I have a question for you.
It’s about your setpoint.
Do you believe that someone is always running game on you? Out to get you? Taking advantage of you?
Or do you believe that everything is always working out for you? That even if something doesn’t go the way you want it to in the moment, the long-term best for you is what’s happening?
Here’s why I ask this: Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a CRUSH of customer service emails. Like, three times the volume of what we generally receive.
No surprise there; we advertised for the first time, invited hundreds of new people into our world, held a TON of free live trainings, and welcomed in the first class of 2020 for our enoughness membership.
That’s a lot of activity and with activity comes questions.
And while questions are expected, it’s fascinating to see the difference in tone.
Among the FAR more innocuous and typical, “I can’t seem to get my download of your audiobook to work. Please help?” (the fix is easy, BTW. We even spell it out right on the page from which you buy it. You can’t download it on a gadget, only on a computer using a web browser. And many people exhaust the link by trying so many times ON a phone or a tablet, which won’t extract a ZIP file… which we explain on the sales page itself… so… yeah), there are also the, “You’ve stolen my money. This link doesn’t work because you’re a crook. You’re withholding something from me. Tell me EXACTLY why this is happening and what you’re going to do about it,” ones. There’s, “Someone’s getting a better deal than I am; defend that to my satisfaction.” And there’s, “This reminds me of that one time someone ELSE did me dirty so that means you are too so you will PAY for my falling for it again,” which is truly confounding. Because different people. Different circumstances. Different time in life. Different YOU going through it all.
Yet when we are certain we’re getting the short end of the stick, we have VERY strong muscles for going right to the accusation, right to the, “See! I told you the world is filled with bad people doing bad things TO ME!” mindset… and we choose to be blind to the evidence that none of this is what’s *actually* going on.
It’s a phenomenon called willful blindness (and there’s an amazing book on this subject if you’re a geek like me and want to read more from Margaret Heffernan about all the things our brains will discount, disregard, and simply NOT SEE out of simple evolutionary efficiency). BTW, we ALL engage in this at some point in life.
I prefer pronoia as a setpoint, personally. This is the opposite of paranoia (everyone is out to get me) and instead focuses on all the ways things are working out for me.
If someone is running late for our meeting, it’s not because they have no respect for me or think my time isn’t precious; it’s because I needed more room in my day to reflect on things, write in my journal, or just observe the view.
If my order arrives and it’s one item short, it’s not because the online seller is trying to cheat me; it’s because there was a human-to-human exchange I was going to have as I took a moment to call customer service that led to not only the omitted item being sent out but a $50 voucher for my next purchase as a thank-you for my patience.
No one is out to get me. No one is doing me dirty. When bad things happen, there’s a reason that always leads to something more beneficial in my life… even if that punchline takes a while to land.
If you’re not at the pronoia setpoint — and perhaps you’re leaning more toward willful blindness about most things and that’s getting frustrating — here’s the first step to soothing this a little bit.
Start by doing some dispassionate labeling.
Instead of, “Woe is me! That big company is trying to screw me!” try, “Uh oh! Someone slipped up. There’s a missing item in my order.” The latter has no emotion tied to it. It’s dispassionately labeled. It’s just a thing.
Sure, it’s a mild inconvenience… but it doesn’t mean someone’s out to get you (and this is true even if it’s MORE than a mild inconvenience, honestly).
By staying present in the moment, not catastrophizing, labeling dispassionately, and then taking the next right action for moving in the direction of resolution, we go from being people who believe we have no control in the world or in our lives to being people who know we have a LOT more impact on how we feel — no matter WHAT is happening in our lives — than anyone else ever could.
Do you have an example of pronoia at work?
Do you want to be less practiced at willful blindness?
It’s a bit of evolutionary rewiring we’re doing with this work, but it’s so worth it!
Before jumping in on ANYthing for which you’re feeling a strong reaction bubbling up, take a moment, count to 10, breathe, and ask yourself, “How may this be working FOR me, not against me?” THEN take next right action.
You’ll thank me for the beautiful muscle this will help you build.
Let me hear from you on this! Comments are open just below.
Enoughness is an inside job… and sometimes you need a guide to find your way there. Let Bonnie Gillespie get you started.
I do this all the effing time. Usually, if we go out to eat, it never fails, my order is ALWAYS wrong. And I have said, Lord the universe just hates me….but this is good. I’ve never even heard of pronoia. Jesus! Once again, thank you Bonnie!!!
What a wonderful opportunity to try new things you may never have ordered! LOL Love you, NaLonni.
Bon, I’ve never heard of pronoia before but I LOVE this concept – it’s so great!!!!!!! I’m gonna start using it today 🙂
Yay! So glad, Jill!
I love this! Because of other mindfulness work I’ve doing, I’ve started to make this change, but I’m so glad to have read this today so I can more consciously implement this strategy. Also, I learned a new word! Thanks, too, for the book recommendation.
Absolutely! 🙂 Pronoia is also a book, if you’re looking to add to that Amazon cart. I’ve not read it, but when I Googled the word to see if I was making it up, I saw someone else did long ago. An astrologer, in fact! 😉 Love that!
This has been something I’m working on. Sometimes I can let things go, but sometimes, on particularly bad days, I catch myself saying “What else can go wrong”. Which ineffectively brings more bad things. Thank you for the info on pronia I had never heard of that!
Ooh, here’s a trick to try, Amber! When you’re about to say, “What else can go wrong,” go with, “Ooh! Yay! I got all the crappy things out of the way for the day. It’s UP from here!” and see what happens next.
I love this so much, Bonnie! Thank you for sharing and for offering up your beautiful perspective. And thank you for conspiring (along with the universe) in our favor!!
Always, lovely Carmen. 🙂 I hope you’re doing so well. Good to see you here.
I used to get SO UPSET about traffic. Like scary upset. Now, when I am running late I just think to myself “everything will work out as it’s supposed to”. In EVERY case I show up right on time. Wasting the energy by getting upset would only leave me frazzled, now, I am calm cool and collected and it always works out fine!
Right?!? It always does!! I do that with getting to the airport. OMG, get me there HOURS early. I just refuse to do the “frazzled, late, running to catch the plane” crap that so many people engage in. It’s OPTIONAL like 90% of the time! And the 10% of the time that it wasn’t in your control (delayed connection, for example), OMG what a wonderful chance to explore somewhere new for the time you have to wait for the NEXT plane, which of course they’ll put you on, since it was their glitch that caused the missed connection!
Just what I needed to read today. Thank you!!
So glad it showed up right on time for you, Melissa!
I practice pronoia daily because it feels soooo goood. 💕 The best part about high volume emails is the way what happens ends up revolutionizing your approach to customer care and inspires the creation of new filters, processes and templates. So all those pesky negative people lead to a ninja level up! Yaaay! 🎉🐬
So! True! We absolutely created new templates and policies and of course we just adore the LOVE BOMB emails that much more. 😉 Thank you for the reminder!
Oh YES Bonnie!!! This is everything! You are not overstating when you say this is evolutionary rewiring of the brain. It reminds me of the Wayne Dyer quote, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Through Pronoia we determine the outcome of any situation, we set the tone. We empower ourselves. It’s active instead of passive. We are doing something instead of something being done to us. I feel like it is one of the most life changing mindset shifts we can make. It affects everything!!! Mind you, it is a practice and does take daily work because that old wiring in the brain has a lot of time on its side. But that rewiring as you said is sooooo worth it on so many levels! Love you!
Yessssssssss! And that daily commitment to practicing the more empowering mindset is EVERYthing. Love that Wayne Dyer quote. Thank you for sharing it!
I’ve never heard of this but I’m so glad to be one of those people who actively practices “pronoia” without even realizing it. I have people in my life who are the opposite of me and it drives me CRAZY!!! (Probably why I made a conscious effort not to be like them lol.) Every scenario they encounter is skewed negatively and it is always accompanied by a “woe is me” victim mentality. I couldn’t imagine rendering myself powerless almost all of the time the way they do.
So, this was a BIG issue for me many years ago, Chris. We had a friend we nicknamed Eeyore (the character from Winnie the Pooh who is always sad and blue and glum and down and complaining).
I’m a fixer, so I always had ten ideas about how he could make improvements to his situation and have a better experience than the one he was complaining about. He never took any of those ideas and ran with them; he would pooh-pooh them. Tell me how they wouldn’t work.
Finally, I had to end the exhaustion at trying to help him. I decided I had to be happy for him. Because he’s getting EXACTLY what he wants out of life.
What? Yeah! He wants to complain. He wants to have something to complain about. He wants life to be against him. THAT is his happy place.
And once I could be happy for him — since he’s living his bliss — everything got a LOT better for me too.
I love the synchronicity, the serendipity of all of this! My acting coach has been leading talks about this very thing in our class before we do any scene work. Loving the reinforcement. A beautiful whisper of “Gurl, Pay Attention. You’ve heard this before. Now it is time to listen and practice”
Perfect! I love those “God winks” out there.
I developed a strong negative mindset after spending 3 years being a boutique manager with a 99% very demending male clientele.
I literally made myself mentally and physically sick gaining 20 pounds and a newly discovered psoriasis all over my scalp making tying ip my air in a bun hell.
This is going to sound a bit odd but an extreme life experience as this one was exactly what I needed to encounter in order to be where I am today.
I since learned to stop overextending myself and protect my well-be-ing from others (read clients in this case here) and also from myself. I since refuse to work in the service industry.
Paranoia and negative thinking are both a snowball and a chicken and egg situation.
Too much stress coming from the outside or created from the inside will generate a neurological storm by carving undesirable pathways leading to paranoia and other negative cognitive problems.
It takes a LOT of time, work and personal resources to reestablish a healthy outlook.
So no. Non merci.
What I do now.
I wake up early, exercise (endorphins) and love to organize things so if something happens that is out of my control I don’t get mad at myself since I’ve done my part.
Someone is mad at me ? Well I’m terribly sorry that this person is mad at me but ultimately it’s not my problem.
My car get stolen ? Insurance.
This expensive entree in a fancy restaurant isn’t worth the fuss and the price ? I’ll try another restaurant nest time and still tip the waitress well because it’s not her fault.
Theres nothing I can personally do to stop breathing the rather polluted air around me (Los Angeles) so I’m not going to add more stress into my life.
negative thinking is poison.
I want to live a long life so crappy thinking, mindset, getting mad at people isn’t worth it.
This is so good, Deva! Re: “It takes a LOT of time, work and personal resources to reestablish a healthy outlook,” I’ll mention that it only takes all that time/work/resources because we think that’s what it takes. We actually — from a purely evolutionary wiring perspective — have the ability to rewire those neuralpathways with intention and mindfulness and quite a bit of EASE.
Yes, presence and consistency are required, but we can actually undo generations of trauma-based beliefs and setpoints with just a little daily self-talk in a much more positive direction.
You’ve got this!