Do you feel like you live in a world of “mights”?
This might happen, or that might happen. In reality, we all live in this world. It’s just the way we handle the uncertainty that makes the difference.
Evaluating situations is helpful. If you spend too much time turning things over in your mind again and again, though, it can be hard to make a move because you keep second-guessing yourself. Analysis paralysis sets in.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had personal fact checkers — like the political ones — to filter out those obsessive thoughts in our heads? Without an internal fact checker, these assumptions can gain enough steam that there’s no turning back.
This came into play with me recently when I dealt with an uncomfortable scenario. It seemed there was no way out. Yet, I had a gut feeling that the contemplated course of action was not the right one.
I took some time to “unplug,” rewind the situation back to the beginning, confront the source and allow myself to be open to other interpretations.
The 72-hour rule
One of my soul friends imposes a “time out” whenever things reach a fever pitch. She plays the “72-Hour Card” and does not respond until sufficient time has passed to give thoughtful consideration to a volatile issue.
While you may not have the luxury of 72 hours before responding to a situation, you probably have more time than you think. We often feel like we need to respond right away. In my recent scenario, I did give myself more time than usual to reflect on the situation.
Much to my relief, I learned some things that helped set the course straight and offered an opportunity for a clean slate. In fact, it opened up a whole new avenue that everyone in the situation is now excited about exploring. Go figure.
Stop, look and listen
It took stopping and listening, though — weighing the risk/benefit ratio of taking such action. And it took courage on both sides of the equation.
In hindsight, I realize how I’d allowed a series of rumblings to affect my thinking. While there was definitely enough responsibility to go around, the unhealthy thing is that suspicions were being built up on both sides. And our head of steam had built up to a runaway train!
Of course, the situation could have turned out differently. It could have exploded, rather than find its way back to a civil solution. But that’s the risk I was willing to take — because I didn’t want to let it play out to an ultimate demise, without at least trying to stop the train.
Don’t hold the onions
“Peeling the onion” is a process I learned at a seminar, and that’s exactly what happened in this case. As we rewound the situation and peeled off one layer, another was waiting underneath.
Once we got to the core of the issue (which didn’t actually take that much time), we found we had more common goals that we thought. And it was easier to get on the same page — when the fever pitch was dialed down.
Which got me thinking about how often this can occur in our daily lives. And that we really may have our own built-in fact checkers if we take the time to step back and listen to them. Here’s a handy tip you can use: Thoughts are not facts.
Go with your gut
Pay attention to your gut feelings. That’s your intuition speaking to you.
It probably gets drowned out a lot by all those distractions around you — friends, family, co-workers, the media, etc. The more you trust your intuition, though, the more it will show up. It takes time, effort and finesse. That’s because you may have buried your intuition under lots of layers — like that onion.
You also need to evaluate how long to keep your options open. In life, decisions need to be made. And you need to move on.
I’m not saying to stop and examine everything to the nth degree. Just pay attention when you feel you’re being swept away by the tide.
While that inner voice may not always be 100 percent accurate, odds are it will steer you in the right direction. Or, at least give you the peace of having paid attention.
The more you exercise your creative muscle, the stronger it gets. And the more it will “be there” for you.
As for those voices in your head ... don’t believe everything you think!