Every once in a while my computer locks up. In Mac land they call it the “pinwheel of death.” Microsoft people call it the “blue screen of death.” Anyway…it’s death. Sometimes the router for my in-home Wi-Fi just gets testy and stops communicating with my devices. I’ve had times when the “smart” stuff in my car has stopped working. How do I recover from these little tragedies? They all have reset buttons! Do a restart and all is well.
But what about my reset button? You know, the one that eliminates what’s causing me stress right now and gives me a new outlook on a situation and new energy to move forward? The way I see it, there are three types of reset buttons we can press when life is challenging us—if we remember to press them.
The “reset life” button
I need this one when life situations cause increased stress and struggle—when what’s happening does not align with what I want in my life at the time.
A short list of things that call for this button includes jobs, relationships, possessions (usually cars or houses), geography, and philosophy. It’s a Knower/Judger rule for me that I’m not supposed to “give up” on things, specifically those mentioned above. But there have been times when my personal circuit breaker has popped and I’ve no longer been connected to the situation. It’s an isolated don’t-give-a-shit feeling. I’m in place but I’m not peddling.
What happens then is I start to compare where I am with where I want to be and judge that position (from my K/J persona) as undesirable. The gap between what I want and what I have is the definition of frustration. The wider that gap, the more frustration I feel.
My mentor, Jut Meininger (author of How to Run Your Own Life), counseled me for years to simply give up the expectations to lower frustration. And that’s another level of reset button. The kind of reset button I’m talking about here is the one that battered spouses want to hit. There’s little psychological difference between putting up with the unforgiving cold of an Alberta winter and a spouse who releases his frustrations physically…it’s a gap between what I want and what’s good for me, and what I’m actually experiencing.
Then that K/J rule kicks in. I’m supposed to stick it out…make it work…it’s not that bad. The “reset life” button requires me to let go of that rule. It’s hard. And worth it. “Reset life” opportunities happen maybe three or four times in a lifetime, so it’s important to know when they’re upon us.
The “reset attitude” button
There are a variety of situations in which I can use this button—work, family dynamics, driving (think road rage). Resetting attitude comes into play when you’re judging something (because it doesn’t match up with your K/J expectation) and you find yourself moving counter to the “flow” of life. You can tell you need it when your proclamation of “right” or “wrong” silences a whole room!
It takes some practice to know when you’re in this situation. You need to be present. I’ve always likened it to observing yourself from a third-party perspective (fly on the wall). If I stay within my K/J judging, I stand little chance of seeing any benefit to resetting my attitude. If I invest just a little energy in seeing how my judgment is affecting my world, I can choose to reset my attitude. As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
“Reset attitude” moments can come many times in a week. They exist in our everyday life, and pressing the button can contribute immensely to the happiness of those around us and consequently to our own happiness.
The “do-over reset” button
My colleague Mary Lore taught me this one.
I’ve blown the “reset attitude” moment. What can I do right now to improve my life and that of those around me? I can humbly ask for a do-over.
Remember do-overs as a kid? I’d be tasked with something and I’d do a lousy job but see where I’d gone wrong. Alas, my turn had passed. Quick! I’d raise my hand and ask, “Can I have a do-over? Please?” Teachers always loved that one. It’s appealing because you’re at least attempting to get it right.
I needed to press “do-over reset” last weekend. On Saturday evening, my wife and I were discussing what time we had to get up Sunday morning to accomplish some task. I had thought through the situation and figured we needed about 20 minutes to drive to where we were going and about 45 minutes to shake off the cobwebs before heading out. We needed to be at ground zero by 7:30 a.m., so I suggested we set the alarm for 6:15 (buying us a little wiggle room). Unbeknownst to me, my wife had her own version of the math, and guess what…it didn’t match mine!
Here’s our conversation:
M: “What time do you think we need to get up tomorrow morning?”
K: “I figure around 6:15.”
M: “But if we blah, blah, blah…”
K: “Whenever the hell you want!”
You know how back in the ’60s TV stations had a visual of the American flag and total silence when they went off the air until they came on the next morning? This was just like that, except no flag.
I really meant that we could leave whenever she wanted. What got me was her reengineering my carefully planned timing (I am a professional rally co-driver, after all). Had I simply said “Whenever you want,” I believe the conversation would have continued amicably.
But I had to blast away with “Whenever the hell you want!”
Now I was in trouble. The horse was out of the barn and it was too late for “reset attitude.” Should have done that before opening my big mouth. What could I do right now to improve the situation?
Well, I didn’t press “do-over reset” immediately. Sometime after we arrived home the next day, I asked for a do-over and was graciously granted one. I simply stated what I wrote above—that I meant we could set the alarm for whenever she wanted and the addition of “the hell” in the middle of that statement was the result of feeling frustration (some of which had built up during the evening due to things that had nothing to do with her). Had I been more keenly aware of the frustration, I very likely could have pressed “reset attitude.” Alas, I was simply not present enough to do that.
I’m convinced that we can press “do-over reset” multiple times every day. They give us the opportunity to speak words in pencil and potentially erase them when we discover we’re disrupting the “flow” of what’s really happening.