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Tuning Out and Tuning In

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

What do you do when confronted by a challenge that stumps you? No matter how you look at the situation there doesn't seem to be many options.

When this happens to me I head out to a park or hiking trail. In nature, I've found I’m able to expand my thinking and gain perspective. Several years ago, I faced a decision that had major implications on the course of my life. During a break in a conference that I was attending in Houston, I explored the Houston Arboretum with the hope of gaining some clarity.

I found a comfortable bench beneath a shade tree and closed my eyes to listen to the sounds of nature. I was enjoying myself when a loud train rumbled by; its noise blocking out all other sounds. A wave of frustration flowed through me as I imagined the train to represent the decision I faced. Like the train, it had rumbled into my life and consumed my attention.

The train passed and nature’s sounds returned: birds chirping, a crow cawing, a squirrel rustling in the brown, dry leaves. I reflected that these sounds were present the entire time-they hadn’t ceased while the train passed. I just couldn't hear them.

Like those sounds of nature, new perspectives and attitudes offering possibilities are present behind the noise of the challenges and decisions we face.

Tuning Out to Tune In

What decision or challenge are you facing today? Imagine that possibilities to overcome the challenge and achieve your goal exist hidden behind the pressure to respond. How might you tune out the noise to hear them?

Blocking out the noise of a challenge or struggle is difficult. Limiting-self talk tells us that we don’t have many choices or we need to act fast so we don’t miss out or slow down so we don’t screw up all the while reminding us that people are watching so don’t embarrass yourself. Whew!

Let me suggest steps to help you tune out the noise and tune into the possibilities.

First. When you are stuck remind yourself that there are more possibilities. Be prepared for that inner voice to respond saying, “No there aren’t” or “I’ve already considered all the possibilities.” If this happens say out loud, “There are more possibilities than I am considering.”

Naming this truth begins the process. Good job!

Second. Ask yourself how this issue is important to you. What is at stake for you in its resolution? Be specific. This step offers clarity.

Third. Name the emotions you are feeling. For each emotion, seek to identify its source. If you are afraid, ask, “Of what or who?” If you’re worried, ask, “Who am I trying to please? or what's at risk?” This step identifies the real issue that the challenge you’re facing is raising.

Fourth. Reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself from the first three steps. How might you apply what you’ve learned to the challenge you face?

Fifth. Imagine a friend is faced with the same struggle you face. What would you advise them? This strategy creates a new perspective by allowing you to step out of the issue. Whatever you might suggest to your friend, consider that option for yourself.

Coaching accelerates a client’s inherent problem-solving ability by inviting the client to reflect on their own self-limiting thoughts and attitudes. Freed from judgment and working within a confidential setting, clients explore solutions that they have within them. Coaching helps clients tune out problems and tune-in to solutions.

If you’re stuck ruminating over an issue and want to get moving toward your preferred future, schedule a free Welcome to Coaching session with me today. Let’s explore how we can tune-in to your inner expert and get you thriving!

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