How much drama do you add while telling your story you have running in your mind at any given time?
I watched soap operas on TV in the past. When I think about it the stories I have in my head about individual situations are far more dramatic and ‘soap opera-ish’ than any of the best I have seen.
This week has brought that home to me loud and clear.
I had the example yesterday of attending an on-line class. It is critical to my next step for certification as a ‘Work’ facilitator.
My soap opera
I called in on-line as I usually do ten minutes early so that I was there, fully present and ready to go. The class began. Listening and taking notes was a key part of the expectation. I was doing that, when the connection dropped out.
I called back again, not sure what I had missed, but comfortable to be back on the call as I should have been.
Fifteen minutes passed. The call dropped again. I was involved in being a client for the person being tested in that moment. My panic was because I was involved first hand in what was going on, not as an observer. I called in again and continued, with a concern that I had caused a problem for my facilitator in dropping off the call.
This pattern of being on and off the call continued in shorter and shorter intervals for the remainder of the one and a half hours. I was getting more and more stressed as the time went on. I was missing more and more of what was happening on the call. When I called in the next time I was asked for my feedback. At that moment I was so unsettled that I couldn’t respond to the question. I fumbled and asked for a repeat of the questions, only to be dropped off the call once more.
And the saga continued…
My stress level by this time was very high. I breathed and decided that I would follow up with my homework, at least then everyone could see my feedback on-line and it would be okay.
I logged onto the system to submit my feedback. It was then I saw a blank where I was expecting a tick to show I had attended the session.
My whole body went into overdrive mode. My mind ran through all these thoughts:
- “What I’ve done isn’t good enough”,
- “I’m in trouble for not being on the call more”,
- “They’ll kick me out of the course”,
- “I’m going to fail.”
My mind had a field day running this whole soap opera of a conversation with the trainer. Me defending my position and justifying what happened. Especially why I should be given credit for attending. I was adding up the amount of total time I had been on the call. The conversation had me explaining that it was three quarters of the time requirement, wasn’t that enough?
I had my tantrum. My story was if I wasn’t given credit for this time then I wouldn’t be involved at all. Why would I when they weren’t fair. Why am I doing ‘The Work’ anyway. I’ll go back to working in a nine to five job and give the whole thing up. The drama was certainly playing out in full swing during this time.
Then, I gritted my teeth, took a breath and decided to email the trainers to ask what it meant that I didn’t have a tick. And I did. The waiting game for their response was horrible. I paced, I sat calmly (my story). I did all sorts of distracting things in order to stop myself from looking at the response.
All the while “What I did isn’t good enough” was playing in my mind.
The response from the trainer when it came was “No one has an attendance tick at this time, there is no issue apart from the one that you are creating about it”
And create it I certainly did.
What I learned
The drama around this whole situation was very stressful. I acted irrationally and noticed I felt very agitated. It wasn’t possible to think straight.
I found it hard to imagine in that moment who I would be without the thought that what I did isn’t good enough? I would have been sitting calmly, totally okay with the reality of the call dropping. Totally present and available to submit my feedback on-line, and move on with my day in the flow of it all.
Consider how much drama you add to the stories that you have running in your head at any one time.