You’re nervous. Something happened and you don’t like it and you started making up stories about what it means. You’re analyzing that look you saw in their eyes, or the way they talked to you. You notice the onset of the usual accompanying bodily symptoms.You feel your heart racing and mind speeding to negative conclusions. Your hands are clenching and your breath is shortening, your face is flushing. You’re hooked. Hooked on your emotional reaction to the story you made up about what happened. You missed the window between thought and emotion. You believed the story.
What do you do now?
You grab a pen and paper. You write. You ask: “What’s the story I’m making up in my mind about this situation?” You write like the 5-year old version of you would write. You whine and complain as much as you want. This is what the author Brené Brown calls SFD, or shitty first draft (use “stormy”for kids and workplace). She uses this term that author Anne Lamott coined when writing a novel to get over the perfectionist in her and get herself started.
You pour out your heart in this draft. You know you got this exercise right if it fulfills these 4 criteria: it is honest, unfiltered, unedited and possibly unshareable.
After that, it’s time to read your SFD and think about what you need to learn or understand about others or yourself or the world, about your triggers that the situation awakened, and where you still need to grow.
You might decide to talk to the other party involved in the situation after proccessing your emotions and removing their sharp edge. You might say something like: “when you gave me that look, the story I made up is that my presentation/my outfit/my cooking …etc was awful and you hated it. Is everything ok?”
Next time you get that look again, but maybe just maybe, hopefully you’ll slow down your reactive mode, you would remember that such looks invoke inadequacy feelings in you that are not true. You become aware and don’t bite the hook this time. You become present. You let it go. Lesson is learned.
Ready for the next one?