Are You Sure They Said That?
There’s no doubt we inflict a great deal of stress on ourselves. All too often, we allow our perceptions of the world to become our reality. While this is a super common thing to do, it’s not always grand for our emotional well-being.
I recall a friend who had a very dim view of his boss; he felt pressured by his supervisor’s requests all the time. Once my friend mentioned having a “soft” deadline along the lines of his boss saying, “Turn the report in by next Monday or Tuesday; just get it in.”
My poor friend was frantic! He told me, “No, next Monday means ‘Get it in this Friday and there’s no way I can do that’ “
My friend’s stress was boiling his blood with terror. Now there’s no doubt people can mean entirely different things from what they say, but—if the boss said “Next Monday or Tuesday,” then would there be any harm in aiming for that date?
Upon further discussion, I discovered that my friend hadn’t been tricked by his boss ever before. He merely had the perception of her as a hard charging type A personality who, in his mind, couldn’t really mean “get it in next week”!
My friend’s misperception of reality had placed him into a furnace of stress! Ask yourself if you do this type of thing.
If you tell your partner you’ll be home at 6 and you’re going to be late, do you project your feelings and presume your partner will be angry with your tardiness? I could go on and on, but I think you get my point here.
Sometimes we need to take a reality check that isn’t just a turn of phrase, but a real honest to goodness meeting between our expectations and internal rule-sets and the reality we’re in which we’re actually living.
Many of us don’t consult the others in their lives about how our actions affect their feelings. Asking, “does my being late from work upset you?” may seem to be awkward or even silly.
Honestly, we get so accustomed to not really communicating, but rather relying on our own estimations of what others think and feel that to make an effort to actually find out what’s going on with them—seems uncomfortable, even taboo.
Keep in mind our perceptions and our emotions are ours, and we’re allowed to have them and to own them. We must also take into account that perceptions are perceptions, not concrete reality, and feelings are feelings; they too may not be indicative of independent reality.
Take a burden off yourself, and ask those around you for their input. If at work guidelines for a project aren’t clear, ask for clarification. Showing interest in your work and eagerness to do a good job hasn’t put anyone out of a job yet.
To put it simply, let’s try to keep one foot always on the firm ground of “what-is” as opposed to both feet in “what might be!”