My favourite Mark Twain quote goes; ‘I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.’
If you’re anything like me, a good proportion of your head noise has very little to do with reality, and a lot to do with the story you’re telling yourself. We run stories about things like:
what people think of you
who did what to who
why something happened
what’s going to happen
who is right
who is wrong
and on and on and on…
Your opinions and judgements are often based on perceptions rather than clear and evidenced thinking or taking the time to understand and appreciate. You’re creating your very own internal and personalised fake news show, and a lot of the time aren’t even aware its running.
It gets worse.
When you feel Unsafe and Uncertain, the chemical cocktail your brain produces is a breeding ground for fear, paranoia and neuroticism - all of which feed the fake news machine, and not in a good way.
So far this is about your internal world view in a day to day kind of way. On a big picture level there is always plenty to be making stories up about too, and this is certainly true at the moment.
Fact: Whatever you are telling yourself about the future, it is always unknown.
This Chinese proverb says it better than I ever could…
Maybe not, maybe so, we’ll see
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbours exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbours shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Only time will tell
No event, in and of itself, can truly be judged as good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate. Only time will tell the whole story. Additionally, no one really lives long enough to find out the whole story, so it could be considered a great waste of time to judge minor inconveniences as misfortunes. Or to invest a lot of energy into things that look outstanding on the surface, but may not pay off in the end.
Moving Towards Safer Uncertainty means accepting life as it shows up [Reality] and choosing to make the best of it. Easier said than done, of course.
Let’s do something with it – Remaining curious
One of the most powerful things you can do is remain curious. Curiosity asks that you are open, challenge-able, and interested. That you ask questions and invite enquiry to get closer to a more useful, and realistic ‘reality’.
What’s the story I am telling myself about ________________________
How much of that have I made up?
How could I get closer to reality?
Who would I need to talk to?
What conversations would I need to have?
What are my vulnerabilities in that?
What might I have to let go of?
What might be possible if I do?
Imagine if all members of the team/s you work with were able to do this with each other. What would shift?
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Photo by Kayla Velasquez on Unsplash
Photo by Fabian Burghardt on Unsplash