I talked to a guy on my radio show the other day who was scared. He called because he had just gotten laid off from a job he’d had for 28 years. He was making $38,000 per year and didn’t see it coming. He was afraid and hurt.
I understand. I got fired once . . . it can be devastating. You feel worthless.
My response caught him off guard. First, I told him I understand that he is scared and hurt—most people would be. Then I told him that I am so glad he got fired. I am sure he was thinking, “This guy is a nut.” See, if you have worked somewhere 28 years and you still make about half of an average income . . . your job sucks. He would have never left on his own. But now he can go be a new, better version of himself. I explained that if he lands a $50,000-a-year job in the next two months, then he can pocket four months of his six-month severance package as a signing bonus to a better life. But sometimes we think the next job always pays LESS. That is not a rule.
In college I took a graduate Psych class called Motivation and Emotion. Great class. One of the many things I remember from that class was the idea, or theory, that we name our emotions. For example, your physical reaction in your body is the same for Fear as it is for Anger. In both cases, heart rate goes up, eyes dilate, proteins are released, endorphins are released, perspiration begins, and in extreme cases you begin to shake. And somewhere in all this physical upheaval we name it . . . either Fear or Anger. “I am so angry” or “I am very afraid.” Same physical reaction.
Depending on what we name it, our actions will change. Name it Fear and you run—Flight. Name it Anger and you confront—Fight. Fight or Flight are such a part of our lives. This idea that when I am angry I might really be afraid or when I am afraid I might really be angry is confusing but also gives me hope. Hope that I can have the dignity to decide.
Is the glass Half-Full or is it Half-Empty? It is comforting and empowering to realize I am not a slave to a predetermined person inside of me that made that Half-Glassed decision for me before I was born. Are you a Scarcity person or an Abundance person? Maybe you can actually decide.
Zig Ziglar used to tell the story of the psychology experiment with the Pessimist and the Optimist. One little boy was a Pessimist and the other was an Optimist. The researchers placed each in a room filled with horse manure. An hour later the researchers returned and opened each of the doors. In one room they discovered the Pessimist in the corner crying. “Why are you crying?” they asked. The little Pessimist answered, “Of course I am crying. You locked me in a room full of horse manure.” Then they opened the door of the little Optimist and found him laughing, giggling, running around the room throwing manure in the air and covered in it. “What are you doing?” the researchers asked. The little Optimist answered, “With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!”
I don’t know about you, but self-control is hard for me. Sometimes I am a Pessimist or a Glass-Half-Empty guy or a Scarcity guy. I have never found that to work out for me, but sometimes I am still that guy. The quality of my life and my relationships went up dramatically when I decided I can, and I must, intentionally give situations a name that causes me to win. I might need to name this an Opportunity instead of a Challenge. I might need to fight for what is right rather than run.
I know this about you: Life is coming, and sometimes it is bringing a room full of manure. I also know this about you: you have the power and the dignity to decide how to name the situation. That is a power given to you by God. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
I am on your side. I think you are going to win. I believe in you.
There is a pony in there somewhere . . . go find him.