Whoa, Woe and WHOA!!
I’m thinking about words today, and how they help us determine an experience. More pointedly, what we experience in an experience.
The title of this post illustrates this idea a bit—three same-sounding words with different meanings, depending on how and when they’re used.
Let’s look at this a bit closer, but we’ll start something a little off-color.
NOTE: If you’re at work, you might want to put in your ear buds before you hit play. Ditto if there are young ones around. There’s some colorful language in this clip:
Okay, so I confess. I laughed ‘til I cried the first time I watched that video. I do have a bit of warped sense of humor so maybe that’s not all that surprising. Sham wasn’t very nice to this guy, was he? He kinda did what he wanted to do, despite the rider’s begging and pleading for a good part of two minutes.
How often does life feel like this? We set out with hopeful intent and things just go sideways. Out of our control. A big WHOA! (Or woah, depending on your preference/place of birth).
Our tendency to react makes these kind of events tricky. This kind of whoa can quickly turn into a woe. A victim narrative—“I did all this and this is what I get? Why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this!”
You get the idea.
With that frame of mind—that filter—suddenly many things seem to be following the same disastrous route, both from our past and in our present. Our brains start logging evidence of how MANY things don’t go our way. We begin, rather unintentionally, a bulleted list of similar circumstances/events. How the crappy feeling seems familiar. And guess what? Another woe comes rolling down the pike.
The woeful thinking cycle.
But here’s what I’ve been playing with lately. What if I turn that “Whoa!” into a “whoa”? What if I can reframe my experience from a place of curiosity? Or astonishment? Or opportunity? How will I feel then?
I used this re-frame recently when a decision was made that impacted me greatly, more than I would have predicted before it happened. A company I had enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with made a change that eliminated my position. The details of this change up don’t matter really; suffice it to say that although I felt this scenario could happen at some juncture, I still felt quite blindsided when the announcement came.
Curious, right? My rational mind felt that change might happen, but my emotions weren’t really ready for it. I thought they were, but I could tell by my own anxious post-announcement reaction that I’d been kidding myself.
So what to do? How to re-frame this experience?
Well, I did exactly what I’m suggesting you do regardless of the particulars of your circumstance. I’m suggesting you
I can tell you that this discipline, regardless of what circumstance you’re dealing with, changes everything. I believe it slides us into our potential, rather than our trouble.
Because there’s always potential. Everything in our lives can be viewed as either an obstacle, or an opportunity.
Nurture your nature. Click here for details.
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personal development and Equus coach, former Penn State journalism instructor and professional writer.