A co-worker approaches you after a long day and starts complaining about ________ (you can fill in the blank). You heartily agree and begin adding to the story with your own rendition of said complaint. In the blink of an eye, not only are the two of you venturing down a rabbit hole of ugliness, you’ve sent the storyline way into the future, painting a bleak, hopeless picture.
How many times have you experienced some version of the scene above? If you’re honest, you, along with the rest of us, have participated in this type of fearful, limiting dialogue and if you take your honesty one step further, you are never better because of it.
In The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander discuss the following as a key practice in opening up and living in a world of possibility. We must distinguish between downward spiral talk and conversations for possibility. The question they challenge us to ask is:
Think carefully. Your answer matters.
So how do you stop the ever-so-tempting downward spiral and contribute to possibility? It takes a concerted, intentional effort, but when you start noticing and practicing these changes, you will experience a positive and up-lifting difference not only in yourself but in those you impact.
- What you take note of, you get more of. Ever heard of the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon” or “frequency illusion?” It is the experience when you learn a new piece of information (a new word or name, a car you’re thinking of buying, etc.) and all of a sudden you notice the same subject again and again. When you turn your attention to something, that is exactly what you are going to notice in abundance. Try to intentionally take note of the positive, rather than negative, events that happen during the day, and all of sudden, more positive things start happening. Attention is like sunshine, so choose carefully what you shine your attention on because you will see that very thing grow and multiply.
- Step back. Sometimes you get so caught up in the trees that you lose sight of the forest. When you feel yourself or someone else getting caught in downward spiral talk, take a step back, think long-term, and verbalize your vision. When we think big picture, so many of those little things that the downward spiral exaggerates become as insignificant as they truly are. Is it going to matter in 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, or 5 weeks? No? Good. Now move on.
- Use “we” language rather than “me” language. When you speak from a place that opens up avenues and pathways to possibility, you are asking others to take the journey with you. Invite others to think about things in a different way, make them feel safe to venture with you, and then value the contributions and gifts they offer. Then, watch all of what could be open up before you.
- Reframe your perspective. The Zander’s offer up this parable in the first few pages of their book.When you realize the true power you hold in creating your own perspective, the possibilities are endless. Try looking at situations that the world has trained us to believe as an obstacle, instead as an opportunity for growth.
The downward spiral is so easy, yet oh so dangerous. If you are willing to chase greatness, think about how you speak and approach situations. Are you willing to radiate and amplify possibility? Tweet and tag me (@me1odystacy) to share how. I’d love to connect with your possibility because together we are brilliant! Or feel free to start a conversation by commenting below.