Big and Scary Is All in Your Perspective

by Alli Polin on February 28, 2014

You choose your perspective, you claim your power over fear

My phone was ringing early this morning.  I knew it had to be important, so I picked it up expectantly.  “Hello?”

My husband lovingly gave me a warning:  “I don’t want you to be shocked when you leave the house.  There is a huge bug right outside of the door.  I wanted to let you know just in case it’s still there.”

Stress Comes In, Logic Goes Out

My thinking began to spiral…

  • He gave me a heads up, it must be bad.
  • Should I go out through the back door and avoid the front for the rest of the day?
  • Will it be a biting variety?

Watch the Stress Wildfire Grow

It seemed logical to send my children to the door to check out this bug of now mythical proportions.  They thought they saw something moving but couldn’t be sure.  My son began to conjecture that it’s a fast runner and we needed a game plan to minimize all risk.  Clearly, we needed to adjust our routines to be able to outrun the bug on our way to the car.

Will Ignoring Make it Disappear?

I couldn’t think about the bug and teeth brushing, breakfast and shoe tying at the same time.  I put it out of my mind to focus on the tasks at hand.  At this point, despite my focus, I was running late to get the kids to school.  Fortunately, I  didn’t have any client meetings so I did what every parent has done at one time or another, I threw a shirt over my nightgown and got ready to hop in the car to zip them to school.

That’s when we opened the door. 

Everyone Reacts in Their Own Way

My kids made the leap over the bug, with some squealing, hopping and jumping.  Unfortunately, nobody was squealing as loudly as I was.  It had moved exactly where I needed to step.  I yelled to the kids from the safety of the screen door that if they started running to school now, it’s possible they would get there before the bell.  They both turned to sprint but my son looked back and said, “Please give us a ride.  I don’t want to be late.”

He needed me to step up, suck it up and be a leader, not a scared, stressed fool.  I’m 66 inches tall and this bug was no more than six.  I made the leap too, despite my overwhelming and irrational fear, because my children, my team, needed me.  They needed me to show them that it’s OK, that a bug is just a bug and will not beat us and, most importantly, they needed me to show them that their needs (and success getting to school on time) was more important than my fear.

As I pulled out of the driveway to pick up the kids jogging halfway down the street, I watched the bug climb up my door frame.  It was continuing to test me.  Would I sit in my car all day with no money, no computer or phone, in my pajamas or would I take on a more powerful perspective and do what I needed to do?

Your Big Scary Bug May Not Be as Big and Scary as You Think

Once safely back in the house I noticed my daughter didn’t bring her hat to school and the bug and I would meet again.  This time, I didn’t squeal or leap, I moved with purpose.  I turned and looked at him in the eye with more curiosity than fear.  With curiosity, he began to look simply more green and leggy than big and scary.  When I transformed my way of seeing, he transformed his way of being.

Do you have people on your team or in your organization that are a lot like my new pet bug?  They look big and scary but it’s just the way they’ve evolved to protect themselves?  If you look again, in a new way, your fresh perspective may transform your relationship.

How do you turn off stress to embrace success?

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson February 28, 2014 at 8:13 am

Alli,

For starters- I CAN TOTALLY RELATE to your concern of the bug. I had an problem once with spiders (the HAIRY kind (wolf spiders)), and honestly, I let them rule my life. I would sleep with the light on (they were less likely to come out). I would have mini panic attacks before I opened a cabinet (honestly- it was a BIG problem).

Reading through your post gave me chills thinking about that short, creepy time in my life, but made me think of the lessons I learned. One was that if you step on a bug that big, you FEEL it no matter what shoes you are wearing (I only did that once). But also- I lived through it. I survived and my furry little friends and kind of made peace with each other. I learned to take a deep breath and move through that panic and not let them rule my choices or I would have NEVER gone home!

It also helped me figure out what was important for the next stage of my life. I recognized how much I value my living space and when I moved to RVA, I made it a priority.

Thanks Alli!

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Alli Polin February 28, 2014 at 8:21 am

Danielle,

First of all, thank you for taking the time to comment and share your story! A few months ago I had a run-in with a huntsman spider and I still have moments when I’m sure I see one out of the corner of my eye. Deep breaths really do work!

It’s funny when we do “that thing” that puts us in control of our fear instead of letting it run us. For you, that sounds like your squash moment. For me, it sounds silly, but it was standing there long enough to lock all of the locks on my door while it stared at me (or so I thought!)

Love how living thorough things like that make other things in our lives so much clearer on the other side.

Many thanks!

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Terri Klass February 28, 2014 at 9:01 am

I am still laughing, Alli, thinking of you confronting this scary looking creature while your kids just move on. For me, I hate, hate bees and I make crazy movements when they are near me. I can’t rationalize the fear of a bee sting. Yet your wonderful post gives me hope and perspective.

The demons and scary things we confront are only as challenging as we allow them to be. Talking ourselves through how to best handle these confrontations or bouncing the ideas off of someone’s opinion we value, can be most empowering.

Thanks for a new look at things!

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Terri – That’s the truth! Things are only as big and scary as we allow them to be!

I stood there long enough to call forth my confidence and courage but at the heart of it, it is truly about empowerment. We choose: Does someone else or something else really get to take away our personal power?

Many thanks for sharing your story and your insights!

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Carl February 28, 2014 at 9:09 am

I’m with Terri – still laughing here! However, having spent time in your land of OZ, I must say that you have some of the biggest bugs (especially spiders) I’ve ever seen. And as our friends in NZ would say ‘some of ’em ‘ll kill ya!’

Great story

Carl

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Seriously, Carl! I think that’s why I get so freaked out here by the bugs – they are bigger than I’ve ever seen and most of them are new to me! Kind of like it is for anyone that starts a new job with a new organization 😉

Thanks for backing me up that I’m not crazy and these bugs are HUGE!

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Joy Guthrie February 28, 2014 at 9:52 am

Great story Alli. Some of the best friends I ever had were big and scary before I got to know them. Thanks for reminding me that it’s all in your perspective.

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Joy – How true is that! Some of the people that I’ve been most intimidated by, I was more often wrong than I was right about who they are and what our relationship could look like if we both opened our hearts and minds.

Important point and I’m so glad you brought it forward!

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Bill Benoist February 28, 2014 at 10:35 am

Alli,

As the primary bug and spider warrior in my family of three women (wife and two daughters), I could not stop laughing as I read this. You’re a great writer!

With that said, your approach with the bug is what I often encourage my clients to take with difficult people that make them want to duck into the nearest broom closet when they see them coming. By simply changing our thinking, we in turn can change our perspective of the situation.

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Bill,

You an my husband share an important household function 🙂

Still, I think that it’s AMAZING how a shift in our perspective can bring a shift in the quality of relationships and our results. I too work with clients to find a more powerful perspective and act from there. Makes a huge difference! I’m with you!

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Blair Glaser February 28, 2014 at 10:44 am

I am laughing and appreciating your courage and recognizing myself all at the same time. I needed to hear this one today, Alli! No bug is gonna get in the way of my vision!

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Hear, hear!

Here’s to being intimidated for long enough.
Here’s to thinking that someone else has got it all together and I’m the one that’s missing something.
Here’s to having a vision and rocking it out!!

Wouldn’t want to do it without you in my corner.

Thanks, Blair!

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Audra February 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Oh Alli, I can relate and I loved hearing your humor come through in the story. For those of you who haven’t been to Australia, they grow some really big bugs down there!!! Kudos to you for seeing the message in the mess of life.

Hugs dear friend!!!!
Audra

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Audra,

You know it!! Not only are they big, but also totally unknown to me – like a double whammy in the fear department. Glad to share the days events – helped me to shift my perspective too!

xo

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Sharon Reed February 28, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Great story and perspective, Alli! When I lived in Australia and Asia as a child, we certainly had our fair share of unsettling bugs and critters, and I particularly appreciate your wisdom with respect to how these ‘bugs’ may look big and scary, but it’s just the way they’ve evolved to protect themselves. The key for me has been learning to take a deep breath, reframe, step aside where necessary, and continue moving forward with my own vision. Great stuff!!

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Sharon,

Deep breaths can go a long way! Just in the past year I’ve really reconnected with how much breathing truly does help us to create the space to let go of the stress, anger and anxiety and welcome in a more powerful perspective. If all the bugs out there stopped us, we’d all be at a standstill. With a vision like yours and the Global Girls Project, the world needs you!!

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Karen Jolly February 28, 2014 at 6:41 pm

I’m with Terri and Carl – still laughing! I can only imagine what that bug was thinking when you faced it eye to eye. It’s probably eating dinner with family and discussing the monster that stared him down today!! 🙂

So, so true how we can build up a person or problem to be way worse than they are. Often as you mentioned, it is just someone else’s perspective of the situation that has scared me – when I dig into it myself or face the person myself, I find its nothing like what was explained to me. Good to face life with a more open mind.

Thank you for sharing Alli! xo

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Your comment reminds me of a recent experience I had, Karen. My old neighbors told me that the people that lived next door to them were mean and nasty and I carried that perspective with me every single time I saw them. My new neighbors recently had us over to dinner with the “big and scary” neighbors on the other side and it turns out they are funny, caring and friendly. Glad I opened my mind to see and experience them in a new way!

I truly believe that most of the intimidation that happens is in our minds. Letting go of the fear that holds us back opens up the space for remarkable things to happen.

Thanks so much for your comment and insights, Karen!

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Jon Mertz March 1, 2014 at 9:14 am

Alli, A wonderful point on how we can take small things and make them into big ones, preventing us to move forward in fearless ways. Great story to embrace! Thanks! Jon

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm

We do that! We make small things (like my six inch bug) HUGE. Knowing we do that is the first step to embracing a new perspective and fearlessness.

Always appreciate your insights, Jon. Thank you!

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Keith Stendebach March 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Best line and take-away: “Do you have people on your team or in your organization that are a lot like my new pet bug? They look big and scary but it’s just the way they’ve evolved to protect themselves?” Almost always, yes.

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Thanks for your comment, Keith!

Truly, like in nature, people evolve and create some super tough persona’s in response to what they see as threats. Working to see past that can be hard, especially when we’re super intimidated, but almost always worth it. In the end, (at least at the office), underneath it all they’re just another human being.

Thanks, again!

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LaRae Quy March 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Great post, Alli! I lived in Texas for one year and met bugs there so big that you simply do not swat…if you did, you’d need to paint the wall afterwards. They create one big mess….

At any rate, I love the way handled the situation…sometimes we have to move closer to the fear to overcome it.

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Ha! TOTALLY understand the “do not swat or squish” unless you want to contend with a seriously big mess!

Brilliant! “Move closer to the fear to overcome it.” Running the other direction never makes it go away and in fact, more often than not, only serves to make it bigger.

Thanks, LaRae!

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Gerald Weber March 2, 2014 at 11:12 am

I can’t quite tell but is that a praying mantis?

If so they are one awesome bug. They are like the coolest predator bug around.

I love the analogy how the bug being scary is all in the perception. Good stuff.

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Alli Polin March 2, 2014 at 8:54 pm

My neighbors and I decided it wasn’t a praying mantis but a super huge stick bug of some kind. Took a close look to stop being afraid and really understand what was in front of me.

Many thanks for your comment, Gerald! I’m keeping my eyes open for another one (then again, they’re kind of hard to miss!)

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