Check the Soil
Sometimes when we have really intense emotions, it’s because we are reacting to either incomplete or inaccurate information. In other words, maybe some of the information is missing, or maybe some of the information is not completely correct. Once we have the right facts, however, it then becomes easier to reset our emotions to match the actual situation. Just like a real garden needs the right soil, our emotional garden also needs the right facts!
Here are a few basic questions which can help us sort through just about any situation that seems to be triggering intense emotions. This is how we check the soil:
- What are the facts of the situation?
- What is true and what is not true?
- Which information am I missing?
- What is the worst-case scenario?
- How likely is the worst-case scenario?
- Will I die if the worst-case scenario happens?
- How can I cope with the worst-case scenario?
- What is the best-case scenario?
- What is the most likely scenario?
- How can I cope with the most likely scenario?
Let’s try out an example before you practice this on your own. Let’s assume your husband just came home late from work, for the second time this week. You are livid. Let’s check the soil!
Checking the Soil
1. What are the facts of the situation?
- My husband arrived 25 minutes late on Tuesday.
- My husband arrived 35 minutes late on Thursday.
- My husband did not call me either time to let me know.
- My husband usually calls me when he knows he is going to be late.
2. What is true and what is not true?
- True: This is not characteristic of my husband.
- True: My husband has been complaining a lot about his boss and deadlines.
- Not True: I have been noticing signs that my husband is cheating on me.
3. Which information am I missing?
- I don’t fully know what’s going on with his work situation right now. I need to have a conversation with him about his professional life.
4. What is the worst-case scenario?
- My husband is having an affair with the boss he keeps complaining about.
5. How likely is the worst-case scenario?
- Anything is possible these days, but this one is pretty unlikely. Let’s go with 5%.
6. Will I die if the worst-case scenario happens?
- No, I will not die. But my husband might! J
7. How can I cope with the worst-case scenario?
- We would need to get into marriage counseling ASAP. Assuming I don’t strangle him first!
8. What is the best-case scenario?
- My dear husband not only works so hard for his family, but he is also always so considerate and thoughtful.
- I am sure he spent all afternoon trying to text me, but his phone probably died from work overload.
9. What is the most likely scenario?
- He is probably overwhelmed with work stuff. When this happens, he tends to become less considerate of letting me know what’s going on in his work life.
10. How can I cope with the most likely scenario?
- After he has time to unwind this evening, we need to have a little chat about communication.