Around 12:30am in the morning to be exact. You spent the last 12 hours lamenting at how your colleague has not responded to your email about the pending deadline for a very important project. You’re upset at his lack of response and how he does not understand how important this is. For him to just blatantly not respond to YOUR email about this very important question, he must not care. He doesn’t care about you, he doesn’t care about the team, and he just doesn’t get it. How dare he, you think to yourself. You resolve that when you see him tomorrow morning, you’re going to give him a piece of your mind. You know that he will be full of excuses as to why he never responded but you’re so sick and tired of it, you don’t want to hear it. You begin rehearsing all of the things you’re going to say to him like calling him selfish, not a team player, and caught up in his own world. You even begin thinking about how maybe you don’t want to work with him any more and that you should even tell him that. You go to bed that night with all of this on your mind.
You find yourself prepping for battle.
The next morning you see your colleague as you storm up to him ready to give him a piece of your mind. You notice he has a solemn look on his face that stops you dead in your tracks. Before you could even ask him what’s wrong, he tells you his wife is in the hospital. You suddenly forget every razor sharp word you were going to say to him and give him a long compassionate hug instead.
What happens when we prep for battle? Our mind is consumed with distracting thoughts that cause us to get angry, frustrated, and blame others for things not going the way we want. We concoct stories of how the other person is at fault as we position ourselves to be “right” and win whatever the conflict is. We lose our sense of the big picture because we are only focused on one version of the truth: our own. I am right and they are wrong. In this mindset, we are not open to other possibilities of what else may truly be going on, just the stories in our heads. And based on that truth, we’re willing to engage in battle with the world and ourselves.
When you find yourself falling into blaming others for something gone wrong and that you need to prove yourself right, recognize that the battle is all in your mind. Challenge yourself by asking, “what else may be going on here? What am I not seeing?” By just asking yourself these 2 simple questions puts some space between your reactive thoughts and the resulting action. Be willing to see other possibilities as you expand your thinking outside of yourself.
What situation lately has gotten you so riled up and ready to go to battle? What if the battle in your mind didn’t have to translate to a war with your colleague? Be willing to see the bigger picture.
Keep me posted on how it goes….firstname.lastname@example.org.