Do you ever have those moments where your ego — in a split second — writes, produces, directs and releases a grand tragedy in your mind?
It happened to me just the other day. I was meeting with some people about a very important project we’re working on right now and a couple things happened. I had to leave the meeting early. Some things were planned after I left that I couldn’t make. Some roles were confused. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Typical stuff that happens when a group of people start creating together.
Essentially, I took this limited information I had and created a Shakesperian tragedy out of it. Insecurity rushed me like Dick Butkis in his prime. Before I knew it, EVERYONE was against me.
My terror turned to self-pity. It’s okay, I thought. I deserve it. I’m not worthy. This is what happens. Nothing personal. Just what happens. I’m just not putting my best foot forward. If I were them, I’d do the same. Just what happens (did I say that yet?)…
In case you didn’t know this, I register as a 9 on the enneagram. So I’m a people-pleaser. Typically, in my past, what I’d do in a situation like this is… Nothing.
Yep, nothing. I’d suck it up, hold it in, and keep on keepin’ on without making a ruckus. Over time, my resentment would grow and fester and I’d end up exploding or quitting.
However, this time, I took something I learned from the amazing Brené Brown and applied it to the situation. Here’s what she said…
“If I could give men and women in relationship and leaders and parents one hack, I would give them, ‘the story I’m making up.’ Basically, you’re telling the other person your reading of the situation — and simultaneously admitting that you know it can’t be 100% accurate.”
She suggests, when you’re doing what I did, to talk to the person/people you’re creating the tragedy about and bring that tragedy to light by saying, “Hey [Name(s)], here’s what I’m making up about this right now…” And then you go on and tell them about the grand tragedy in your head.
This is CRAZY powerful. For one, it allows you to bring whatever’s weighing on you to light without showing any kind of personal attachment. It shows you’re aware that you’re likely not correct, but it also shows that you’re bothered by it and need clarity.
When you realize your distress is coming from a story you made up with inadequate information, you can treat it as such instead of being attached to it.
If the tragedy turns out to be true, at least you can be sure of it and make the right decision on how to respond. Otherwise, if it’s totally false (which, since I’ve been playing with this, has been the case 100% of the time), you can bring light and clarity to the situation and move on without carrying the weight of the tragedy on your shoulders.
This is exactly what happened. I explained what I was making up. I was listened to. I was able to express that grand tragedy fully in a lighthearted, but serious, way. And we talked it out. By the time we were done talking, I realized how awesome of a group I was dealing with and how they only had the best intentions for me in mind when they made those decisions. And an intention was set, going forward, to communicate more fully and clearly.
Amazing. I was able to shrug off the tragedy on my shoulders and move forward in my life. And it will make this project more successful in the long run.
Please try this. Remember. “Here’s what I’m making up right now about this…” Then go on to spell it out, bring it to light, and heal it.