Sometimes I even amaze myself at my ability to take the smallest detail and turn it into something of epic proportions. I’m notorious for honing in on one detail – usually the negative one – and obsessing over it until it becomes life size. My attention to detail is my superpower, it’s one of my greatest gifts; but, it’s also my biggest downfall, continually pitting me against unrealistic expectations.
Just last week I heard back from the Strike! ambassador that was doing my teachback process:
“Amy – your teachback video looked great…the class was well put together and the combinations were good. You do a wonderful job of encouraging participants to reach farther, step bigger and get lower. There are just a few things to discuss before giving you the green light to fight with the masses…”
There are just a few things to discuss…
a few things…
I must have reread it a dozen times.
Fuck. My mind raced. It was your punches. I told you they’re still not good enough. No, it was probably your bar combinations. Hold on. She said, “a few things” – a few means three right? God. It’s probably just me. All of me. I’m not meant to teach this format.
All from one line, one little detail.
One line in an email. One frickin’ line in an email where there was praise up and down the walls for how I executed and taught the class. And out of all the lines, I single-handedly managed to zero in on the one detail that, in my mind, solidified my demise.
Did you ever do that? Maybe you’re talking to someone you’re interested in and you seem to be hitting it off and then they say the word, “But…” prompting you to expect the worst. Maybe just hearing the phrase, “There’s something I want to talk to you about” is enough to send you in a frenzy. Or maybe you’ve made a mistake or there’s a “few details to discuss” and you obsess about how you’re a failure. Any one? Tell me I’m not the only one who does this!
One of the curses of the human condition is that our brains are hardwired to find the “bad stuff.” In fact, the brain is constantly scanning for threats – something that was vital to our evolution and survival – and when it finds one, it isolates and fixates on that detail, sometimes losing sight of the big picture. This cognitive bias makes it hard for us to learn from our challenges and everyday experiences. So, what are we to do when the biological odds are against us?
While the negative emotions and experiences always have the ability to trump positive ones, father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman and psychologist, Mark Hanson believe we can learn how to keep our negative emotions and experiences in check by amplifying positive ones. Now, this isn’t to say, “Just think positive,” thereby sweeping your “bad” under the proverbial rug. Not at all. Instead, you can amplify the positive by noticing when you’ve been triggered into a negative experience and reflecting on whether the negative situation has been exaggerated or blown out of proportion so that you can effectively and consciously decide your next best step. Mind you, this will likely take some time (and some deep breaths) to separate yourself from the story you’ve created.
When I really sat with how I felt (i.e. really shitty) and when I listened in on the language in my head, I realized how outrageous the whole thing was. I mean, in trying to quantify what “a few” meant, I rationalized that it was just me. All of me. And that I wasn’t meant to teach this format. Once I realized how exaggerated my story was, I was able to focus on what could be done in a proactive manner. I asked myself, “Do I love this format?” Yes. “OK, well, do you want to teach it?” Yes. “Are you willing to take feedback and learn from those ‘few things’?” The answer was I had to. It was a must if I wanted to grow and move forward. No story. No drama. Just a willingness to grow and evolve.
Those few details that my ambassador wanted to talk about? They were nothing more than tools – the exact tools I need to take a class and create an experience. I discovered that once I got over the fear of “What did I do wrong?” or the idea that “I am just a failure”, that I was fully able to step into a position for my betterment and growth.
What we choose to amplify has the power to hold us back or have us grow and what matters most is not the details themselves but how we respond.
This week, make it your goal to find 5 positive details of your day for each day. Even better – spread the positivity and post what’s gone right in your day on FaceBook and your social media channels. Not on social media? Email or call a friend. Really, it’s that simple. Even more, if you have “bad stuff” happen, that’s OK too. It’s not about sweeping it under the rug so you can just “be positive.” But, rather than go off on “Well, this is what happened….He/She said this…” – all of which is so easy to do – notice when you’ve been triggered into a negative experience or emotion and examine if the negative situation has been blown out of proportion (PS- chances are, it has).
Just imagine if we used our superpower – our attention to detail – for our good! Holy balls, life would be amazing!
To the details,