Make Stuff Up Disorder
I introduced Make Stuff Up Disorder (MSU) several weeks ago in the post, Do You Suffer from Make Stuff Up Disorder? We all suffer from this disorder from time to time. If you say, I do not make stuff up in my head under stress…well, I do not believe you.
This time, I want to talk about 3 ways to treat this disorder. You can never cure it, but you can reduce its effects.
Stop, Drop and Roll
Do you remember when, as a kid, you were told to stop, drop, and roll should your clothes ever catch on fire? The idea was that your natural reaction to having fire on your body would be to panic and run. They came up with an easy to remember a saying that told you exactly what to do. So, before panic could set in, you’d remember to stop, drop, and roll. Make sense?
Many of us have triggering events that set off panic. Let me tell a story.
Mary is a client of mine. Every time her boss calls her on her cell phone, she girds herself for the worst and answers the phone. Mary’s boss is a bully, so she is always looking for alternative ways to communicate with her and to minimize discussions.
Last week Mary was attending a conference. She was quite happily listening to a session when she felt her cell phone vibrate. She looked down at the caller ID and it was her boss.
This time, she did not immediately answer and let it go to voicemail.
What she did next broke her pattern. She texted her boss back saying she was sitting in a session and could not take her call. She asked via text whether there was anything she could help her with via text.
Her boss replied that she too was coming to the conference and just wanted Mary to know. Mary never went into panic mode. It this case, there was nothing to worry about.
Normally, Mary would have allowed her head to make stuff up. But on her own, she had determined her own “stop, drop, and roll” routine, and executed it flawlessly. She controlled the narrative rather than letting her boss dictate her emotional state.
Identify triggering events that cause you to make stuff up. Develop your own “stop, drop, and roll” procedure. In Mary’s case, it was not to impulsively call her boss back but to text her instead.
Can you identify a ‘make stuff up’ triggering event and then develop your own “stop, drop, and roll” procedure?
When a crisis arises in our life, most of us will instinctively predict the future. We will predetermine in our heads what the outcome will be. We make stuff up!
This happened to me just the other day. I have decided to cut the cable and eliminate our cable TV subscription. I have been waiting for Google Fiber to come into our neighborhood, but it has dragged out for months. I am predicting in my head what it is going to happen when I call the cable company to reduce the service to basic Internet and not discontinue it altogether.
Do I know it will be a hassle? NO. I am predicting it will be a hassle.
After a crisis has played itself out, go back reflect on what stories you made up. Were they based on fact, or did you just make stuff up?
In my previous post on Make Stuff Up Disorder, I mentioned Susan who heard about a layoff in her area and immediately went into stress mode, worrying that she would get laid off.
After the fact, we reviewed what had happened and what she could have done differently. She could have stayed calm and contacted her manager about the realities of the situation.
Reflecting back to discover what stories you make up is a great method of short-circuiting the process.
The next time a crisis arises, will Susan make stuff up? Probably. However, she has the opportunity to catch herself, at which she will get better and better over time.
Lack of Communications
I just had a conversation with a client, Nancy, who tells me there is tension between her and her boss. When she took the job, the boss told her she was hard to work for.
Nancy only talks to her boss when something goes wrong. She makes stuff up in her head like:
I am not doing a good job.
My boss does not like me.
They are setting me up to let me go.
Is any of this stuff true? I do not know…and neither does Nancy.
Just like with Mary in the 1st example, Nancy needs to manage the communication. Right now, Nancy and her boss only communicate when something goes wrong. What we decided to do was pick a time on Fridays for Nancy and her boss to discuss the following week’s schedule.
Nancy needs to talk to her boss on her terms. She needs to manage the communication to find out what her boss really thinks. By the way, her boss is very moody and even knows it.
Managing communication is better than to have communication happen to you.
You may have noticed that all 3 examples I gave were women. Are men immune from the disorder?
HECK NO! We will not admit it, but we make stuff up as much as our female counterparts.
Do you make stuff up in your head? If you have read this far, I’m sure you do.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these examples?
Which of the treatments might work for you?
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