A friend of mine recently had a disappointing thing happen in her business. She texted me to bounce a worry off me and before I started typing all the ways I would handle the disappointment, had it happened in *my* business, I asked an important question we should ALL be asking these days (and maybe always).
“Do you want me to ask you some questions so I can share some ideas? Or are you looking for a lovebomb of hugs and good vibes?”
She was VERY pleased that I asked these questions because almost always, people don’t. And then they’re not providing the kind of love and support their friend may actually need.
She let me know that she’d love a little of both, so after sharing my epic collection of “dog or food” memes, I asked a few questions and then ignored a good chunk of her subsequent texts.
I asked about things like her kill number (how many people have to enroll for the offering to even be worth DOING) and how long she has ’til enrollment ends. She gave me those bits of info, then I calculated how many people need to sign up in what amount of time and, knowing her price point, what the fastest way to getting her kill number MET would be (so she can relax and better align with activities that lead to more sales than that bare minimum). Before I could type up my ideas for how to pass her kill number fast, she was texting more things.
~ How many people she thought would have enrolled by now.
~ How much energy she has put into this offering.
~ How she has nothing else to put up for sale should this not populate.
And I ignored all of that.
Because she was sharing a small sampling of consequences that her fears were listing off to her, incessantly. I didn’t want her fear-based presumed consequences; I wanted data. Data. Not drama.
Once I gave her my “Here’s what I’ve done; here’s what I’d do” ideas, she excitedly did a little “yes, and…” action about how simple and effective it all was and thanked me for showing her something she COULD NOT SEE from her whipped-up-into-a-tizzy state.
Newsflash: We’re all living at near constant whipped-up-into-a-tizzy states lately.
Of course, one of the things we geek out about together in our friendship is the way the human brain is designed and how upper-limit problems work and what it’s like to be in states of flow vs. hijacked by the amygdala and all that jazz. So, part of our texting included a quick reminder that the brain actually reduces the number of options we perceive to have available to us when we are in fight-flight-freeze (which, again, is a state we’re all in, a LOT, right now).
And even when we KNOW this, we still get stuck by it.
That’s when the work is to just get focused on the RIGHT DAMN NOW of it all.
Data. Not drama.
I remember getting a test back from my astronomy professor in college. I was in undergrad and as a part of the honors program, I got to register for the coolest classes (because honors students registered right after the football players; Go Dawgs!) and I realized at this point my grades might not keep me IN that honors program. (I had been so sure astronomy would be lying on a blanket outside at night, looking up, and spotting all the constellations, learning ’em by name. Instead, it was physics in the sky.)
On the test, I had written, in answer to one of the questions, a paragraph that went something like, “Bonnie thought she understood this part of the curriculum but apparently she didn’t, so she’ll be failing this test, failing this class, getting kicked out of the honors program, losing a scholarship, and that’s when things get really bad.” The professor had drawn an X *not* through my sad attempt at the formula but through that dramatic paragraph. In that same red ink, he changed my paragraph after “apparently she didn’t, so…” to read: “she scores poorly on this question.”
Here I was, 18 years old, reading that reframe and having an a-ha moment that would stick with me for, well, AT LEAST 32 years, since I’m sharing it today! Ha ha! I had catastrophized that getting one problem wrong meant all hope was lost for me, forevermore.
And my friend whose program wasn’t enrolling like she’d hoped it would was in exactly the same mental state.
Since we can ALL easily get ourselves there — our brains are in fact WIRED to be able to get ourselves there with great efficiency — this is just a reminder that the work is to look at the data, not the drama. The sensation, not the story. The what IS, not the what IF.
I’ve shared an example from my own life and another from my friend’s life. Now you. Share with me a place where you either stepped out of the drama and into the data… or where you didn’t at the time, but you can NOW, thanks to these stories. Comments are open just below and I love hearing from you!
On that — BIG THANK YOU to far many more bits of outreach about my celebration of 4 years sober than I could ever reply to. You are ALL so marvelous and wonderful and supportive and I thank you for joining me in marking that benchmark and sharing your sobriety stories with me too. (If you’re considering choosing sobriety, this post might be a good read.)
All my love,