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Here are two different scenarios:
You wake up in the morning and you remember a business call with a difficult client you have later that day. You are immediately filled with dread and your Monger is talking a mile a minute. You tell yourself, “change your thoughts, think positive, it will be fine.” And every time the feeling of dread comes up you tell yourself to change your thought. So all day long you are pushing the feeling under the surface ignoring the dread and pretending it isn’t here. By the time the phone call comes around you might be feeling pretty good. In fact, you write at the top of your paper “You got this! No one can get you down!!” The phone call comes and goes and although the client was still belittling and you barely got through it without bursting into tears, you got through it! (Yay!) You are quickly on to the next thing and already worrying about what to have for dinner.
You wake up in the morning and you remember a business call later that day. You are immediately filled with dread and your Monger is talking a mile a minute. Hmm, what’s that about you wonder? And you ask yourself to just label what you are feeling. You are feeling insecure and nervous. You remember that the last time you had this call with this client it didn’t go well and he was particularly harsh with you. When you arrive at work you start brainstorming how you can help it go better. You know you are 100% prepared for the meeting so it isn’t your lack of prep it is the client’s tone and communication style. You put a post-it note on your computer that says, “He will be harsh. It is not about you” to hopefully remind yourself that it isn’t about you he is just harsh. When you hang up the phone you don’t burst into tears (which is a step up from last time) but you still feel like something was missing. The client was particularly belittling and the post-it note helped but not enough. On your way home you re-hash the conversation and you remember it went off the rails when he asked for more details. He is such a detail person and you just don’t think like that. So you decide to ask a co-worker to help you drill down on the details. Maybe that will help for next time? You will be more have better answers AND the sticky note will remind you it isn’t about you.
Similar situations two different outcomes. The difference is that in scenario two you are more present to the whole situation, you are present to your thought, feelings, and actions and you are present to your client’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. You are engaged in your life. You recognize there is no perfect right way, this process is trial and error and can get messy. But your overall goal for your life is to be as present and engaged as possible.
In scenario one, you are surviving life. You are moving through life trying not to get snagged by uncomfortable feelings and white knuckling it through unpleasant situations. You aren’t trying to find a resolution, and you aren’t diving any deeper than necessary.
Both scenarios work. (Obviously, I have a bias towards scenario two.) Because scenario two allows you to engage fully in your life and I believe that diving deep into our lives is what living happier is all about. AND I know that one day you might do scenario one and one day you might do scenario two. There isn’t a 100% right way. There might be times in your life when all you have time for is scenario one, and there might be times when you can dive into scenario two. That is OK.
My wish for you is that you start thinking about these two scenarios and be a little curious:
Which scenario do you engage in more often? Do you wish that were different?
How would you change your life so scenario two happens more often?
What changes would you have to make?
How hard are those changes?
What are some babysteps you can take to add more of scenario two to your life?