You’re standing in front of a closed door.
You have absolutely no idea what, or who, is on the other side. Anything could be waiting for you.
You take a breath and take hold of the door handle.
You turn it, push, and step through, only to find….
What? What do you find?
Maybe it’s a room full of uniformed police staring you down, guns drawn, angrily yelling at you to freeze. Perhaps it’s the person you love most in the world, arms outstretched to welcome you. Or maybe it’s Al Pacino, enigmatically sipping at a bourbon, a spirited “Who ha” just about to erupt.
Chances are, when you open the door and step through your behaviour will change to suit what’s on the other side. If it’s the police you’ll throw up your hands or hit the deck; you’ll be more subservient or passive and you’ll behave in a manner that’s respectful of people in authority. Or maybe you’ll go the other way, be offended by their offensive stance and challenge them to explain themselves.
If it’s the person you love most in the world you’ll happily accept the hug they’ve offered you, and relax into their familiar, loving company while breathing a sigh of relief that there wasn’t anything nasty behind that closed door.
And if it’s Al Pacino, you might initially be a little star-struck, tuning your behaviour to be respectful but also trying hard to be “normal” and find the right thing to say without coming across as a fawning idiot.
Your behaviour shifts when you discover what and who is behind the door
That shift is often based on 2 things:
- What you expect will happen next.
- What you think is expected of you.
Your brain will run through what it knows and select a pattern of thinking that matches those 2 considerations, giving you a ready made map to navigate the set of circumstances you’re suddenly plunged into.
That’s your brains job; to ease your path through the environment.
It’s often useful and appropriate to adapt your behaviour to match the situation you’re in; after all, you wouldn’t want to run up to the Dalai Lama and slap him on the arse or strip down to your undies and do your special Beyonce dance in front of your mother. But sometimes it’s as helpful as a tit on a fish.
You end up making choices based on what you think is expected of you, instantly limiting your options and making sure you jump through hoops and second guess yourself.
Bottom line? It doesn’t matter what Al Pacino expects of you.
Great expectations give you great limitations
Forget what’s expected of you (particularly what you think is expected of you) and go through the door with a sense of YOU.
- You don’t need to fill in any blanks of thinking or behaviour; you can trust yourself to make it up as you go along.
- You don’t need to second guess what you should do or how you should behave; second-guessing precludes being at your best.
- You don’t need to be on the back-foot before you’ve even turned that door handle; nothing’s going to kill you and you can deal with whatever happens.
- You already have what you need to deal with what’s on the other side of the door.
Do you find yourself playing different roles or jumping through hoops in different circumstances? What gets in the way of you being YOU?