hamster wheel

Don’t Stay Stuck in the If…. Then… Hamster Wheel

The theme of the week is if/then thinking. I even got caught up in it myself. “If/then” is when you say something like If this happens, then I will do that. A variation is when this happens, then I will do that. Sometimes it makes sense. “If the weather is clear, I will play volleyball” is a good example. While you could play volleyball in the rain, most of us don’t want to do that.

When you’re using it ineffectively, it becomes a hamster wheel to keep you stuck.¬†Here are some examples of when it doesn’t really work well.

  • If you respect me, I will respect you.
  • I won’t be open and honest until you do.
  • When I feel confident, then I will do it.
  • If I win a million dollars, then I will follow my dreams.

This is a hamster wheel because what you are wanting is some guarantee of safety before you act. You’re waiting for something outside of your control to give you a green light before you go. It’s a passive approach to life that most likely leads to frustration, disappointment, and powerlessness.

If You Respect Me, I Will Respect You

Let’s look at the first one. This one is an example of values. Would you give someone else control over what you value? You are doing that if you adopt the belief that people don’t get respect unless they give it. Respect is about you, not the other person. Respectful people value manners and want to reflect that others are worthy individuals. Even when people aren’t acting as their highest and best selves, they can still be worthy people.

When we treat people as not worthy, they are more likely to live up to your expectations. Being kind encourages peace, interdependence, and positive regard.¬†Showing respect gives people the benefit of the doubt that they are having a bad moment. It doesn’t judge them as bad, unworthy people. If you are a respectful person, show respect. It doesn’t matter what other people do. Your behavior is a reflection of you, not them.

I Won’t Be Open and Honest Until You Do

Someone has to go first. If both people are waiting for the other to lead, nothing will happen. You could have a lot in common that deepens the relationship, but since neither is willing to speak, that doesn’t get discovered. If you want openness and honesty, give it. It will show others how to share space with you. If they don’t open up to you, that’s their choice. That gives you more information about who and where they are. This is honest too.

Being open and honest is more about you than someone else. This says to the world, “I am okay with me. I am okay with showing people who I am. Love me. Appreciate me. Or don’t, but let it be because you’ve really seen me and not some mask of me.” We all want that. We all have the power to give ourselves that.

When I Feel Confident, Then I Will Do It

Confidence comes from doing a thing over and over again until it’s smooth and easy. The more you risk and succeed, the more confidence you will have because you learn skills along the way. Maybe you learn that not succeeding is not the end of the world, so that gives you confidence to try again. Or maybe you learn that you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take. So you learn to go for it. Everything is an opportunity to learn something. The more you learn, the more confident you will be when encountering new situations because knowledge can be applied to many different situations.

So when you’re scared, be scared. Then do it anyway. The process of being in the game will either help you to succeed or give you feedback to do better the second time.

If I Win a Million Dollars, Then I Will Follow My Dream

Your dream is worthy of you right now. Waiting for something outside of your control to happen probably means you won’t ever achieve it. If it’s your dream, doesn’t it deserve a shot at becoming reality? Maybe now is not the best time. Maybe you can’t do it all the way you want to. But you could start moving energy towards it in small ways. You could do research, save money, work in a related field. Dreaming is not creating. Creating requires commitment and energy. Along the way you may find that you really can do it. Or maybe you figure out that it wasn’t such a great dream for you after all. If you sit back and wait for a fairy to sprinkle magic dust on you, you’ll probably die with regret wondering “what if.”

When you have an if/then moment, ask yourself if you really want the “if” part to hold you back. Is it practical? Is it realistic? If it’s a matter of convenience or comfort, do you want to let that keep you on the hamster wheel. Or do you want to get off and make something wonderful happen?

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