How would you respond in this situation? “I was once in a play, forgot all my lines,
(Are you running toward the exit? Hiding behind the set pieces? Launching into the Gettysburg Address because it’s all that comes to mind?)
…and for five long minutes I just said ‘yes’ until I remembered them.”
Whaaaa? Someone told me this recently and I was blown away.
If that isn’t a metaphor for handling uncertainty, I don’t know what is.
Slammed with a tabula rasa at the worst moment and you don’t flee? You pause
The idea is reminiscent of the Tina Fey quote that made the Pinterest rounds several years ago:
Her advice is on point, for sure: don't talk yourself out of opportunities by overthinking. But I’d push further. Pulling off a "yes" while staring down experiences you don't want ALLOWS YOU TO figure them out.
Mentally, “yes” keeps you limber. It’s affirmative, and, in a Pavlovian way, we ease off when we say it. “Yes” is the verbal equivalent of un-pinching the garden hose. The channel opens, information flows, business proceeds as usual.
Then, with unclenched jaw, the loose, relaxed mind entertains possibilities, imagines outcomes, and yes, remembers lines.
Anyone can use this strategy of acceptance when he loses his place. If life is but a stage (yeah, I went there) then we’re all actors who occasionally forget our lines. It happens when we’re overwhelmed or don’t feel ready. When we’re doubtful and unsure, or blanking at a crucial instant.
When you want to balk, dig in your heels, or shoot blindly, say yes. To the situation and to yourself. Accept, accept, accept.
Keep in mind, of course, that blind agreement all the time gets you roped into bake sales, local politics and long-winded conversations, typically with weirdos. So plan accordingly. But if your tendency is to freak out, stay on the proverbial stage repeating “yes” for as long as it takes.
Though ultimately it’s up to you. If you’d rather resist, go for it. Let’s imagine that actor fought the situation and tested out lines he did remember, hoping he’d guessed right and they’d seamlessly insert into the dialogue. Predictably, each time he blew it he grew frustrated, with the attendant spiking blood pressure, pouring sweat and building anxiety.
Suddenly, staying with the experience until it inevitably passes doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Next time, channel your inner Lebowski. Allow the chill brain to willingly wait and hang in there for the big reveal.
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