His company restructured.  His job duties stayed the same.  His salary didn’t change.  He started reporting to a different person and one of the people who reported to him started reporting to someone else.  That was how the re-structure impacted him.  He was embarrassed.  He felt demoted.  He wasn’t sure if he could stay anymore.  

What just happened here?  Anybody have an idea?  He saw something that wasn’t there.  He misunderstood the purpose of the restructuring.  In his mind, it became a commentary on his ability rather than a shift to a more efficient design.  

How many times have we “seen” something that isn’t really there?  First, there is an incident.  (The corporate restructure is announced or your mother-in-law . . . )  Next comes an emotion.  (My reaction to the corporate restructure or my mil).  My behavior follows my emotion. (I storm into the bosses office and huff and puff or yell at mil).  There is one huge and important piece of the formula that is left out.  

Incident -> Emotion -> Behavior is not the entire story!

In a nano second between the incident and the emotion, I’ve told myself a story.  The employee told himself that the leadership didn’t think he was good enough.  Or you told yourself your mother-in-law was out to get you. It happens in a flash and it doesn’t have to be the truth.  It’s just the story we tell ourselves and, for the most part, we operate unaware of the story. 

Think about a time your behavior came from an emotional place.  What was the story you told yourself?  My spouse doesn’t love me.  My child hates me.  My boss thinks I’m stupid.  The clerk thinks I don’t know what I’m doing.  The neighbor just doesn’t care about us.  What’s the story?

It seems preposterous but we react to some story we made up in our mind.  When emotions run high, it’s our responsibility to uncover the story we’re telling ourselves.  New York Times bestselling author and law firm founder, Bob Goff has a great way to fight this tendency in his life.  He chooses to go with the best possible explanation.  What is the best possible explanation for this?  Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this?  That changes the story immediately which impacts the emotion resulting in a different outcome.