Conversations at the Crossroads.

I’m Asking for a Friend

Have you ever been so caught up in the intensity of a situation that you’ve found it difficult to think clearly?

I’m guessing you’ll say yes.

I’m guessing it happens to all of us at some time or another.

We get wrapped up in the reaction, in an emotional response, and it derails us. We lose our ability to apply objectivity to sort things out. And when it comes to identifying solutions when we’re in this state, we might feel as if we have limited options, or no options at all. In a moment of heightened reactivity, our perspective and sense of options narrow.

Interestingly, when a similar situation is experienced by someone else, regardless of how we experienced it ourselves, we are often better equipped to point out solutions.

I wish I could share a specific anecdote as to when I first recognized our duality in this regard. At some point, in a critical moment when a client expressed frustration at having limited options, it had occurred to me to ask, “What would you say to a friend in a similar situation?” And then, as I listened, a transformation took place – a lighter tone of voice, a renewed sense of possibility, an opening of the aperture. It seemed that shifting the ownership of the situation to someone else – even a hypothetical someone else – had created enough distance from the emotion to see things in a different light. And once the ideas had been imagined, I could inquire, “So… if you would propose these ideas to a friend, what prevents you from applying them to your own situation?” There were likely some internal or external roadblocks to explore as a result, but it had quickly become clear that we had moved from “no options” into a new space.

As you move on into the month ahead, take notice of the moments when a strong reaction hinders you from seeing a path forward. Pause, and ask yourself: What would I say to a friend in a similar situation? You might surprise yourself and unearth some solutions you couldn’t otherwise access. And perhaps those solutions will be worth a try.

With support and encouragement for your journey,

Founder, The Crossroads Coach

Published March 7, 2017