Take a minute to reflect on what your impulse reaction is to the following scenarios:
- Your manager or colleague has scheduled a meeting in your calendar to discuss a project you’re working on.
- You receive an abrupt text message from a friend or family member.
- You realize that you made a spelling error in a work email.
- You notice that you are double-booked in your calendar.
What was your initial reaction to the above scenarios? Did any of them spark feelings of discomfort? Concern? Anxiety? Tension? Fear? Overwhelm?
If so, you’re not alone. Many of us tend to catastrophize situations like these.
We treat a leak (a sign that there may be an issue), like a flood (a signal that our safety is in danger).
Let’s break it down.
What happens when we notice a leak? We get curious. We lean in to discover what might be causing it. Our goal isn’t to jump to conclusions, but to figure out the root cause. There may be some concern that an issue is present, but we focus on getting to the heart of the issue, knowing that doing so will allow us to mitigate any further damage.
What happens when we experience a flood? We are alarmed. We feel fearful and overwhelmed. Our primary focus is to protect ourselves and escape the danger. We aren’t interested in learning about what caused the flood, we’re simply trying to survive it and limit the damage.
When you receive an email from your manager to discuss a project, do you lean in with realistic curiosity or fear the worst?
When you receive an abrupt text, do you consider the possibilities of why someone might send a short text, or assume they are upset or angry with you?
When you realize you made a spelling error on an email, can you empathize with yourself and get curious about why it happened, or do you immediately assume that everyone is questioning your competence and feel the urge to defend yourself?
When you notice you are double-booked, do you hone in on why it happened and how you can use this experience as a way of optimizing your scheduling moving forward, or do you automatically fear that whoever you need to reschedule will be frustrated with you?
Leaks are inevitable in life. But when we treat them like floods, we ignore or misdiagnose the issues, leaving ourselves frustrated and exhausted.
Treat a leak like a leak, not a flood.
MJ Jenning | High Performance Coach