It's all in how you look at it. A client recently shared a negative interaction she had with her boss. After she described the events, and her completely normal response, I challenged her to look at the situation from a few other perspectives. What if:
- Her boss had just had a run-in with his boss? Most of us are likely to lash out when we are attacked ourselves.
- Her boss was genuinely concerned for the organization and for her? How could his actions be seen more as a support than a criticism?
Typically, this is a difficult exercise. But here's the reality: how we respond to any situation in life is really a matter of perspective. If we are willing to consider a reframe – another way of looking at the situation -- it can potentially give us (or our kids) enough space to move forward when things get difficult. You can make it fun, like asking, “What would the dog have to say about the situation?” The trick is to find a perspective that you are willing to consider as an alternate reality, rather than feeling like you have to whole-heartedly believe it from the start.
Take my bickering kids (yes, please take them, anywhere!), for example. When I can get them to stop long enough, and encourage them to change places and explain the other's perspective, it can create sufficient space to negotiate a compromise. It may not get them holding hands and singing Kumbaya, but it's improvement.
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