The Wart Effect: How Shifting Your Mindset Can Help You Conquer Life’s Obstacles (Episode 323)
When Nathan and I were dating, we shared all kinds of stories of our childhood and our vulnerabilities - and we found a common embarrassment - we both had warts as kids. While we were self-conscious about them, looking back, there is a "wart effect" that occurs on the other side of having a wart.
While this may seem like a stretch to go from warts to discussing toxic positivity, letting go, and mindset, bear with me - we cover it all in this quick podcast episode.
The Wart Effect
We both can reminisce about these huge warts we had that made us so self-conscious. I remember them on my thumb and knees, Nathan had a huge one on his hand that became his reason for not raising his hand in class or holding a girl's hand.
We both tried everything to get rid of our warts. We used all the medicines, tried every tactic, and, I remember just giving up and hiding behind a band-aid for a while.
So the wart effect is paying attention to when it finally goes away. A wart is a virus in your body. Even if you kill the one, until it runs its course, you're likely to have more warts crop in your life.
I'd say there are a lot of things like that in our lives. It doesn't have to be an actual wart. It can be those things that seem like a virus that won't go away. It's the thing we're embarrassed about, that we're frustrated by, or what keeps cropping up that we're trying to avoid.
I remember dealing with warts for a long time. And then...I don't. What happened? Did they just magically disappear? The reality is, once my mind went elsewhere, the warts faded out of my attention...and ultimately off my body.
Our Children's Perspective
Yes, all three of our girls navigated their own warts. They know what it's like to be teased for warts on your knees, and they know the struggle of self-consciousness and embarrassment, feeling like there was nothing they could to do make them go away (they tried, believe me).
We didn't have much help for them. Yes, we even took Ellie to get hers frozen off and those persistent little buggers stayed on until they were ready to pass on their own.
And Ellie's statement is what prompted this episode. She said, "It wasn't until I let go and just accepted them for what they were that they went away. I just forgot about them, and then one day I noticed I didn't have them anymore."
Shifting To Acceptance
How relevant this is to our daily life. Ellie's perceptive comment didn't end at her warts. She went on to relate this to so many other aspects of life.
"That's very similar to a lot of the problems we have in our daily life. If you're festering on them and you're thinking about them, they tend to just stay there with you. And if you obsess over them, they feel almost like they get bigger and bigger. But once you just kind of accept them as part of your life and who you are and just move on with your own life and start enjoying things, not allowing that wart to be part of your daily psychological neurosis, then suddenly, one morning, you wake up, and it's just gone. The issue has been released and no longer weighs you down." - Nathan Logsdon
The kicker is, it's not just a magical disappearance. You realize, looking back, that it hasn't bothered you for a while. That's the beautiful shift in focus.
What "warts" are there in your life? Maybe it's a literal thing you can point to. Yet maybe it's your poor internal mental or physical health. Maybe you're navigating some rocky relationships. It may be frustrations with your work or your finances.
All of these can be a thorn in your side, and, figuratively speaking, a wart. They can be big and ugly, and you want it to go away as quickly as possible.
These are often undesired, so why is it here? Why can't it just GO AWAY? So often they are hard to ignore.
Let me be clear. We can "Pollyanna" this approach and say to just ignore it. "Fake it 'till you make it" and just act like everything is fine and it'll be that way!
That's not healthy positivity. That's denial and avoidance. And believe me, the more you do that, the bigger that wart can grow and spread.
Acknowledge your reality. It is what it is. The first step for any shifts for the positive is not to deny what's happening - it's to bring clear awareness to it. To admit fully what is not working, and to see the reality of the situation.
I'm currently reading the book "Fierce Conversations" by Susan Scott, and she lays out the "Mineral Rights" for having a productive and connecting conversation with someone. She says, "The questions asked during a Mineral Rights conversation help individuals and teams interrogate reality in such a way that they are mobilized to take potent action on tough challenges." The process is this:
- Interrogate Reality
- Provoke Learning
- Tackle Tough Challenges
- Enrich Relationships
It's okay to feel. Interrogate reality and recognize how it feels. Feel all the feels. And it's not even to just "make things better". Sometimes we need to sit and process. It's okay to be in a funk for a minute. Feel mad. Feel sad. Allow for grief. That's okay. It hurts. Sometimes it's a day. When it's a month, however...what has become ingrained in your habits?
Don't Sit In The Soup
There is a difference between feeling something and stewing in it. Allow the feeling to come, acknowledge the reality of the feeling, and then actively make the choice to move through to the other side. When a "wart" becomes a defining reality in your life for why you can't ______ (fill-in-the-blank), you're sitting in the stew. Remember the principle that you can cook a frog by slowly warming the water up? You don't realize how far gone you are until it's too late. Don't become a soup of warts - use the wart effect and shift out of it.
Learn From The Label
We can take on labels that help us identify and find the tools for whatever we're dealing with. I use personality assessments with all of my clients to help them identify and bring awareness to their own behavior tendencies.
I had a friend in high school who really struggled with his schooling and relationships with others. When he was diagnosed with ADHD, instead of seeing what tools could help him, it became his justification for his hyperactivity. Instead of learning, he hid behind it. And unfortunately, that drove some people away. While it felt freeing for him at first, he created a prison for himself and had to work hard to find his strengths beyond his label.
Learn from your labels. If you get a diagnosis, take a personality assessment, or anything else that may label your situation, take that simply as a first step to finding what tools and resources will help you navigate better - not as an excuse to keep going as you are.
When you use a label as a signpost instead of a decision on your fate, you can use it to open the door to moving through it versus sitting in the soup. As Nathan says, it can be a way to climb over the mountain or to claim "this is my mountain". Where do you want to stay?
What can you learn about this? If you're simply waving your flag on that mountain, know you'll continue to feel these same feelings. The wart won't go away - you're looking at it and picking at it every day. It's okay to acknowledge the pain and identify the issue. It becomes your trap when you don't dig deeper.
Give space for the feelings, and then recognize where they are taking you. Is that person always trying to hurt you at all times? Is this always true? Is everyone out to get you, or are bad things always happening?
Get curious - what is the common theme? Maybe it is one person where you both would benefit from putting some boundaries in place. Maybe it's time to acknowledge what's truly a wart. Maybe the common theme for all the unrelated mishaps in your life is you. Ouch. Dig deeper.
Be careful to not get stuck in a "This is why..." mentality, where you have an excuse or reason for every negative in your life. "Until they apologize, until I get my justice, I can't move on."
Did you just give your life's purpose over to one person? Do they have full control over you and your emotions? That's a pretty powerless place to be.
Pay attention to when you use "can't". Try replacing it with "won't" and determine how much ownership you have over what you "won't" do.
Step one - see the wart and acknowledge reality. Don't close your eyes. It's a wart. It sucks.
Yet when we pick and pick at those warts, what happens? It doesn't tend to go away. Again, remember it's a virus. It spreads. All of a sudden it's not just one wart - it's several. All of a sudden, it's not one frustrating situation, it's one after another after another. What do you want to affirm and bring more of into your life - the positive aspects or the negative ones?
How can you move around this boulder with the least amount of effort and energy, knowing you're conserving your energy for one step at a time to cross over the mountain? It may feel a little clunky and awkward at first like Nathan trying to let go of his self-consciousness about his wart and being unsure if others would notice.
Yet the more and more you practice it, the more you can move through it. Once you take those steps, your focus shifts - maybe you've changed your attitude and approach, and what used to feel like an insurmountable mountain just isn't as big of a deal anymore.
It probably won't happen overnight. Yet don't be surprised if you wake up one day and it hits you how long it's been since it was an issue.
Sometimes it's a complete disappearance of the wart entirely. Sometimes it may leave a scar or it may still be exactly the same, but your perspective has changed.
Ah, letting go. So easy, right? I think this phrase can be very cloaked in toxic positivity. Let it go and deny it from ever entering your mind again.
No, I recognize, for me, it's hard to just go to a blank space where the wart no longer exists.
How can you shift your focus to? What are you proud of? What do you feel confident in? What is a sweet spot in your life? How much energy and focus do you put on it? Now may be the time - you're releasing the weight of the "wart" in your life and zoning in on the other positive things.
The way I let go is I intentionally move towards something else. Oftentimes, my letting go is shifting my focus to what I do want to hold on to. And so am I really letting go, or am I simply reprioritizing?
Let go of the feelings that are bringing you down - you've been allowed to feel them, yet now they have no good use for you. Let go of that. We can't always completely let go of a situation.
Recenter your focus. How much power are you giving to the little things? How much control does something outside of your control have on your mindset?
Nathan talked about how part of his soul healing is accepting and loving something for the beauty that it is and/or the message that it's taught him. Can you see the "wart" in your life as a positive instrument for growth? Yes, it can feel like quite the stretch when you're soaking in the soup, yet it can help you out of it.
It's not about making it all go away. Acknowledge what truly has power over you. You don't have to engage. You get to control where your head turns. You get to determine what you face, when, and how.
What does this make possible? What does this bring to light that can help?
Approach your "warts" with a growth mindset today. Think about the "wart effect" - when you shift your attention away from the shame/embarrassment/anger/frustration, etc., it loses its intensity in your life.
Our challenge is to you is to acknowledge the reality of what the warts are in your life right now. What are the things that are rubbing you the wrong way that are things you are embarrassed, ashamed about, or those prickly or friction areas in your life?
First off, acknowledge the reality of what it is. It's okay to feel emotions about it, and maybe it's okay to, for the first time, acknowledge the way it makes you feel. Do that, and then look for what is on the other side of that. Just like what Nathan was saying, what does this make possible? What can you learn from this? And how can you better channel your energy elsewhere?
What can you let go of that is holding you back, that's holding you into this place of negativity? What if you take that same energy and channel it for the positive and redirect it? Sometimes it is a straight-up distraction for a while until it's not so glaring. Sometimes it's a very strict boundary, a hard line, and a saying no.
The wart effect starts to show. All of a sudden, it's not as big of a deal. It doesn't rock your world to the same level.
You can be surrounded by drama. That doesn't mean you have to take it on as your own. Recognizing negativity is different than accepting it as your fate. Choose to be the light and find the light in your world. I have a feeling the more you look for it, the more you'll find it.