Here’s the situation:
You and your spouse are out on a long-overdue and much-deserved date, you got a sitter, you have eaten dinner and are at the theater and notice you have a missed call. You check the voicemail, it was the sitter. She says “I’m at the Hospital with little Johnny, just wanted to let you know, bye.”
I know my reaction: “What the… move – outta my way!!!” I would yell as I’m hurdling theater-goers, dodging ushers and dragging my wife with me to the nearest exit. As we make it to the car and panic finally begins to give way to common sense, I call the sitter back to get the details of how my child ended up in the Emergency Room. The sitter picks up the phone, my heart racing; I ask the fearful question “Is Johnny OK, What happened?” Not wanting to hear the dreaded answer, I hold my breath wondering if Johnny has a new allergy, did the baby gate fall down, I did tell the sitter Johnny can’t swim, right?
What would your reaction be to this scenario? What is going through your mind, is it similar to mine?
After what seems like an hour and at least fifty prayers later, she replies, “Johnny’s fine. Don’t you remember I told you there was a carnival at the hospital sponsored by the Fire Department that we might go to? I reply “Yes, of course I remember (I hadn’t), thanks for checking in.”
Filling in the Blanks
What was the reason I (and I’m guessing most of you), jumped to the worst possible conclusion? The very first (and only) things I thought of were negative scenarios. I call this process “Filling in the Blanks.” I filled in the missing information with the worst possible conclusions so that if the end result was not as bad as what I created in my head, it would be a relief. I do need to remember to Respond vs. React. When I respond to a situation, I take into account all the facts. Reacting is allowing emotion and fear to take control and dictate the outcome. When all the facts are not available I must seek out the truth rather than Fill in the Blanks with emotion and fear. With this awareness comes responsibility to make a change – one change at a time.