You’ve just spent the week working on a project that you’re feeling quite good about actually. Sitting in the team meeting, waiting to give your update, you are reasonably expecting to get some kudos from your boss afterward.

But that’s not what happens. She drills you with some out-of-left field questions, and leaves you feeling ambushed, as she moves on the next agenda item.

You feel a lot of things after this exchange: Embarrassment, anger, disappointment and whether not it’s conscious…your nervous system is feeling quite threatened.

As the day goes on you can’t stop thinking about it and lose a lot of time imagining how it all happened and where you went wrong. The subtext of your thinking: how did I mess up so badly and not realize it?

When we get bogged down with stress, it can feel like we’re stuck, unlucky, or suddenly not good enough. But that’s not the truth. That’s the erroneous conclusion of stress-thinking.

Our individual power (to act, to speak up, to advocate or create) is unstoppable when we persistently move in the direction of the change we want. But there is a catch. We are limited to using our own power.. We can’t control other people’s. This is where we can get tripped up.

It’s so darn easy to let your attention get stuck on what other people “have done” or “are doing”…Or worse yet…”what they might do or think of me.” But this is the habit of seeing other’s power more clearly than your own.

But when we get stuck in stress-thinking. The bait can go something like this…”It’s so unfair that…” or “How dare they ask me to….” or “It’s so ridiculous that….”

Our attention doesn’t just naturally stay where it can serve us. It can spill into all sorts of judgment or fear about other things and other people. And these spills are like trying to build a well on someone else’s land. Sure you may be successful at building the well. But you can’t guarantee 100% access or control of it. There is a place where we do have 100% control though… Our own actions and our own communication.

Fear and stress are powerful hypnotizers. They can put us in that trance of feeling powerless. But fear and stress can be managed. This is the purpose of the self-visibility. Seeing your authentic self and staying connected to it, lets your attention stay “at home” with your own power. What does that look like?

[Approximate Inner dialogue]: “Gosh that comment my boss made this morning really pisses me off. (And she’s my boss so that easily gets me feeling really threatened.) How dare she act like I’m not competent…I worked really hard on that project…Really hard….[Insert a moment to feel the anger AND the fear in a self-loyal and compassionate way]…Okay…I can’t control what’s already happened, but I CAN advocate for myself…I can schedule some time with her to explain my side of the story here and clarify what I think she misunderstood…I can’t guarantee I’ll change her mind…But I deserve to advocate for myself…And…I really need do something fun tonight…I’ve been doing nothing but work for the last three days…yep I deserve something to look forward to after this day”

Jessica Kiesler
Jessica Kiesler

Jessica is the creator of The VisibleU Method. Over the last 20 years she has helped hundreds of busy adults create more balance within and with others. Jessica received her master’s degree in applied psychology from New York University, and completed mediation training at the Columbia University School of Law. She has held numerous clinical roles, managed clinical operations for a national EAP, and advised executives on employee-relations concerns at Fortune 1000 companies.