Thursday, July 9, 2009

Are You On Mute?

Yesterday was one of those crazy Summer days that those of us with younger children and who happen to be working from home could relate to. Doors to the patio slamming shut and then opening up again two minutes later, little voices squealing in delight, water running, wet foot prints all over the floors, grass and dirt tracking in, the dog eating the leftover crumbs and ice cream off the patio floor, pantry door and drawers wide open with the intermittent call: MOM, where is the sunscreen? MOM, do we have any chips?, MOM, can we have soda?,… All this happened in the afternoon after a few hours of peace to myself when they were in their Summer Camps for the morning. Needless to say, I didn’t get any work done. I was on a coaching tele-class and had to put myself on mute, so the other attendees wouldn’t hear the insanity around me. After the class, exhausted trying to focus and ignore the madness, I started to pick up the bathing suits and the mess all around the house like cleaning up after a wild party and I realized that I had been on mute the whole day. When energies are flying high like they have been with my kids in the Summer, I find myself on mute.

My thought for today is about just that, being on mute or holding back your voice. Where and when do you put yourself on mute? When do you stop engaging and just do what is necessary for that moment without thinking about what you really want? I know that for me, it is exhausting being on mute, I have things to say and if I hold back too long, it could get pretty ugly, just ask my kids! However, there are people who are continuously on mute. They have disengaged from what is happening. Some are that way at work, at home with their spouses, with certain family members, etc. Is it that we are afraid of speaking our truth? Why? The potential repercussions could be dangerous? Why rock the boat unnecessarily? Or is it that we don’t care about what is happening? We hate our job so much that it just doesn’t matter what is going on at work, we show up, do our job and get out at 5. Or is it that we are doing it temporarily? That is the case for me and my kids, I know that Summer will be over and when September is here, everything will be back to normal. I choose to let them run a little wild in the Summer to get it all out of their system. Some of us put up with a job we hate because we have bills to pay, but we know that it is temporary. Once we have found our ideal job, we’re out of there. That makes it bearable. Unfortunately, too many people stay in conditions that are far from ideal for far too long and then the disengaged, lack luster existence becomes part of their consciousness that they carry around everywhere. The other danger to living on mute for too long, is that since your voice hasn’t just disappeared, it shows up as cynicism, apathy, sarcasm, and negativity at all the wrong times. It becomes part of your personality. You become resentful of others who are happy and seem to have it all.

I met someone this past weekend who was in that negative, disengaged place I am writing about. He had a million reasons why he shouldn’t speak up or do something different. He was a husband and a father who had other people to think about. His needs were not important, or so he claimed. I noticed that he wouldn’t look me in the eye when he spoke. I realized that he was in so deep that one friendly conversation was not going to get him out of the hole he had dug himself into. I spoke to someone else this week who seemed hopeless after losing his job and his identity. Somehow, he didn’t feel like he could do anything about it. It cost too much he told me. He’d rather stay on mute for at least a little bit longer.

On this beautiful Summer day, I’d like to leave you with the following questions: Where have you given up? Where have you resigned yourself to what you don’t like? What is the cost? Are you willing to change your position? What might that change offer you? I ask myself the same questions and I decide that I am going to go on the “slip and slide” in the back yard today with my kids, regardless of what the neighbors might think!

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