How Things Really Work

How Things Really Work

“Do what you should, and things will work out.”

Does that sound familiar to you?

When this belief statement came up in a private coaching session with a client I recognized it immediately because I was raised to believe it, too.

“Do what you should, and things will work out,” was touted as the basic formula for success and was a close relative of the mid-western work ethic of “hard work = money.” If you’ve ever felt frustrated over working hard and not making money, that belief could be why.

How can you tell the difference between a belief and a truth? One big clue is that you don’t actually like it. I call those “adaptive beliefs” or “life lessons.” They’re rules about how the world works that you don’t like but had to adapt to during childhood in order to survive.

One way to free yourself from a life lesson is to apply some simple transformational logic. Here’s what Eva came up with regarding “hard work = money”:

While it’s true that hard work can equal money, and no work can equal no money, hard work can also equal no money, and no work can equal lots of money.

Wait, really? No work can equal lots of money? Yep! I’ll never forget Eva’s laughter when she phoned me to say she had just gotten proof. She’d heard on the radio that Michael Jackson was still making millions of dollars even after he was dead!!! That was her breakthrough moment.

Doing what you should so things will work out is also an adaptive belief. The truth is that no matter how careful you are about doing what you should, things will sometimes work out and sometimes they won’t.

Yet it’s hard to let go of the belief that “doing what you should = things working out,” so when things don’t work out, even if you are sure you did everything “right” you question yourself, not the belief. “What else should I have done?” 

That’s crazy talk, right? Actually, no. It’s not crazy at all if it eventually leads you to question the “should.” Because when you realize that what you should be doing is actually following your inner guidance which is based on what you want, like and love then the “life lesson” is actually true and it flips.

When you get that what you should do is actually what you want to do, the new meaning of “Do what you should, and things will work out,” becomes:

“Do what you want, and things will work out.”

At first glance, you will probably like that better than the “should” statement, but if you also have the adaptive belief that you want the wrong things, then you might find the “want” statement scary. If you think you want things you shouldn’t, that could explain why you found “Do what you should…” so easy to adapt to in the first place. Our brains really do work like that. 

So, if “Do what you want…” makes you uneasy, you might be one of the millions of people who were taught as children that you want the wrong things, or that wanting things is a problem in itself. You can still hear this today when you walk into any store where parents are shopping with children. Even I said things like, “Put that back. You always want everything,” or “You don’t want that. You want this,” or, “You should want this. It’s way better,” back before I understood the importance of validating what children want, whether they can have it or not.

Here’s the truth about wanting: Wanting is the source of human motivation. Liking something is a preference and a unique expression of you, but wanting something puts you in action IF you also believe what you want is possible.

Because of that, I’ve started to write the self-motivation formula like this:

Want + Possibility = Action

So to have things work out the way you want, it makes sense to start with what you want not necessarily what you think you should do, although when you get in touch with your inner guidance you will find they become one and the same.



PS A few days after coaching my client through this breakthrough, she had a frustrating setback in a job search and called me saying, “I did everything right this time, and I still didn’t get the job!” All I had to do was say, “So you did what you should, and it didn’t work out. The world must be broken,” and she burst out laughing because that’s exactly what she was thinking. A simple reminder of her old belief brought her right back to the truth.

Then a funny thing happened. The feeling of a door being slammed in her face gave way to the realization that she had simply not gotten the job yet. Believing that “it didn’t work out,” she had mentally discounted the counteroffer she’d received – that she could work with the company in a different capacity that could eventually lead to the job she wanted. Back in touch with what she wanted and seeing new possibilities, she left the call ready to take action.

If you’d like to get in touch with what you want, discover your inner guidance, or break through a struggle of your own, our Authorized Language of Listening® Coaches would love to work with you. You can contact them here to set up an individual coaching session or a series.

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