Pick the other one.
I’ve noticed that in certain situations, my instincts are exactly wrong. When they say one thing, the best possible answer is to pick the other choice.
Here’s what I mean. When I notice that I’m white-knuckle-gripping – trying to hold on and push toward an outcome that’s fixed in my head, my instincts tell me to keep my grip tight and don’t let go until I get what’s in my head. What I am finding is that when I spot the need to hold on, the best possible outcome is often to let go. The need to hold on tight is really just a sign that I am experiencing some emotion that’s uncomfortable.
Conversely, when my instincts tell me to let go – leave a situation, conversation or task in front of me – often the best possible outcome is to take a deep breath and hold on. The need to run is really just a sign that I am experiencing some emotion that’s uncomfortable.
Let me be real here with stories. I notice at work that when we face a challenge, I get an answer in my head and my instinct is to speak first in meetings (I’m the boss, by the way), and lead (a.k.a. push) the team in my direction. I have a talented team who brings amazing gifts and experiences to the Wisegate table – so why would I push to exclude their talents and creativity? When I notice myself wanting to push, wanting to speak first, I am practicing letting that go. Letting the experts around me be, well, expert.
At home this manifests when I have an expectation of how my day is going to go (or evening, or hour) and it doesn’t go the way that’s in my head. My instinct flares up and tells me to hold on to this imaginary vision in my head. When I can let go that what’s happening isn’t part of my plan (the dog tracked mud in, or the puppy needs attention in my hour of quiet reading time,) then I can usually see something spectacular unfold, albeit different than what was in my head. I am a lifelong white-knuckler, and this experiment is illuminating, freeing and provides some good chuckles (fully empathy included.)
On the hold-on-when-I-could-let-go front, I notice that when I am in a situation where there is some amount of confrontation, my instinct tells me to let go – get out of there quickly. When that happens, what I am experimenting with is holding on – staying through the discomfort. Without fail it passes like a cloud, and almost always progress has been made, air has been cleared, resolution has been made possible. I am a confrontation-avoider from way back, so I can go easy on myself here and treat myself with gentleness when I spot this happening.
Why is it that when our instincts say hold on, the answer is often let go? And when they say let go, the answer is hold on? Try it. It works.