Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Third Path

This week I’m getting a firsthand lesson in principle #4; falling up. Falling up is the principle whereby we capitalize on the downs to build upward momentum. There are many dramatic examples of “falling up” from overcoming serious forms of adversity such as life threatening illnesses to surviving some of the worse that life can throw at us. Sometime’s though, it’s the small things that undo us. However, it’s not really our circumstance that undoes us, but how we see it, what we believe about it, and if we believe it is permanent or temporary.

What are my current adversities? While there are several, all small in comparison to world issues, they are never-the-less closest to me and therefore directly affecting me. As I watch the events unfold before me, I am beginning to see my reactions and how they are long standing and habitual. Until recently I had never “watched” me react, believing only that the reactions are normal and pervasive among everyone experiencing the same thing.

I have two areas that I’m currently watching. I will talk more freely about one, and leave the second to you to apply to your own personal issue to see if you find for yourself improvement, relief, and satisfaction from the current circumstance. When faced with adversity we have to understand and recognize a few things first. Feeling helpless is a learned behavior, what we believe about our circumstance is our “explanatory style” and not necessarily the facts.

In December, there was a shakeup in my department at work. Like many, I get nervous and jumpy whenever there are changes in the workplace, considering what the unemployment landscape has been like these past few years. I felt that the new marching orders were demeaning, insulting and that others were being heard and pampered in ways that failed to have my contributions looked at as having supported and benefited the company’s growth.

When I saw myself reacting in this way, I recognized it as my old habits and began to look to see if these were helping me or hurting me. Of course I want them to help me, and this line of thinking wasn’t going to help. Did I feel I had no control over the situation? (Learned helplessness as in you can’t fight city hall?) What was my explanatory style for why the changes were being made? Here I realized I didn’t really have all the facts and was making many assumptions. Assumptions we know can be right or wrong and I had no idea which they were. What I needed in this instance was to apply my ABCD’s to walk me out of this current thinking to a successful outcome.

What are ABCD’s? In the “Happiness Advantage” ABCD stands for adversity, belief, consequence, and disputation.
• What is the adversity?
• What do I believe about it, how it affects me and why I think it happened?
• What are the consequences of what I tell myself about the beliefs?
• If a friend told me the things I was telling myself would I let him get away with it? How would I dispute what he was telling me?
I found this very helpful and decided to change my explanatory style for what I believed was happening in the department. Did what I think about why it was happening really the truth? Or was I making up scenarios in my head with no basis in fact? If I acted upon my beliefs as if they were fact, what would be the consequences of my actions? It was the disputation that I found most effective. It moved me away from my initial belief realizing I really had no information about the reasons why and that any action would be futile or even detrimental to my current status.

In the end, I changed my explanatory style about the situation, argued with myself as if with a friend, and offered up some counter facts about why the changes were taking place, and slowly and surely the third path emerged. I’m taking a new look at my current position, realizing that there are opportunities for me here, and that my ability to interact closely with every member of the organization is at my fingertips. If I pay attention along this third path, what other opportunities await me?

What situations are affecting you? Try applying your ABCD’s and really argue with yourself over the beliefs you hold about it? Then look for that third path out. It’s not easy to remember so you have to practice at it. It is especially hard to apply when you are so close to a situation you can’t see how the habits have built up over a lifetime. I am reminded of my motorcycle training of years ago. When you are in danger of striking an object, the worst thing you can do is look at it, for you will surely hit it. What you MUST do to find the way out is to look away from the object and for the escape route, because where you put your eyes is where the bike will go. You have a choice, hit the object, go into the ditch or find the escape route. Put your eyes where it is you wish to be and find the third path.


Daytona Beach Biker said...

Nice post...I am trying to revamp the way I deal with certain situations as well...its a constant evolution, and you are never to old to change and learn!!!

Anonymous said...

your writing is really nice..keep it up!