As the delivery guy approached my door, I was rejuvenated. It's the little things these days, right?
A visit from him could only mean one thing: my cloth masks from Etsy had arrived! As he approached my house, we made eye contact and I gave him a friendly "thank-you-sir-you-are-my-hero" wave. He smiled and waved back.
Then, he proceeded to throw my package at my doorstep. He threw it! And hurried away. With my jaw on the floor, the stories began to inundate my mind:
- "Wow, he is really behind on delivering packages."
- "I knew he hated me... I should have left him a bigger tip at Christmas!"
- "Ohhh, he must think I have Coronavirus."
- "Amazon must be treating their employees terribly. Poor guy."
As the confabulations settled into my brain, I felt more at ease.
"Yeah, it's not about me. He must be a disgruntled employee; what a shame."
After this short reflection it was time to move on with my day.
I opened the door and froze instantly. A signature Amazon box greeted me at the doorstep, but so did a four-foot long black snake. I startled it as much as it startled me. The look in its eyes said, "Why do you humans keep bothering me?" and then it slithered away.
It turns out, all that delivery man really wants from me, is to put some snake repellent near the front door. He probably loves his job for all I know... go figure.
In the absence of data we make up stories.
Our brains are wired for story. It's a survival mechanism; and we all have it.
Our brains look for a beginning, middle, and end to every story. When it has all the pieces, it douses us with dopamine. Now we can protect ourselves.
The problem is, sometimes we don't get the full story; we only get pieces of it. So what does our brain do? It fills in the gaps.
Often, very often... incorrectly.
Think about all the stories you made up this week about the pandemic, our economy, your partner not taking out the trash. There's probably some data in there, some truth, and there's likely a little bit of filling in the gaps.
Why does this matter? Because stories affect our behavior. They can influence the way we show up, treat others, and impact culture.
The most resilient people are able to recognize when they've made up a story. They're able to tell when they're hooked by emotion. Resiliency is a skill.
You can practice this skill by checking your stories and confabulations. Do this by using the language "The story I'm telling myself is ______.
You can try this both internally with yourself or out loud with others. Either you will learn your story is totally off or
your worst fears are recognized and a space is created to discuss with the other person.
Step 1: Recognize that you're hooked by emotion.
Step 2: Acknowledge the story you're making up.
Step 3: Get curious, reality check, and confirm your story.
This builds trust.
This profoundly impacts relationships and culture.
This is resiliency.
Parallel listen: "Story of My Life" by One Direction
Kim is the owner of 1Light Daring Leadership & Facilitation. She works with individuals and teams who want to make work modern, courageous, and intentional. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, and provides agile, repeatable, profitable solutions for teams. Reach her at email@example.com
and see more at www.weare1light.com
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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