We all have them: those moments where we know we've made a mistake, or something bad happens, or we have a front row seat to someone else doing the same. They're... uncomfortable, to say the least.
How can we respond well to these uncomfortable moments when they jump out and grab us? I've noticed a strong pattern in my own experience - If I allow my first mental or verbal response to be a statement, I'm likely to be headed down a disempowering rabbit hole.
“I'm in way over my head right now. Everyone in the room knows it.”
This easily leads to something like:
“I'm being found out! I'm a fraud, I'm a failure and it's being broadcast to EVERYONE! Can I please just disappear right now?”
Now that's a tough place to get out of.
Viktor Frankl, one of the great minds of the twentieth century, offers a gem of philosophy:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Instead of making knee-jerk statements when I hit a bump in the road, I try to hold myself to a rule: Greet every uncomfortable moment with a question.
“What does this moment offer to teach me?”
“What other point of view could explain what I'm experiencing, differently?”
Or simply, “What am I feeling, right now?”
These open ended questions might lead in all sorts of different directions. They might present alternative possibilities to deal with what's come up, or simply change how we feel about it. But the important thing I've noticed is that responding with a statement is like walking straight into a dead end. Only questions open things up.
Choose your response. Choose a question. It may not change anything about the moment, but it can change everything about how you move forward.