THE BLOG
07/07/2014 05:05 pm ET Updated Sep 06, 2014

How to Handle the Other B.S.

Deirdre Maloney

My current city of Paris and my beloved, Italian mother just collided.

I invited her to visit after experiencing some of the best things Paris has to offer.

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While Mama was excited about exploring both the culinary and non-culinary wonders of the City of Lights, her enthusiasm was accompanied by another emotional phenomenon -- the worries.

Those of you with Italian families from Queens, NY know exactly what I'm talking about.

Her worries actually began back when we first booked her trip:

  • "But suppose I don't bring the right clothes and I'm uncomfortable?" She asked as she began to pack.
  • "But suppose I'm not able to find you at the airport?" She asked as she pondered her arrival.
  • "But suppose I lose you and never get to see the view from the top?" She asked once she'd arrived and I asked her not to grip my arm quite so tightly all the way through the very, very long Eiffel Tower line

"But suppose..." is one of Mama's favorite ways to start a sentence. Many of us do the same thing... just with different words.

  • We get excited about attending a new music class... then we say, "But what if I'm no good at singing and I'm supposed to do it in front of other people?" And so we don't do it.
  • We decide we need to find a job that fulfills us more... then we say, "But then there's the chance that the salary won't be as good and the bills won't get paid." And so we don't do it.
  • We dream of taking up scuba diving... then we say, "But what if the boat leaves me behind while I'm underwater like in that movie?" And so we don't do it.

"But suppose..." or as I like to call it, B.S., is a dream-squasher, an energy-sucker. Its goal is to talk us out of doing something new or different (or scary!) based on what might go wrong.

Which then leads us to either skip that something new, or to do it but to enjoy it less because we spend the entire time waiting for the horrible things we imagined to actually happen.

I know what you're thinking, especially if you're an Italian from NY.

Yes, B.S. can also be a helpful tool. It can help us identify risks and keep us from doing wild things that are unnecessary or impulsive.

But... B.S. can also be our perfect excuse to stay stuck, offering a false sense of logic and security that keeps us from experiencing new things.

To add to the problem, sometimes the B.S. comes from outside of ourselves, in the form of those well-intended loved ones who don't want us to get hurt, but help us stay stuck in the process. "Are you sure you're comfortable singing in front of others? or "Is it really a good idea to leave your job right now?" or "Why would you want to try scuba diving when it's so dangerous?")

So what to do about the B.S. in your life?

Listen to it -- whether from your own mind or from others -- and determine which kind it is... the rational kind that allows you to weigh things out, or the fear-based, irrational kind that gives you the perfect excuse to stay stuck.

Recognize how badly you want this thing and also how much it scares you. Give the idea time to grow, see how right it feels.

Think through the potential pitfalls rationally, using them as a way make a good decision instead of as a springboard for panic and risk-aversion.

And know that, no matter what B.S. you come up with, it's only a partial list. Life is funny and can provide all kinds of scenarios those creative brains of ours never saw coming. The important thing is to know that we can manage them all.

Which leads me back to my dear mother, who got to see the Eiffel Tower after all... though only after hitting a snag on the second level, which was shut down due to security scare.

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The good news is that it all worked out fine. And in the end, all of that B.S. didn't matter all.

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C'est la vie.

This week: Pay attention to the B.S. in your life. Dream of new things, and get excited if it's authentic to you. Allow others to dream big, too. And if you want to offer some careful advice to others, keep the B.S. out of it.

After all, life's too short for too much B.S.

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