I was listening to the Ten Percent Happier podcast where Dan Harris was interviewing Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett. Dr. Feldman Barrett is a neuroscientist who studies emotions and she told the greatest story that we can all learn from. She relayed that her daughter was 12 years old and trying out for her black belt in karate. This small 12-year-old girl was going to be sparring with teenage boys much bigger than her. You could easily imagine that this young lady was quite nervous. Her sensei did not say to her, “Don’t be nervous” or “You got this, don’t worry”. The teacher said to her, “Get your butterflies flying in formation.”
Dr. Barrett explains that when we are experiencing emotion, especially difficult emotions like stress and anxiety, we have a choice to make. We can look at these emotions and give up or we can try to reframe these emotions and give them different meanings. This young lady was certainly nervous and, most probably, feeling an upset stomach and perhaps some mental fog. What her teacher was telling her was to accept all those feelings and get her head in order and do her best.
How do you handle stress? Are you able to get your butterflies flying in formation?
How do you frame your stress? Do you tell yourself that you are not competent and you are going to fail? Or do you tell yourself that you are the best person for this job and your only worry is proving it? Or do you remember the last ten times that you were stressed over something similar and came out the other end getting compliments on your work?
Dealing with stress can be, well, very stressful. Having a good friend or a coach help you get through it can be very helpful. So don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Whether your stress is caused by new job, a new baby or a karate test. Realize that your stress is justified and get your butterflies flying in formation.