Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip # 70:

“There will be days when the fishing is better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home.” 

Roderick Haig-Brown, Fisherman’s Spring, 1951

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Such a great question to ask whenever you are contemplating doing something new and unfamiliar. Most people are timid or afraid of asking for something they desire for fear of getting rejected. This is faulty thinking. If you begin with the fact that you presently do not have this thing you want and you go ahead and ask for it, you’ll have one of two possible outcomes:

  1. You do not get it. However, you have lost nothing since you didn’t have it to begin with. You are exactly where you started; that’s all.
  2. However, by asking for it you improve your chances of getting it 100% more than by not asking for it. You might get it and then you do have it. The difference between a wish and a vision is that with a vision we take some action steps. Asking is one very important action we can readily take. More simply put: the road to heaven IS heaven.

Too many suffer from their own self-defeating and limited thinking. We’ll conclude ahead of time that we are not going to get whatever it is we want, so we often don’t even bother to ask. We call this our already always way of thinking. It goes like this: ‘I already know what you are going to do/say/etc.’ Or we think, ‘who am I kidding to think I could have/get/want such and such?’

Often this limited thinking is based purely upon our past. You said “no” to me last time so I presume you will still say “no.” But how do I know this is true now? We don’t. Or we ask for what we want in such a feeble and un-appealing way that it almost ensures us not getting it. “You probably wouldn’t want to help me out with this thing, would you?” we meekly ask.

Undermining all of our asking or not bothering to ask, is a deeply held conviction that we don’t really deserve what it is we want. We tell ourselves these limiting thoughts and ideas that block any possibility of us getting our dreams fulfilled. This goes on so often and so automatically that we don’t even allow ourselves to desire things. We’ll stay vague or uncommitted. Or if we do we have them as secrets and don’t dare speak them out aloud. Some people deny their hopes and dreams and won’t come up with things they’d like to have/do/experience, and keep these secret inner whispers to themselves.

What is there to do instead? Here is the antidote:

Ask, ask, ask, ask!

Ask with a mindset – a conviction – that your request; your desire – could actually happen. Start with a positive thought: ‘This will work.’ ‘This IS possible.’ ‘This could happen.’ Then stop all that second guessing about how this other person is too busy, or can’t afford, or doesn’t like us enough, and so on. We don’t know any of that. How about being open to the possibility that this person we ask is more than capable or very willing to provide our request. In fact we might be providing him/her with a gift they’ve been waiting for. Perhaps we are giving them a wonderful opportunity by asking – giving this person(s) some joy and satisfaction in providing us with our request. See our request as an opportunity that they may gladly embrace.

Tameka Brown story.

Tameka Brown had become the age where she could now join the Girl Scout as a Brownie. Her mother, a single parent, told Tameka she had two dreams for them: 1.To travel around the world together, and 2.To give Tameka a college education.

She told her daughter that her plan was that she’d first work hard in order to get Tameka college-educated, and then once Tameka had a good career established the two of them would be able to do some world traveling together.

When Tameka joined the Scouts she immediately learned about the annual Girl Scout cookie sale drive. She also learned that first prize for selling the most cookies was a trip around the world for two! Tameka realized that she and her mother could do their world trip now, and all that Tameka had to do was to sell the most cookies in the Scouting program.

When Tameka went out door-to-door to sell cookies she typically would greet each person with her radiant smile, and with a greeting that went something like this: “Hello my name is Tameka Brown. My dream is to take my mother and me on a trip around the world by selling the most Girl Scout cookies. How many boxes of our delicious cookies would you like to buy?”  

That year Tameka sold more cookies than everyone else. She did so the next year, and the year after that. In fact she become a phenomena, so much so that eventually she was invited to speak to Fortune 500 company sales people on the art of enrolling others into a vision. You see Tameka was not selling cookies; she was enrolling other people into her dream. And she wasn’t simply using skills and techniques; Tameka was using her powerful and compelling presence. She took on that other people, of course, would want to assist her in her realizing this glorious goal she and her mother had.

At the conclusion of every talk she gave to various sales people Tameka would end with getting the audience to take action: “Thank you for this opportunity to speak today. There are sign up forms at the end of each of your rows. Please pass them down the aisle and fill them out: How many boxes of our delicious cookies do you want to buy?”

Many times we have a great idea – super-duper idea. But we just sit on it. We eventually even talk ourselves out of it. ‘It’s not practical. It isn’t worthwhile.’ So we do nothing about it and eventually it fades away. A half-baked idea or a good idea that you start to take some action on and you continue with regular action steps IS far better than any excellent idea that goes nowhere. The world is full of ‘Could have, should have, would have…people.’ These same people when they discover someone else has done the very thing they thought of doing they want to kick themselves because now it’s too late.

Time spent fishing whether you catch a fish or not is always better than staying home. Use this metaphor for living and make it for you living your inspired life. I’ll have wild and crazy ideas all the time. I’ll start playing with one. I might expand on it, perhaps make sketches or some drawings of it; or I’ll list steps I think are needed to carry it through. These steps most likely aren’t in any particular order. For now I just list as many as I can and add to them as I continue. Maybe I have more ideas as I am going off to sleep. I might start telling some of my close friends or family members. I am careful to avoid the negativists, critics, and naysayers, or those that can’t listen. I’ll want fine-tuning critiques later; just not now in the early stages. I don’t want the pleasers or “yes” folks either, but I also don’t want the downers who’ll gum up my think tank creativity.

I will take on critical analysis and work out different scenarios later. I will want to consider the possible pit-falls? It’s best to foresee what may impede this project from succeeding? What might be the potential costs of such an enterprise? What could likely be barriers? Obstacles? This is all good stuff; important stuff. And they have an important place within the process.

Most important is knowing the Why. We need a compelling reason or Why for a project. Why would I want to do this? If our reason isn’t compelling enough then I do not need to address the How to’s – or fret over any details. The reason for this project has to be so convincing and so enthralling in order for it to succeed. This is necessary to carry one through the difficult phases – the various tough spots.

Also, it is about our Mindset. Our compelling reason needs to be larger than us. For me it is all about becoming the person God created me to be.

I am also not afraid to jettison any idea that when it’s fleshed out it seems shaky or not viable, or there seems to be a better idea to replace it. Brain storming is a process where we generate all sorts of ideas – good and bad, smart and ridiculous, silly, mundane and outrageous. Out of numerous ideas will come an idea that is spot on – compelling and exciting and so this is the one(s) to take hold of and move forward.

As I begin I set up a few milestones – steps that must be accomplished in order to make this over-arching idea into a reality. If I am to achieve this goal one year from today, what must be completed or accomplished in the next month? Next week? Next day? I also must figure out right at the start what will be the pay-off(s) for doing this project. And what would be the outcome(s) for not doing it.

Example: My Diabetes Story

At my very worst point I weighed 235 pounds. I had become a diabetic and was now being told I would need to change from taking oral medications to taking insulin. I decided to draw my line in the sand and I went about getting my weight down to 200 lbs. I stayed at that weight for a good while until my blood sugar levels started to creep up again; so I then lowered my weight to 190 lbs.

This helped but I soon realized I was fighting diabetes, and was not seeking optimal heath. What is it I do want? Optimal health, a diabetes free life, and one with energy and vitality. I started to ask myself ‘why am I tolerating diabetes even with oral medications? Why not work to eliminate the need for medications if possible?’

Truthfully it took the COVID-19 pandemic for me to take to heart my putting up with and tolerating and seeing myself as one of those “at risk” people for covid-19: an older adult, with chronic illness, and with an autoimmune problem. That’s me! And I don’t have to be one. I will spare you the all the THINKING that preceded this insight and “aha” moment only to tell you I KNEW I could do something about my being a person “at risk.” I could not change my age, but I could do something about the diabetes.  

I currently have my weight down to 183 lbs. My blood sugar-levels have normalized. I found that there is a tipping point where my weight – at or below 185 lbs. – is inversely coordinated to where my blood-sugar levels become normal and healthy. And I am continuing to keep lowering my weight by exercise, and by eating less and eating more healthy foods, in order to find what it will take to eliminate or at least reduce the medications I am still taking.

Already I have more energy and feel motivated to continue this path toward no longer being a diabetic.  The fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits. Throughout the gospels are messages to “stop sinning AND then do good.”