Coach Ken Donaldson: Avoid Frustration, Irritation and Fatigue…Avoid Chasing Rabbits
“Underneath every bush you’ll find a mud rabbit ready to bolt.” ~ Old Proverb
Rabbits are fast…really fast.
And should you decide you want to chase a rabbit you can be assured that in the end, you’ll be extremely frustrated, very irritated and exceptionally tired.
So who would chase a rabbit?
Rabbits represent the type of conversations that have no end…they just go on and on and on…like that bunny on the TV commercial…remember him?
Yes, these conversations are typically steeped with long-winded stories full of classic self-pity: The “poor-me-ain’t-it-awful-why-does-this-always-happen-to-me” syndrome.
And if you engage in these conversations, you’re very likely to get your life force drained from you.
In other words, you’ll find yourself feeling the previously mentioned triad of frustration, irritation and fatigue.(Note: What you need is some highly effective communication strategies….read on!)
But maybe you felt compassionate for them.
Maybe you thought you could help them.
Maybe you thought they would really accept your solutions (and chances are you have some very good ones!!)
Rabbits play a game: They like to feel sorry for themselves and they wear it like a banner…poor me…ain’t it awful…why does this always happen to me?
What’s the payoff you ask?
Attention….because they get to stay in “the problem” and refuse any solutions, they will always have a hook to pull people in.
Sad, that this is their tactic to get attention.
In the end, which usually comes quite quickly, they burn people out and run people off.
All of which adds to their story.
But what can you do if you are confronted by a rabbit?
First, there are three simple principles to remember:
1.) Don’t chase a rabbit. Resist at all costs. Yes, you’re likely to be tempted out of guilt, compassion or obligation, but don’t do it.
2.) If you find yourself chasing a rabbit, remind yourself of the first principle.
3.) If you continually find yourself chasing rabbits, be aware that you are beginning to create the script to become a rabbit yourself.
So basically this means that you avoid these people and these conversations if possible.
However, there may be times when these sly rabbits sneak up on you and snag you into their trap.
In those cases, there are some simple and highly effective tactics you can implement to avoid chasing rabbits very far:
1.) The “What I hear you saying is…” tactic. This keeps you disengaged and distant. It keeps you listening instead of trying to come up with solutions (Remember, rabbits don’t want solutions).
2.) The “Tell me more…” tactic. You’re likely to resist this tactic because you may NOT want them to tell you more. However, this will keep you from getting pulled further into the story.
3.) The “That makes sense to me because…” tactic. You may also find yourself resisting this tactic because it may feel like you’re agreeing. You’re not. You’re simply letting the other person know that what they’re saying makes sense. This is still a neutral response, which is exactly where you want to stay.
4.) The “If I was in your shoes, I’d probably feel the same way…” tactic. This is called empathy. This reinforces that you understand. However, is still keeps you detached from any serious emotional entwinement with the rabbit.
5.) The “I need to go use the restroom…” tactic. Yes, there are times when you’ll need to physically remove yourself from getting sucked down the rabbit hole. Using the restroom, having to make a phone call or having another appointment, are all useful interventions.
Also, beware of the rabbit’s eyes: They seem to never blink and if you look too long or too deep, you may find yourself falling into the hypnotic trance and the rabbit will then draw you deep, deep into the rabbit hole and you could very likely lose all sense of reality.
Yes, these are some of the finer points of using effective boundaries in challenging and sometimes difficult situations.
If you have difficulty implementing these tactics, then you might just want to talk with a therapist or a coach to find out what might be blocking you.
Chances are, it’s something out of your consciousness and probably something from your subconscious that’s getting activated.