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An unrelenting serenity chaser, Mark Twain famously confessed: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
Who else feels like they’re battling overcrowding in their head? Trauma from the past few years, uncertainty in the present, and concerns about the future are all jumbled up in a blender like a toxic worry smoothie.
If we could project current mind streams onto a screen, would it look like scrolling one unsettling thought after another, and another? No wonder so many of us are struggling to make progress.
So how do we break the spiral to make room for ideas and goals? What can we do to level out?
I won’t sugarcoat it — my teeth were pretty messed up when I was a kid. Fortunately, my parents took me to the orthodontist and they put me in braces, and I mean headgear, the whole shebang.
At the best of times, these braces (or brackets as they’re called in some countries) were uncomfortable and made me self-conscious. At the worst of times, they hurt and were downright embarrassing — bye, bye chicken wings and corn on the cob.
But you know what these braces also did, albeit after many years of discomfort? They realigned my teeth. And once they were taken off, the discomfort ended while the positive results continued.
So this week, I’ll use that analogy from my childhood to deploy the teachable moment we all need right now to get us back into alignment.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- How humans avoid discomfort
- Accepting that fine-tuning never ends
- Gentle, consistent pressure in the right places
- When you can’t even articulate your plans
- Biting off too much or too little
Listen to the Full Episode
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello, It is 08:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 7:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. I am an intercultural strategist, transformation facilitator, and solution-oriented coach, and I am on a mission to help you adapt & succeed through ANY life transition.
You know that feeling when you’re scrolling through social media and you come upon a post and it starts like this, “I don’t know who needs to hear this but…” And it is exactly what you needed to hear that day. Today is going to be one of those days for some of you. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I know, based on conversations I’ve had with my clients that it’s going to be quite a few of you.
So here it goes. First of all, I’m talking to those of you who are at a tough crossroads. You have something in front of you, but you’re scared to make a leap, and those of you who know what you want, but you feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to start. Or maybe you don’t even know where to start, but you know you can’t really stay stuck. And even some of you who are feeling pulled to make a business or a career change, even though everything is actually fine and you’re just struggling because you know you want to be in a different place. So if any of those sound like you, good, you are in the right place.
And today is going to be a short one. But I do think for those of you who are listening, it’s going to be exactly what you need to hear.
Are you ready for it? Here’s the advice. You need to get braces.
Yes, braces. I don’t know, maybe in other anglophone cultures they call them brackets, but let me explain. What are braces for? I’m wondering how many of you have had braces? I had braces years and years and years and years ago, but they lasted for like four years and I had all of the things like full brackets, the bands, and the headgear. It was really really sexy.
So what are braces for?
- They are to correct overcrowding. Correct overcrowding in your head. So you can already see how this might apply to you. How many of you feel like your head is overcrowded with worries, with ideas, with dilemmas, with a future that hasn’t happened yet, with ideas from the past that you can’t change? Overcrowding. Braces are to correct overcrowding.
- Braces are also for correcting overbites. All right. So I’m talking to all of you who are biting off more than you can chew.
- Braces are to move what is in your head forward and into alignment. All those things you have in your head with an orthodontist, it’s the teeth. But for us, it’s our dreams, it’s our values, it’s our plans, it’s who we’re becoming. Moving what’s in her head forward in an alignment.
So you need to get braces so you can stop the overcrowding, correct the overbite, and move what’s in your head forward and in alignment. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
So we know in the real world, I had really messed up teeth. And I was really excited to stop the overcrowding, correct the overbite, and move that was what was precious to me, my teeth, in my head, in alignment, right? Why aren’t we as eager as an awkward teenager as I was to get my teeth moved? Why are we not embracing our own lives in the same way? Why aren’t we running toward alignment when we’ve got this overcrowding, over biting, and this need for alignment in our own lives?
If you, for example, were a parent or an auntie or uncle, or caretaker for a young person who had really obvious overcrowding, overbite, or need of alignment in their mouth, you would say, “Hey, if we can finance these braces, and we can find an expert, let’s go for it.” Right? You’d want to support them so that they have less pain. They have easier biting. They have no long-term shifts that they have to work on, etc. But why would we support someone on that level but not in our own lives? What’s going on in their own lives? Why don’t we want to put braces on our priorities on our dreams? On our goals? Harness those puppies and get them in alignment.
Why wouldn’t we do that? If it can do this amazing transformation like it did for my teeth. Honestly, I don’t want to promise this to you but there’s a part of me that wants to promise you. I will show you pictures of me and my teeth before and after braces because it’s a big laugh, because it was also the 80s which has a bonus effect of a really bad hair style.
In any case, if we can create that transformation, our own lives. For those of you who’ve had braces like me, why wouldn’t you do that for your own life? Why wouldn’t we want that same sort of transformation for us?
Okay, and here’s why. Let’s say you’re an adult, why wouldn’t you just run towards braces? Because it’s uncomfortable and creates discomfort. And it’s an investment in time and money. That’s why, you don’t do it unless you have to. Unless you know it’s what’s right for you. And that’s what’s going on, maybe with you and your life right now. I’m calling them life braces right now. But why wouldn’t you want to put on life braces to get that overcrowding, out of your head, change your overbite in terms of biting off, more than you can chew, and moving what’s in your head, your dreams, your hopes, your goals your values, and put them in alignment. Because we’re honestly human. And we want to avoid discomfort. We want to avoid investing time, energy, and money unless we can help it.
But the thing is just like braces, there is a short-term investment, but for a long-term result. And no one wants real braces, but they do want the results. So I want you to think about that. Are you hesitating in your own life to do that? And let’s look to how we get results with, teeth braces, to see what that would look like in your own life.
So to get results with an orthodontist, what do they do?
- Level and Align. The first stage of orthodontics is to move your teeth so they’re side by side. In my work, with my clients. It’s about knowing where you want to go and aiming for alignment with your goals, your values, your plans. Whether that’s in your life, your business, or your health. So your first step, where you’re at, for those of you at the top of this episode who are thinking, “Yeah, that does sound like me. I am someone who is at a crossroads.” Or, “I am someone who’s got too much going on in her head and struggling to make progress.” Or, “I don’t know where to start.” If that sounded like you at the beginning; What can you do to level and align? What is your first step? Can you name your goals? Can you name your values? Have you articulated your plans? Are you giving yourself permission to even name those things?
Name those things and naming that leveling, in this case, is the very first step. So, even having permission to want. I know that a lot of women that I work with struggle with even admitting that they have wants.
And Kasia Urbaniak in her book Unbound says, “We have no control over what we desire. That’s just how it goes. We have desire. It’s more, what do we do with that desire?” So giving ourselves permission to name that and to own that is the first step.
Level and Align. Align is where it gets interesting. Align is where like braces, braces work by exerting constant pressure on your teeth and jaws to change their position. But the question is for you; What is it that you need to do? What kind of pressure – and I do mean that in a positive way, could be an invitation to do things differently. It could be inspiration. It could be the way that you’ve changed the way you navigate things even in your own work or life. What are you doing constantly and consistently to put yourself under a gentle, loving supportive, but constant pressure to keep moving forward? To keep making changes?
And for you, that might be to join a group. Grab an accountability partner. Hire an expert,. Sign up for the class. Get a coach. What is it that will help you get in alignment?
Is it to put post-It notes on your fridge, right? It depends on what goals you have, how big they are, how much pressure you need. And I mean that in a positive way. How much reminders and motivation and structure you need to make movement in your life.
So that’s the first step; Level and Align. And then an orthodontist, what do they do when someone has braces? They work on the Bite Issues. So, for us, in our lives, where do we need to correct any of our bite problems? Are we biting off too little? Are we staying small and not being courageous enough to take leaps in our lives? Or are we biting off more than we can chew and doing too much? Maybe too much for others and not enough for ourselves.
- With our Bite Issues is to identify what our tendencies are. When are we biting off more than we can chew? When are we taking too tiny of nibbles out of our own projects? And what steps can you take to stay motivated so that what’s going on in your head isn’t the thing that’s stopping you?
So number one, Level and Align. Two is Correct Bite Issues. The third part is the fun part. If you really have leveled, you’ve named your goals, your plans, your values. You have created structures around you to put that pressure on, in the most loving, positive way to create alignment of those things. And then you’ve corrected those bite issues, making sure that you’re monitoring yourself, you’re not biting off more than you can chew, but you’re not nibbling too small towards what you really love.
- All that’s left is Fine Tuning. Just like in the final months of braces, when you are getting treated for your braces, they do small adjustments so that everything is in the perfect position before they take off the braces or remove this structure. And that’s for you. Once you go through those first two steps. You can enjoy the fine tuning process. But you can’t get to fine tuning until you’ve done step one or two.
And the thing is, it is just a process. The good news is that when we think about what is between you and your goal, your dream business or the new professional direction, or the level of connection in your family, or the quality of health that you’re going for? Honestly, just like braces, the pressure is only periodic that when you spend a short period of time making the right tweaks and getting the right support, that everything then becomes automated.
So, it’s just a band flow. So instead of thinking about the discomfort, which people usually do, when they’re facing a big change, the time investment or the money investment, think about the other side that you get results that last and that actually the pressure is only when you go in for adjustments and are shifting patterns. That these things do become automated over time.
I was just sharing that with my clients about straight talk, about real change in our lives. And how I remember when I first tried to make my health a priority, I ended up going for a run for 12 minutes and my lungs were burning. And I hated it. I hated it. I think I started to hate it at like five minutes. I think I looked at my timer at eight and I quit at 12, but that was just the beginning. The pressure was on at first, but then it got better over time. And now running is who I am. It’s what I need to do to give my best to everyone, in my day, in my week, in my life because it’s a given. I need to move my body. And that came from pressure on in terms of, “Okay, I’m gonna get out there. I’m gonna put my shoes on. I’m going to go for five minutes, eight minutes, 12 minutes. I’m gonna go for 12 minutes again.” Now of a sudden I’m like, “Hey that felt good. I’m going to go for 15,” right?
So this is a process. And it’s worth it. And just like with braces when you’re done, you get to let your hard work shine. On the other side of those efforts, of those adjustments, of the leveling and aligning, of correcting your bites, of the fine-tuning, those results are forever. Okay. Admittedly with real braces. I see my teeth moving and maybe you need a little tweak here or there later but not compared to what you’ve invested already.
So I don’t know who needs to hear this today but for those who this really resonates with just get the braces, It’s temporary. It’s worth it. Start the degree. Do the counseling, Find a new job. Do the parenting course. Invest in the business. Higher the trainer. Get the running buddy. Whatever it is, do the damn thing and you’re gonna thank me for it. Just like I thank my parents for my braces. I would have loved to say no to that, but man, I’m thankful for that now.
But I know that some of us just need to nudge and today is my nudge. And there are so many things that we all are facing right now. Our own crossroads, our own overcrowded heads, our own overbites in our lives, right? Our own levels of fine tuning that we need. They are limitless because we are complex human beings. So I’m not going to say that there is a one-size-fits-all answer. But what I do know is that if you’re paying attention to the ways in which you want to align in your life and you’re courageous to say yes to taking the next step, that by being consistent and applying constant support towards those goals, dreams, values, you are going to be on the other side. And you are going to be so happy that you are.
And I’m also not naive. I know for me, there are some things I can DIY it and it works. But there’s a lot of other things where I do much better when I’m guided by an expert or when I’ve got accountability built in or a sparring partner to help me reduce the overcrowding in the head. To help me correct my own overbite, so to speak. And that is exactly what I’m here for and why I created my VIP Session Series to support people with whatever ambitious goal, transition, or transformation you’re going through. So go ahead and check it out.
And by the way, for those of you who have expressed interest in Expat Coach Coalition, that’s exactly what my graduates have been saying that they were so happy that they took the leap and invested in themselves because now on the other side, they’ve got life-long strategies to support them in their business, as they serve expats around the world. And I mentioned that specifically because I’ve had some strange email issues myself and my assistant, and some people have said they haven’t heard from me and I wanted to make sure I did a shout-out on the podcast.
If you have applied to Expat Coach Coalition and have not heard back, please check your promo folders because we have responded to each and every person individually as well as followed up after any consults we’ve done. So do be in touch because we want to talk to you. All right. I want to hear who needed to hear this today? Who needed to hear this? Tell me in an name email, tell me the DM or hop on social media and let me know. Who knows that where you are now and standing between there and where you want to be are braces? And those braces are really doing what you got to do, to level and align, correct your bite issues, and then some fine tuning. And that you know deep down it’s honestly, you’re making it a bigger deal than you need to because it is temporary. That process. We do the tweaks with the braces and the moving is temporary and you don’t have to do it alone. There are tools and structures that move you through that. And on the other side, we’re talking results that last.
All right. Thank you so much for being with me today in this unique episode of IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. Thank you for listening. Steady advice in an unsteady world. I will leave you with the words of leader, Max Depree: “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
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