Access Point: Slay the Mental Dragons
“Most of us don't realize we are telling ourselves a scary story that we believe is true when, in fact, we alone hold the power to silence it, ask what else it could mean, then build a better narrative."
— James McPartland
So today we're going to fight some mental monsters.
Why is the default setting in our lives always the worst-case scenario? Perhaps it's because the brain is set up to predict and protect.
Years ago, I was engaged in an important business relationship that morphed into a friendship. After some time, it appeared to be going south. Calls weren’t returned, emails were ignored, and I appeared to be losing momentum, traction, and (for lack of a better term), sales and profitability.
I took it personally.
My default setting imagined several worst-case scenarios, all roads of which led to the following conclusion:
“This relationship is over.”
Six weeks later after my last reach out I get a phone call from the individual and he urgently wants to speak to me. You probably see where I’m going with this. I’m imagining the worst:
“Okay well, he finally has the courage to break the bad news to me.”
What he actually called to tell me is how “special I am to him in his life”. How he thought enough about me and wanted me to be the third person on the planet to know that he and his new wife had gotten married!
Ha! Boy, did I miss that!
So our default setting when we perceive something unexpected coming our way is to say to ourselves “What's gone awry? What's wrong with this picture?”
But there’s also an opportunity in events like these—an opportunity to ask ourselves a different line of questions:
“What's right about this? What's good about it? What am I supposed to learn?”, and “Can I give it another meaning?”
So before we go off to the races friends, let’s remember to practice going from our default setting of worst-case scenarios to the beneficial setting of imagining best-case scenarios as well.
Because in my case, I almost missed a magical, marital moment.