Sore Thumbs

Sore Thumbs: An Observation

I have a friend who is newly divorced. He has a 13-year-old daughter who lives with him every other week. He loves this only child with all his might, and I imagine that he would readily put his life on the line to keep her from harm. We talked on the phone the night they returned from a week-long spring break road trip. He groused about how he felt like he was being used for "stuff"—buying her clothes, makeup, souvenirs, etc.—and how she was not acknowledging him for being her dad and appreciating his doting such as giving him the hugs, thank you's and the signs of appreciation he wanted.

I got a sense of his growing frustration and how he wanted to build a deeper relationship and bond with her. He felt as though she was more interested in being entertained by going to the mall and shopping instead of doing father-daughter activities they could mutually enjoy. (Translated: stuff he felt they should do together to build that bond.)

Although he said he wanted this bond, he wasn't acting in accordance with building the bond. After weak requests to compromise on a father-daughter activity he felt was more appropriate, he would typically acquiesce and would complain about it afterward. Without speculating on the psychology behind his behavior, I observed that he was completely unaware he was perpetuating a story that didn't serve him or his daughter.

Filling the Bank

The first step in adding to the desire bank of your mind is noticing lack or the outcome you don't want. It is a distinction that you perceive based on all of the things you want in your life experience, and when it doesn't mesh up with your ideal vision, it stands out like a sore thumb. In my friend's case, it was noticing that he wasn't receiving the appreciation of fatherhood he sorely wanted. He was fixated on the lack of appreciation from his daughter. The good news is that he was filling up his desire bank with the things he did want from that relationship. Appreciation. Bond. Acknowledgment. Authenticity. Fun experiences to capture and remember. A connection he deeply desired with his daughter.

What was missing is that he didn't see his way of being. He didn't get the distinction that he was noticing lack.

Noticing Your Distinctions

The opportunity to discover these distinctions is always present. When you do make the distinction, what kinds of evaluative thoughts run through your mind? What are you thinking about the topic, the experience, the person or your own behavior in relation to it? What new ideas are you storing in your desire bank to create improvement?

When you notice these distinctions, and depending on the severity of your response and what you're putting into your desire bank, how do you feel about it? Are you frustrated? Angry? Cautious? Inspired? Excited? Eager?


The moment you achieve a distinction of lack—noticing what you don't want—notice how you are instantly aware of what you do want. This is the shiny new idea you're putting into your desire bank.

Begin to look at it from different vantage points and explore the ways you could approach finding the solution—the "fix"—for what you deem as less than desirable. Walk yourself through scenarios where you try on different choices on how to respond, take any applicable action steps if inspired to do so, or other ways of turning it on its side so you can more clearly understand what it is and why it's showing up as something you really don't want or don't like.

Look to resources or reach out to mentors for suggestions and objective viewpoints on how to adjust, shift, and grow. Once that step is completed, you can select a new way of thinking (a new story) that changes how you now and in the future will deal with those situations so you can have different outcomes.

The first step is always awareness—those sore thumbs—which creates distinction so you can study and shift your way of being—your story—and start experiencing the outcomes you most want.



Terry Pappy is CEO of Better3, creator of Compass Playbook and author of award-winning books on creativity. What she says about Compass: "It's a fun resource that helps people achieve their dreams using creativity—simply by telling a new story." Terry uses humor and straight-talk to inspire breakthroughs in creativity for audiences around the globe.