. I have to learn how to not be so GOOD.”
Guess what happened? When the teacher repeatedly told me to stop talking to my friend and I repeatedly ignored her, she finally yelled in exasperation: “Barbara! What’s got INTO you? I’m going to have to MOVE you to a different seat!”
Woo-hoo! I got into TROUBLE! Success!! This was a day of celebration for me. I had broken the mold. And best of all: I had TALKED.
Over the years I continued my battle against the Mind Loops that told me I couldn’t say what I needed or wanted to say, or that what I had to say didn’t matter or was unworthy or stupid. I didn’t know what Mind Loops WERE for all of those years, but I certainly could feel their cruel pressure.
As most of you know, I now am a SPEAKER and SINGER. Haha! Pretty ironic since both are about opening my mouth and taking a chance with what comes out. As a result, I think I’m much more of an extrovert than I ever envisioned myself to be.
One of the greatest gifts I received from my cruise was watching my friend model friendliness and openness with EVERYBODY, ALL THE TIME. I engage with people quite a bit… but my friend is a true master at this. Her ease with others rubbed off on me… And after 5 days of this, I noticed how natural and wonderful it felt to simply CONNECT.
I’m now very aware of when I have an urge to avert eye contact or DISconnect with others. And just like when I was 14, I’m making the conscious DECISION to open up and chit chat and laugh with strangers and simply CONNECT.
It has made a tremendous difference in the joy I feel on a daily and even moment to moment basis. The fight against Mind Loops continues!
YOUR CHALLENGE THIS WEEK:
1) Ask yourself:
a) Do YOU close down to connecting with others? This may come in the form of looking away when people catch your eye; not chatting with cashiers, servers, etc; or looking at the ground and not smiling or connecting with people when out walking…
b) What Mind Loops (repetitive negative inner dialogue) do YOU hear in your head about speaking up, expressing your needs and wants, asking for things… or simply saying, “Hello!” ?
2) I challenge you to SMILE AT EVERYONE (in safe situations) for ONE WEEK.
Why do this? Because YOU will change. The physiology of you lifting the corners of your mouth ALONE – even when you don’t FEEL like smiling – has a HUGE affect on the mood hormones in your brain.
AND you will be creating a wave of joy wherever you go. People WILL respond differently to you.
Try it for a week – even a day! – and tell me what you notice.
I think connecting more with others is one of the reasons I had such a tremendous time on my birthday cruise.
Wishing you a beautiful, smile-filled week!
To Your Happiness,