When Life is Uncertain – Part II

Internal Adaptation

In part one we said that we have to externally adapt to new situations – a new job, a new place to live, new friends, a new single life, etc, and that when we do that we ALSO  have to adapt internally, which can affect our self identity.

  • We question who we really are – our Self Concept
  • We question what good we can contribute to the world – our Self-Esteem
  • We question what we are really even doing here – Self Awareness
  • We feel like we are alone or no one understands us – Social Awareness

Self Concept Is our perception of who we are and what we can handle/what we are capable of doing. This includes the knowledge, talent and potential necessary for success. This is why it is so important to use each interaction after an adaptation as a chance to learn, to gain the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to this new environment.

How does this relate to ‘fake it till you make it’ when life doesn’t stop and we need to perform even when we are no longer in possession of the knowledge we need to succeed? Will talent and charisma temporarily bridge the knowledge/skill gap?

When we do ‘fake it till we make it’ and we do make a mistake, do we (self concept) believe we can learn from the mistake? Can we handle the rejection or disapproval of others when we don’t measure up? Approval is like a drug. If we crave the approval of others we begin to value their opinion of us over our own. Our decision-making process now changes to being unable to do anything without the approval of another person.

Can we, instead, look at the disapproval as simply a challenge to improve? If we do, we already win, because viewing it in a positive way will bolster our self concept. We are learning and growing by taking on this challenge because we are engaging ourselves to learn how to do something better, adding to our arsenal of capabilities.

Self-Esteem – Is confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; faith in oneself. 

When we know we are going to have to swing out to a new platform, now is a great time to do Self-Affirmations. Self-Affirmations are not the same thing as positive affirmations.

Self-Affirmations are thoughts about yourself that focus on qualities or abilities that you actually possess that you know have value and worth in the real world, such as, “I am a quick learner and therefore I will adapt quickly” or “I can see root causes quickly and know how to fix them”.

Positive affirmations are idealized versions of yourself, such as, “I will find great success!” or “I deserve the best!”.

The time to do a Self-Affirmation is before the possible rejection. Affirm to yourself your qualities and abilities before important meetings, big changes or when your anxiety is going to be the highest.

When we do make a mistake, and we receive the disapproval of others, if we do not have confidence in our own worth or abilities, this can even further reduce our performance. This is a vicious circle. As an adaptation, we MUST believe in ourselves and have faith in ourselves, that we WILL learn the new ropes, learn the new job, be able to find our way around a new town, find new friends, find a new partner (if we want one), heal.

When we look at the disapproval of others as a challenge, however, this allows our self-esteem to remain in tact.

Think about two people – 

One is an expert at one area their entire lives. Let’s call this person Sam. Sam has spent all his  time doing this one thing and getting better and better at it. In his life everything remains static.

The second person – let’s call her Chloe – has had many major changes. From the dock, Chloe   grabbed the rope and has swung out to new platforms OVER AND OVER. Will she ever become an expert again like Sam? Sure, but to what degree? That depends. Over the course of a life does Chloe swing out to 5 platforms? 10? 20? How long has she been on this last platform? So, the short answer is that YES, Chloe can become an expert as well as (or better than) Sam. Why? Because at some equilibrium point any level of expertise tapers off and levels out. There is nothing more to learn about that subject.

So Chloe, by swinging out to that platform, has increased the breadth of her knowledge and eventually catches up (or pretty darn close to it) to Sam. Furthermore, Chloe has increased her level of skills and capabilities more than Sam. Why? Because Sam has only the experience of one platform. This swinging back and forth, that felt so horrible at the time, has increased the adaptability of Chloe and thus her value to an organization and even to herself and her loved ones. At this point, after all she has gone through, she can adapt to just about anything!

So, swinging out to new platforms increases our own Self-Concept and Self-Esteem.

Self-Awareness Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires. Being knowledgeable or informed.

In addition, the more Chloe learns, the more she understands that she knows very little about the things that she doesn’t know.  This self-awareness needs to be the first thing she attends to. She needs to know how she reacts to things, what her triggers are, what she likes. What she doesn’t like. What her values are. What is important to her. From there, this self-awareness leads to a broader Social Awareness.

Social Awareness – has to do with understanding how we react to different social situations and effectively modifying our interactions with other people to achieve the best results.

In the grand scheme of life, Chloe sees that there is room for differing interpretations and understandings about people, culture and what change/adaptation can do (good/bad) to a person. She can see that people are just busy. It isn’t that they don’t care. She is never really alone if she will be the first to reach out to someone else and tell them she needs help. Also, many times this broad social awareness allows for a more liberal viewpoint than someone like Sam who has only ever had one dock and never swung out on any ropes. It helps Chloe to know that she should not judge others so harshly. Maybe they are going through a lot too? Sometimes people are swinging out on ropes and we don’t even know it. How any of us interact with others many times determines our level of success.

Benefits of Going Through Uncertainty

I have good news! All that uncertainty that made life horrible for a little while comes with benefits!

  • People gravitate to those who aren’t afraid to swing out on ropes. This can be a very good thing. New friends and opportunities will come out of it, for sure!
  • People who swing on ropes know how to do things others do not know – because they had to spend the time to learn a broad variety of knowledge, learn new skills and new capabilities.
  • They are seen as brave. It can be very scary to swing out on ropes, and people realize that.
  • People who swing on ropes are interesting and fascinating – almost as if they are some new alien species that has done things that ‘normal’ people could/would never do. #lifegoaldontbebasic 
  • After swinging on ropes, rope-swingers know that failure is normal and to be expected, and therefore freak out a lot less when they have to adapt to something new.
  • After swinging on ropes, rope-swingers know that there are LOTS of platforms out there to land on, even if temporarily.
  • After being out there on other platforms, a rope-swinger can JUMP to similar platforms without too much extra effort. #Bonus
  • Rope-swingers have come to understand that every time they swing out they learn how to do it better and adapt more quickly to the new platform. This creates ever-increasing success.

So…Uncertainty? It sure doesn’t feel good while it’s happening, but we have the ability to adapt – both internally and externally – to just about anything that comes our way.

So, hang in there ok? And reach out to someone who cares about you if you are hanging on a rope and can’t find that platform under your outstretched foot.

Copyright Devorah Allen 2018. All rights reserved.

Author: delisheva

I am a lover of life, a writer, a thinker, and have been known to sing a little karaoke. I am also a Certified Professional of Learning and Performance (CPLP), and am certified in Change Management and Six Sigma (Green Belt). I have an MBA from CSULB and am working on other certifications as well. In the meantime I love reading, blogging and walking and riding my bike in Long Beach with my lovely and intelligent wife Callie.

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