I’m working at a client site in the far north of England today and the weather is inclement. That’s the term you use when you have a stiff upper-lip and you mean that it’s absolutely catastrophic. My drive was two hours from my hotel when it should have been 25 minutes and it was quite an adventure. The whole of the country is panicking. If I watched the news it would no doubt be full of stories of tragedies caused by the snow and further misery on the horizon. I’ve already reframed my unexpectedly long drive to my meeting and another at the end of the day as an excellent chance to listen to some music and catch up on some podcasts, but I’ve also found an ideal opportunity to deliver some coaching on perspective.
You remember being a kid. Do you remember how you reacted when it snowed? If you were anything like me you prayed and wished for snow almost constantly. The instant it started snowing I’d be out there building snowpeople, throwing snowspheres and generally enjoying this terrific weather phenomenon. How do I react as an adult? It’s almost an automatic reaction to huff loudly when I see it snowing and then of course my kids are throwing themselves at me in a rabid frenzy, wanting to be taken on a sled and spend time outdoors in the freezing cold.
And I’m not alone. People moan and complain about the snowy weather, they drive like maniacs and act like it’s the Apocalypse.
At this site some people are up in arms as they are due to work until 9pm. “What if I can’t get home? You’ve got to let me go home early. I’m fearing for my safety.” Their human rights are being abused by being made to work in a job they actively sought. Apparently.
I expect my drive back will be another two hours of minimal forward momentum and intense concentration. And then that will be that. I’ll be a bit cold at some stages but that’s short-lived and that will be that.
What do people imagine is the worst thing that’s going to happen? Curious as I am, I decided to ask people.
“What’s the worst that can happen?”
- Someone might drive into me
- I won’t be able to get home
- We might get snowed in
This is one of those situations where the reality is better than the fantasy.
- Someone might drive into you at any time, but for the vast majority they will get to their destination undriven-into
- You’ll be able to get home and if you can’t it’s unlikely that you’re going to freeze to death exposed to the elements.
- If you have to spend the whole night in the office almost nothing will have changed the next day
We are so utterly spoiled that the thought of circumstances occurring, for which we haven’t planned and that aren’t totally suited to our needs, make us unable to think straight. Imagine if there were some way of changing the way we felt about such episodes in order to help us cope with the almost life-shattering situation wherein something unexpected is happening. Just think of the power we could regain if we were able to control our feelings instead of spiraling instantly into a reactive and self-destructive frenzy of emotion.
You can, but of course you knew I was going to say that.
Taking the current situation in the UK as an example, let’s look at a few ways in which you don’t have to feel like a victim.
The absolute first thing to remember is that it’s not personal. It’s just something that’s there and you have to work around it. No amount of any type of emotion from you can help it or change it. The only thing in the world that you can change is yourself and this is key to not being a victim of the climate. This is not something that is being done TO you, but is happening around you.
Secondly, let’s get some perspective. After my two hour drive I referred back to Mark Twain:
I was safe, warm and someone gave me a coffee. If that drive was the worst thing that happened to me; happy days!
If you contrast some moderately snowy conditions with recent catastrophes in the world, the floods, the earthquakes, tsunamis; sitting in one’s car for 45 minutes pales into insignificance on a global scale. I understand that feelings are relative, but if you’re feeling hard done by, count your blessings.
Thirdly, being pissed about sitting for ages in traffic, being cold, having a hundred conversations about the weather, is all excellent practice for you. Assuming control of your thoughts is a lifelong adventure and the labels you attribute to
- Sitting in Traffic
- Feeling uncomfortably cold
- Being bored with other people’s tales of woe
can be whatever you want. Literally.
People are always complaining about the rain in England. Constantly. It’s like nobody understands how our land is so green and pleasant. It’s because it rains, dude. The rain helps the grass and trees be green and pleasant. Celebrate the rain.
Do you know what happens when you get wet? You then get dry. Attributing serious negativity to getting wet is what’s making you feel bad about it. If you’ve ever seen a child that hasn’t yet been indoctrinated into thinking that rain is the end of the world, it’s quite something. They’ll play in the rain and then an adult will shout, “Get out of the rain!” and sometimes even repeat the old wive’s tale that, “you’ll catch your death of cold.” No they won’t. You don’t get sick because you got wet.
I’ve reframed my unreasonable fear and dislike of rain and I suggest that you follow suit and do the same with examples similar to those above. The benefits of this are numerous:
- You’ll get better at controlling your thoughts and feelings, constantly creating better results for yourself. Isn’t this why we want self-development.
- You will increase your happiness levels. Don’t we just all want to be happy?
- You will develop your internal locus of control and your ability to live intentionally. Life is literally what you make it.
How do I feel about all of those things? I’m no saint, things annoy me constantly, but I don’t have to feel annoyed for long or and even at all. Being annoyed does not help me in any way, in fact it will definitely hinder me,
- Sitting in my car in traffic is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. I also can learn through podcasts and listen to music which can really expand your horizons. You’ll win friends and influence people when you reveal that you’ve had a two hour journey and you’re still as sharp as a tack and raring to go. That’s role modelling excellent and preferential behavior.
- I’m no fan of being cold, but this should teach me to prepare better and it does.
- If people are eager to share their stories with me, I see that as a major positive. Listening is the best way to influence people, build trust and is the most important skill of a great coach.
Learning to not only see the positives in every situation, but to re-label how you feel about so-called negative events will be an incredibly useful tool for you.
Often getting perspective isn’t as easy as people who possess it make it sound. If you need some help, that’s my job, so drop me a mail, book a Discovery Call or reach out via Social Media (buttons at the top left).