Ever make a mountain out of a molehill?

I caught myself doing it last week and had to coach myself out of it.


What was going on?

Well, there was a pandemic, a heated presidential election, and I was exhausted.​

What happened?

I got really annoyed by something and caught myself reaching for candy – a lot of candy. It was mindless. I wanted a jolt of endorphins and energy to feel better. Of course, you and I know this type of mood boost is only temporary but I reached for it anyway.

True confession, I was very frustrated and mindlessly ate a bunch of sweets including a full box of hot tamales candy in less than 5 minutes. Interestingly, I don’t even think I tasted them.

What happened next?

I stepped away from the box of candy, literally and figuratively. Then I:

  • Took a deep breath. (Well maybe a bunch of deep breaths.)
  • Told myself to stop. I think it went something like “Come on Dawn, stop it, this is not helping you!” (Self talk really does work.)
  • Shared it with my husband, which was cathartic. (Note my husband was not what frustrated me.)
  • Saw the full picture and shifted my perspective. As I described the situation to my husband, I heard myself saying, “I know it’s not that big of a deal. It is sounds like a molehill, but it feels like a giant mountain to me.” Describing the situation and my feelings enabled me to shift my perspective in the moment. (Seriously amazing and super surprising to me. This is why talking things out is helpful as it allows us to see situations clearly.)

So what?

We are facing unprecedented times and this stress may cause small things to appear GIANTIC. This happens in our personal lives as well as professional lives. To intervene, we need to interrupt the process that creates the illusion of a mountain. For example, when:

  • You get that text or email that makes your blood boil, sleep on it and reply tomorrow. (Consider: what’s another interpretation of what is being said here? What are the facts?)
  • Someone cuts you off on the highway, take a breath and consider what may be going on that they are in such a hurry. Shift your focus back to the road and what matters to you.
  • One of your employees is late to work or a meeting. Instead of reacting, consider: is this a repeated problem? Are they OK? What could be going on that might be causing this? Inquire before assuming.

Put the Hot Tamales down. Step back and “reframe” the situation to create a productive response.

Don’t climb the mountain. Calmly step over the molehill instead.

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