Recently I faced the spectre of a problem: my fear of a negative event coming to pass meant that I wasn’t able to draw on my full resourcefulness and creativity. All of my energy was being eaten up by wishing that the Bad Thing wouldn’t happen instead of considering what options and choices I would have if it did.
I was talking on the phone with my dad about the situation and he asked who I would call for help if the Bad Thing DID happen. In that moment I was able to move from a place of stagnation and fear into a proactive stance: I started to think about who my allies would be in this potential crisis. I made a checklist of everyone I could think of who might have suggestions, advice or connections to offer about the Bad Thing. I keep my list of allies in a Google Doc, so every time a new possible ally occurs to me I open it up and jot down their name.
As my list of allies grew, I began to feel cheerier: instead of feeling like Sisyphus alone at the bottom of the eternal hill, I started to feel grateful that I knew so many creative and resourceful people whose specific help for this situation I could call on with confidence if the going gets tough.
I went one step further: I drafted a copy of the email I would send each person in case the Bad Thing happens and I need to push the Code Red emergency button. Now, if that situation does come about, I have an action plan. If the moment of crisis should arise, instead of panicking with decision overload at a moment that will probably feel like my life is being turned upside down, I can reach for my list and make a calm, thoughtful communication about what I need and how much I value my allies’ input. I’ll probably still FEEL like panicking, but my advance planning means I can make space for that emotional processing while still progressing towards my goals.
The beauty of this realisation for me is that I ALWAYS HAD those allies, it just took a moment of specific thinking about what my needs are in this situation to help clarify who has those skills in my network. So in fact, no matter what life throws at me, I know that I’ve built the right support for myself somewhere. Sometimes it just takes a reminder to think about the specifics of an issue and the resources we have instead of going down the self-minimising route of painting the situation as colossal; too big to ever change.
Thanks Dad, my very first ally in this situation.