Finding your Fineprint

28 Aug

When I bought my house I was terrified I would miss something crucial in all of the paperwork I was signing.

The title company guys, the lawyer, and my realtor were ready to shoot me as I read through every line, meticulously extricating anything I did not understand, and carefully asking questions.  Eyes rolled, frustrated sighs escaped when breaths could no longer be held, and each tick of the second hand was an agonizing reminder that there sat a young woman who was making one of the most meaningful investments of her life and did not want to make a mistake.

I’m a planner, a problem-solver, and a solution-focused thinker. But I’m also a feeler, one who can easily emote, and over the years have gotten pretty darn good at being aware of what the weather going on inside of me is all about.  I react sometimes. But most times I am a responder.  I can recognize through the signals my body sends me (thoughts, feelings, and physiological changes) that something is happening– the rain is coming, a hurricane is brewing, or my barometric pressure is rising.

When I’m feeling most vulnerable is when I have a more difficult time paying attention. When I’m experiencing more stress than is typical, or I’m hormonally challenged (we’ll call it this– women, you know what I’m talking about; guys, it’s not a made  up phenomenon), I am more impulsive, may say things I haven’t thought through, or make decisions before I’ve given myself an opportunity to analyze the alternatives.

In the moments I was scraping my way through all of the confusing law jargon of my closing paperwork, I could feel my frustration rising.  The bigger print was taking amazing fortitude to get through, but when I looked down and saw all the fine print at the bottom of each page I had to sit back, close my eyes, and breathe for a minute. I don’t know what the people across from me were doing. I imagine they all had “what the heck?” looks on their faces and furtively glanced at each  other with little smiles…..”she’s about ready to give up” they may have been thinking.  And that’s how I felt! I was on the verge of tears. There was no way I could understand all of what was written in front of me, in stacks and stacks of dead trees!

I made a decision to focus on the fine print– to skim it and understand it. It seemed a worthwhile endeavor. I spoke up, “Okay,” I paused here to take a deep breathe. “I’m overwhelmed, I need your help to understand the important stuff here, what it means, and how it impacts me.  I can’t get through all of this on my own.” They looked back and forth at each other and gathered around me.  Perhaps they felt relieved. The  meeting was moving and they could help to expedite the process. Maybe they genuinely wanted me to feel confident in my decisions and to really grasp the concepts on the pages.

But in that moment, I realized that the fine print on the paper was revealing to me my personal fine print! I was trying to maintain my cool. I didn’t want to reveal my fear. Why? What was the point of hiding it? I felt ignorant.  But did they honestly think I should know all of this stuff?

Our fine print can be those locked away beliefs and values, scripts we’ve written as we’ve experienced life, and how we’ve come to know ourselves.  The words may be ugly, distorted, and reveal nothing of the truth about us. They may contain plots designed for self-protection.  Characters developed within the story of your fine print may act incongruently with what you believe your goals to be.

Just like the fine print we often skip when we’re reading documents, books, or contracts, our fine print is important.  It is revealing of our core drives and motivations. Finding your fine print is crucial to knowing who you are and why you behave and think the way you do.

It’s worth the read when you are willing to take the time.

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One Response to “Finding your Fineprint”

  1. Barbara Stahura August 28, 2011 at 3:34 PM #

    Excellent post, Kori!

    You’re so right about how our “fineprint” is hidden in our pasts and the beliefs and values we’ve picked up along the way. Your strategy of listening to your body’s signals is a smart way of pinning down what’s really going on.

    Cheers,
    Barbara

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