Have you ever been happily going about your business, when something unexpectedly brings you down? Where life throws you a curveball and ruins your day?
In the Hero’s Journey, it’s called an inciting incident. Movies often have an inciting incident, which is typically a dramatic event such as a child being kidnapped, a bomb exploding, a spy being caught, a murder, or a robbery.
For us, it could be something small like a burst geyser, a staff member not showing up, an argument with our spouse, or many other trivial things. There are a lot worse things out there that can trip us up.
I’ve found a way to keep one’s equanimity when things are conspiring against you: Respond. Reframe. Reset.
On Monday, November 13th, I was having dinner with a friend at a restaurant in Kyalami when a huge hailstorm suddenly occurred.
I knew this one was going to be devastating, and I knew my little car in the parking lot wouldn’t survive it.
I said to my friend that we should continue eating and having a good time. We’d have plenty of time after the meal to assess the damage.
Eina! My car had really taken a beating. The car had a broken wind shield, damaged headlights and tail lights, and numerous dents from hail.
I think my pulse went up two beats when I saw the car and I started spiralling towards a pity party. It was touch and go for about 30 seconds. I took a deep breath and found my centre.
Respond, Reframe and Reset
The breath that I took helped me calm down. I have long since realised that getting angry doesn’t solve the problem; it’s better to remain calm. All anger does is get my cortisol levels up and make me feel sick. I’m convinced the cumulative affect of anger can take years off one’s life.
Normally, I would shake my fists at the heavens and shout, “Why me?” “F*ck.” “Why did I come out tonight? I wish I had stayed home. Typically, I’d be spiralling down into regret, remorse, blame and shame.
I always ask, “What is being offered here?” What is the gift in this chaos? In this instance, I was afforded the opportunity to test to see if my positive attitude could stand the pressure. Would I crack and lose my temper as is my nature? I managed to stay calm. I even had the decency to tip the car guard who was looking so forlorn. It was hardly his fault now, was it? I went home, and had a great night’s sleep. I would deal with this in the morning.
Reframing is about finding the positive in the situation. Have a look at the ultimate reframe below:-)
At the battle of Thermopylae, a Spartan warrior, Dienekes was told that the Persian archers would blank out the sun with their arrows. He said: “Good then we shall have our battle in the shade.”
It took a week and a bit for the windscreen repair company to come replace the windscreen. I won’t lie, it was frustrating not to have a car for a week.
However, over the last month I haven’t been productive with my writing at all. I had to write because I couldn’t go anywhere. And this week I’ve got so much done. There was a positive aspect to this.
If you fall off a horse, they say you should get back on the saddle quickly in case you lose your confidence. I reset almost immediately. After contacting the insurance company on Tuesday, I continued with my work as usual, trusting them to handle it properly. Life goes on, after all.
And, there’s bound to be another curveball soon. If I became debilitated every time I made a mistake or stumbled, I wouldn’t be able to achieve much.
When curveballs are thrown at me, I don’t always get it right and I lose the plot. But I do it less and less these days. And, I’m better off for it. So, try to respond, reframe and reset and see how it works for you.