When someone says, “Get over it” we generally sink into our emotions instead of rising above them. How do you get over what you feel about something? Tell your story. You can make better decisions and get over stuck feelings by telling your story out loud to someone you trust.
Neuroeconomics is the study of what goes on in the brain that influences decisions.1 Most of these factors are subjective. Without conscious deliberation, your brain tilts you in one direction or the other due to your expectations based on your memories (will I be hurt or happy?).
The decisions are further influenced by your reactions to what just happened to in the last hour, including the emotions you just felt that relate to:
- pleasure (happiness, contentment, pride, confidence) and/or
- loss (anger, frustration, resignation, fear, tired).
Even if you know the facts, they aren’t the greatest motivation for action. You act on the stories you recall more than on facts you are given. The stories that guide your decisions and actions remain unconscious unless someone asks you about them. Telling your story gives you a chance to reflect on their relevance to you now, which could lead you to change your mind if you want to.
Conversely, if you don’t tell your stories, you act by habit and history. Your stories define you.
Byron Katie repeatedly asks her clients: “Who would you be without your story?”2 If you are willing to look at your story with the eye of an observer, you might be able to shift what you believe is true and make new choices for yourself.
The following guide will help you reflect on your story to better choose what’s next. Then I will share a few tips for you to help others who are stuck in their stories but hope to move on.
Steps to “Get Over It”
Organizational Change expert, Dr. Richard Boyatzis says, “You can’t see outside of the box until you see the box.” You must be aware of what you believe, assume, and feel about a situation before you can determine what else is possible.
By putting your story and emotions on the table and looking at them, you can choose to move on. What you observe, changes.
- Put your story on the table. Quickly, without much thought, tell what you think is happening and what is likely to occur next as honestly as you can, without explanation, omission, or worry about what is right or wrong.
- Declare what emotions you felt while telling your story. Fear might show up as anxiety, stress, worry, or feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Anger could be prompted by feeling hurt for being “wronged,” frustration for not to getting what you want, or being discounted in some way. You might also be irritated or annoyed with circumstances or feel betrayed by a broken trust or promise. Sadness relates to a tangible loss, a realization that a dream won’t come true, or a disappointment in yourself for a decision you made or action you took that you regret. Despair and resignation occurs when you lose hope.
- Uncover what you expected, hoped for, or was denied. After the first draft, ask yourself, “What am I avoiding? What have I done or not done to create this? What do I know but don’t like to admit? What do I not know?”
- Choose how you want to feel and what you will do next to move in that direction.
Psychologist Erich Fromm said we must hold our darkest sides up to the light of awareness instead of holding onto blame.3 Are you willing to put your story on the table? Are you willing to name your emotions and explore where they came from? You can release the grip your story has on you by telling it.
Holding the Space for Others to Tell Their Story
If you want others make new choices and actions, you need to be willing to listen to their stories without judgment and giving advice. People will not tell you what is on their mind if they don’t feel safe. Especially if you have more privilege or power, you need to get over your discomfort with what they reveal and let them describe their views of reality. Stay present and respectful as you:
- Ask them, “Please tell me what you think is happening now, what similar experiences you had in the past, and what you expect to happen next.”
- Notice what they are feeling, especially when their emotions shift up or down with anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, or resignation. Share what you notice about their expression and ask what is prompting the feeling. Accept if you are wrong, and then appreciate what they share next. Do not judge, try to change, or jump into your own story. Just say you understand why they might react that way.
- Ask what they expected, hoped for, or was denied that didn’t materialize.
- Ask what they now need and what they would be willing to do to move forward. Explore what parts of the story can now change. Discover what is possible to do now and what intentions to make to change the future.
People can change. Brains change. Hearts change. Behavior changes.
Listening with compassionate curiosity to your own stories and the views of others is the start of living into new stories.
1 Paul Glimcher and Ernst Fehr, Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain. Academic Press, 2014
2 Byron Katie, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. Three Rivers Press, 2003.
3 Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, Routledge, 2010
If you would like to talk about leadership skills training and coaching focused on improving emotional choice and connection, and having meaningful conversations, please reach out to me at: https://outsmartyourbrain.com/contact/