In this episode Lisa shares how understanding your Regular Unconscious Thoughts (RUTS) can unlock an unlimited supply of Energetic Choice, and how making small shifts will open you up to a more conscious, created life of possibility, growth and gratitude.
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How Going From “I Can’t” to “I Get To” Changes Everything
On a Sunday morning not too long ago, my friend Diane called me. Her glorious and much needed weekend away in the country was being cut short so she could get back to the city on time for a work event that she had committed to attend that evening.
That sounds fun I said.
“Does it?” she replied, trying to believe me.
She had told her colleague weeks ago that she would attend and, despite the fact that she wasn’t feeling very energized about it, she was going anyways.
What I know about my friend Diane is that one of her strongest self-guiding principles is to do what she says she’s gonna do. She has demonstrated this time and time again in the way she shows up for her colleagues, her family and for the last 40 years, as my friend. Sidebar she’s a lawyer - if you need one; Diane is definitely someone you’d want on your side.
I admired her as she mustered up the fortitude to pack away her sweat pants and snugglies and head back to the city to put on her cocktail attire. I smiled to myself, from my cozy cottage on the lake where I had absolutely NO intention of changing out of MY well worn sweats - but completely relating to how hard it can be sometimes to do things that we don’t feel like doing.
But let’s face it, we don’t live in a bubble, and there will always be things demanding our attention that we wish were easier, more comfortable, alluring, or just plain fun to do. But for the things that we know we're going to do anyways, (like my friend Diane) even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, we always have a choice about HOW we are going to show up.
I call this your Energetic Choice.
Your range of energetic choice increases dramatically when you draw awareness around what your REGULAR UNCONSCIOUS THOUGHTS (RUT) let’s just call it what it is - a rut!
It’s pretty simple really. When you operate from your RUT- your regular unconscious thoughts, you are automatically & habitually reacting in the same way in the same situations ergo in these RUT driven responses the outcome will always be the same.
Listen, no one's trying to tell you what to do here, it’s completely up to you if you’d like to live a default future.
Albert Einstein was attributed with the quote:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
But here’s the distinction; when you are operating from your RUT (regular unconscious thoughts) you aren’t expecting different results, you are expecting the same results. You are immune to possibilities and inextricably attached and tethered to the same outcome.
Sidebar: Even when it has worked for you in the past, it’s important to remember to make your energetic choices consciously and be sure that you are choosing them because they are serving you in the moment and not because that’s what you always do.
How interested would you be to know how understanding your RUTS can unlock an unlimited supply of energetic choice, and how making small shifts to your default responses will open you up to a more conscious, created life of possibility, growth and gratitude?
Let’s consider the story of my friend Diane.
She was able to find the energy and motivation when she connected it to her value of doing what she says she’s going to do and that’s awesome.
But in this instance, her RUT (regular unconscious thought) was actually a fear-based value leaving her in what I call the state of “I have to”.
“I have to show up because that’s what I said I would do.”
And listen, I understand the need to soldier through, and there are times when it feels like that’s the only choice we have- especially if it’s expected of us or associated with the limiting beliefs of what success in the field is supposed to look like “work harder” “say yes” “Do better”? That’s why people get so much done under stress. I can only imagine all the all-nighter’s Diane must have pulled at law school to make it through!
While helping to motivate her to go to the event that night, Diane’s “I have to” mindset was fueled not by want but rather by need. Although need can catalyze a certain amount of energy towards a goal, “I have to” is an unsustainable energetic choice that can deplete your energy and engagement when you need it most - because it requires force. And force burns up a lot of energy.
“I have to” can also trigger resentment, judgment and even anger - especially when things like traffic, a run in your nylons or an urgent call from one of your children or colleagues inevitably comes up and threatens to impede your progress.
It’s no surprise that they say “when it rains it pours”!
When you are operating from “I have to”, your ability to navigate and handle these kinds of obstacles is extremely limited, because your energy is literally already being spent on soldiering through. This of course results not only in being late for the event in Diane’s case but also in creating more stress & upset in other areas of her life. Aka doing neither thing very well.
With each obstacle that might interfere with Diane’s need to show up, it gets harder and harder to connect to her value and much much easier to slip back down to resentment and overwhelm…what I call the state of “I can’t”.
Do you see how that works?
While I was on the phone that morning with my friend Diane, she was texted by the colleague who was hosting the event that night and he low-key said something that triggered Diane to the state of what I call “I should”. He didn’t ask, so much as strongly suggest that Diane speak that night at the event. (keeping in mind she was already reluctantly pulling herself together and soldiering through as she transitioned from her country zone to her city self).
“I kinda feel like I should”, she told me. But I don’t really want to. She felt stuck.
Diane wasn’t saying “I can’t do the speech”
Nor was she saying “I have to do the speech” (she had used up all that energy to even go to the event, remember?)
She was now in an energetic state of “I should” which is fueled by obligation or sometimes even fear of regret.
I often say that “should” is just “could” with shame.
When was the last time someone told you or that you said to yourself “I should” do something? How did it make you feel? When Diane’s colleague suggested she speak that night at the event, she felt guilty, obligated, put on the spot.
“I should” is an interesting state which has potential to raise your capacity of choice but can just as easily quickly go the other way. It’s kinda of the tipping point toward making more conscious based choices with higher energy or falling back to fear based choices where regret, fear of missing out, guilt and shame reside.
"If you wanted to do the speech could you?" I asked my friend Diane.
“Sure,” she said. “But I don’t want to.”
It’s often easier to identify what you don’t want than what you do want. It’s also not uncommon to move toward things you thought you wanted - but that’s for another time.
“So what do you want?” I asked her.
“I just wanna go to the event and try to enjoy myself” she told me.
“Do you want to “try” to enjoy it? Or do you actually want to enjoy it?” I asked.
“I want to enjoy it!!”
I felt her stress ease and the pressure slip away as she shifted into the state of “I Want To” .
When we want to do something, we feel more confident, energized and connected and we can start to make more choices about how we show up.
“What about the speech?” I asked, curious to see what was opening up for her in that moment.
She paused, and then;
“You know what, I’m suddenly feeling very aware how fortunate I am to be in a position where “I get to" decide.”
“It’s what I call choice with gratitude," I said. “I Get To”. It allows you to be in the moment with whatever you are facing and appreciate all that it offers.”
“Yes she said! I get to decide and I’m going to thank him for the opportunity and respectfully decline the offer to speak. And you know what else is really funny? I’m kinda of looking forward to going now.”
Listen, we all get in a rut sometimes and fall into knee jerk reactivity. We are hardwired for it. It’s universal, in our DNA. I have worked with creative people my whole life on some of the biggest stages in the world. I’ve experienced first hand what it feels like to perform at the highest level and, quite literally, leave it all on the dance floor. But to be perfectly honest it is the kitchen floor where some of my most difficult and often regrettable performances have taken place because I fell into my rut and lost my capacity for energetic choice.
And in my lifetime of working with people, I have discovered that whether you are a lawyer, a mother, an artist or an entrepreneur our struggles are universal. Our default reactions are limiting our access to a healthier more energetic engagement with our teams, our families, our goals and ourselves. So I encourage you to get out of your rut and see what opens up when you go from "I Can't" to “I Get To” in everything you do.