Get a Reality Check

Are you really having a bad time or are you milking it?


I've used poetic licence here. I first saw this phrase on Twitter, "Are you really having a bad day or was it a bad 5 minutes that you are milking all day?"

I love this. It is an immediate reality check. We can often go overboard with our response in a bad situation which, when we look at it with objectivity, is a fleeting passage of time.

Buddha says, "Our lives are a creation of our minds", and if we choose to make a 'mountain out of a molehill' and over-react about matters that could just as easily be handled with a calm response, our lives are more likely to be a disaster zone; we'll be stressed and overwhelmed and it will feel like drama is out hunting us down. Responses to stress move us into Survival mode where clear thinking does not occur. We're aiming to operate in Competency mode, to choose our response, a strong indication of emotional intelligence.

Stop the Story

By responding differently to obstacles or challenging situations, we can stop the story of catastrophe, overwhelm, stress, and build resilience so we bounce back quicker. In fact, by choosing your response, it is not so much a question of bouncing back; you never went to Crazy Town in the first place. It's an irrational and false notion we have about an activating event that can be curbed.

The Scale of Awfulness

I came across this imaginatively named scale when I was studying my postgraduate certificate in Business and Personal Coaching. It's simple. It's effective. (It's also called the Scale of Magnification but I like Awfulness better!)

When 'disaster strikes', e.g. you've lost a client, you've missed a promotion, you've had a massive disagreement with an influencer at work, the barista didn't use almond milk in your latte on your way to work (yes - really!) - simply step back and breathe.

Imagine a scale from 0 to 10; 0 being the best thing that could happen to you (perhaps, being whisked off to a tropical island by your loved one, or becoming a mother / grandmother, etc) to 10, the worst thing that could happen - be extreme and realistic e.g. 10 might be death or torture (yes - really, this exercise is a bit graphic!)

Now think about the event that you are facing right now. Where does it come on the scale of best and worst things that could happen to you?

Yes. Exactly. It is generally going to be fairly low down the scale.

By applying the Scale of Awfulness to a difficult situation, it helps shift your locus of control from external ("This awful thing happened to me; I'm out of control") to internal ("Something happened but I control how I respond.")

It is also a massive stress-reducer. By looking at events with such pragmatism, suddenly the drama and heat are taken out of situations. The mountain becomes a molehill once again.

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