It took a few seconds to comprehend what the pilot had said.
Is this real?
The flight attendants scurry around the cabin making sure everyone's seat belts are security fastened.
The little girl two seats over from me is crying. The couple across the isle is tightly holding hands.
Then, I feel it.
A sinister voice in the back of my head tells me that the situation is probably much worse than captain stated.
This is it.
This is how I die.
With our people skills, we wonder...
-If someone doesn't say hi to us like they usually do, we think... are they upset with us?
-If we tell a joke that doesn't land, we replay the event over and over in our head, each time making people's reactions worse.
-If we walk across a crowded bar and start a conversation with that person, SWAT teams will descend from the rafters and arrest us.
The reality is: the monsters we make in our head by overthinking are always worse than the actual monsters.
Why do we do this?
Two big reasons:
-Negativity bias: We put 10x importance on potential negative outcomes, however unlikely.
-The spotlight effect: We assume (incorrectly) that everyone is focused on us like our own personal Truman Show.
When these two get together to party... It's game over for your confidence.
What can you do to sidestep the monster?
Know what you can and what you can't control.
You can't control the bad day that your conversational partner had any more than I could re-inflate that tire.
You can control how you present yourself, the words you say and the body language you use.
As the plane neared the runway, and I finished taking Pascal's Wager, I only focused on what I could control:
Bracing myself, locating the exit, and preparing for falling luggage.
As the tires hit the runway, I waited for the worst.
And I kept waiting.
The worst never happened.
What's something you've been putting off because of the monster?
-Is it asking that person out?
-Is it speaking up confidently at work?
-Is it making great small talk so that you can connect with new people?
Let me know in the comments.