Tag Archives: quality of life

Pushing Emotional Buttons

ImageI don’t want anyone out there to miss the plot.  Go to tombrezsny.wordpress.com to read last week’s column. We were musing about contradictions that often accompany life in an all-consuming, consumer culture.

Added bonus? Real Estate of Mind online may also be a site for sore eyes for those regular readers who’ve been straining for years to grab hold of bigger concepts I often try to wrap in such tiny newsprint.

Moving on… When you think about it, Real Estate offers a great vantage point to view human nature from. We Realtors don’t just sit in our offices all day like therapists.  Waiting for clients to come into our carefully-crafted work environments for ritual talks about all the changes they hope to see in the future.

Rather, we are in the business of making house calls. We go out to meet people on their own turf.  Surrounded by their own stuff.  We get to know them in the context of their own lives.  And the whole goal, tacitly understood upfront is, we are there because they want to make a change.  Not just talk about change.

That’s not to say some clients wouldn’t secretly be content to keep talking about houses without actually ever having to buy one. There are more than a few serial search engine types,  open house rubber-neckers,   glossy magazine dream home-addicts masquerading as wanna-be-buyers who aren’t really prepared to do the hard work of manifesting change in their lives.

But the real estate process usually outs-them sooner rather than later. Specially since Realtors aren’t paid by the hour like therapists or attorneys and they don’t have much of a stake in the active discouragement of anyone’s procrastination.

Here’s what I know:  Strip away all the window-dressing, the weirdness around buying and sellingand all the mind-numbing layers of paper-chasing process and in its deepest, truest heart, Real Estate is about home.

And for most people, home is two huge things combined under one roof:  It’s the biggest asset most of us will ever own in our lives.  And it’s that ineffable place of refuge, shelter and sanctuary that holds and nourishes our lives.  (Something that’s impossible to describe in words. But also something so intimately universal, we don’t really have to.)

Which brings us back to last week’s quote from F Scott Fitzgerald:  “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Fitzgerald wasn’t referring to Real Estate when he said this, but he could have been. It’s wisdom is at the crux of almost every real estate conversation I have.  Almost every situation I work in on a daily basis.

Buying and selling a home is ground-zero for people trying to come to terms with all the contradictions and that accompany life in a consumer culture.

There aren’t too many things that push people’s emotional buttons more than money does.  And there aren’t too many things that exert the kind of pull that the notion of home does for most people.

In real estate, money and home often feel like two opposing ideas.  Push-pulls that exist in a heightened state of tension.  Swirling around in the mind.  Battling for supremacy. With the power to turn a simple case of cognitive dissonance into an excruciating internal steel cage wrestling match, .

What’s buying a home about?  Creating, protecting and building your largest asset? Or enhancing all those things that constitute that fuzzier measurement known as quality of life?

The answer of course is door number three – both. Next week we’ll look at some of the different choices that people are making these days to balance the out the contradictions.


Under House Arrest?

CageDoorHere’s a short meditation on change for buyers or sellers who are feeling a little stuck.  There’s a lot of that going around these days.

Prevailing wisdom says there are no two ways (or even three or four ways) around it.  Change is scary. But is that really true?

Something hit home with more clarity this week while I was in the middle of moving to my new Real Estate Home at Sereno Group: It’s not real, actual change itself that’s scary.  That’s a clever illusion we get used to entertaining.

Or perhaps an obfuscation that you/we/I  manufacture to make it harder to wander outside the perimeter of our own tightly-constructed brain maps. Past the established fence line in our own backyards.  Towards the great unknown that looms large like a dark ego-less abyss without any apparent handhold to grab onto or solid ground to step up on. Mostly because we haven’t actually had the chance to integrate the new-ness into unconscious loops or comfortable self-definitions yet.

It’s really the thought of change that’s the most scary thing.  The yet to be experienced prospects of change. The future imagining of what change might be like.  The embracing of the fear of fear itself that’s most fearful.

On autopilot, we often erect elaborate obstacle courses full of “what ifs”  in our heads. One’s that seem too tough or insurmountable.  That run us around in circles.  That obscure our sight.  Wear us out.  Test us on levels we didn’t necessary volunteer to be tested on.

What if I get an offer on my house but can’t find another place to move? What if I buy a new house and lose my job? What if prices go up? Or down? What if I can’t stand the freeway noise? What if the neighbors are too loud? The list of what-ifs could/can go on forever. Ad infinitum.

And that’s what’s truly scary. The absurd lengths that so many of us often go, to avoid change.  That’s the most insidious of all the bogeymen-creatures hiding in our closets.

When people are struggling with change, something odd becomes apparent.  Doing nothing does exist as a default selection on the spectrum of choice.  In other words, not choosing is a choice too.  It’s  “None of the Above” on the multiple-choice test of life.

What is it about us that makes it so much easier to do nothing and remain content to spin our wheels in the same place rather than move forward into full engagement with a new and different place (Perhaps a really exciting and life-affirming place simply because it is new and different) ?

That brings us to what’s so great about working in real estate. It’s a core thing that goes way deeper than status or success or the desire to pay the mortgage on our own homes.  It’s the privilege Realtors have of being regularly invited into people’s homes to share in their most intimate processes/struggles/triumphs around change.

Twenty-three years now and counting.  And I have yet to work with any buyer or seller who wasn’t going through some major transition.  Home is inexorably intertwined with every passage in life. Home as a metaphorical extension of self and home as an actual physical exoskeleton erected around us.  All the biggies: birth of twins, death of a loved one, marriage, divorce, coming of age, empty nester, health, job loss or promotion…

Realtors don’t always feel privileged every minute of every day of course. There are times we feel like throttling a client when the bad and the ugly of their human nature eclipses the good.  Or stupid human tricks become the temporary special du jour.

But that’s what makes it more rewarding on those frequent when we help/witness people summon up courage and navigate past their fears. Maybe in the form of  a first time buyer rising to the occasion. Or a recently widowed spouse finding a path forward.

Brain maps are like ankle bracelets for minimum security offenders.  Doing the time isn’t that bad. The three hots and a cot can be pretty cushy. Except for that little electrical jolt we might feel, we can step over the invisible boundary whenever we want.

Fascinating to consider the irony of it all.  Home being our most important place of security, comfort, safety, privacy, refuge but knowing that it’s a place that can also become a prison as well… House arrest can lead to arrested development. And arrested development.