A number of years ago I had a teacher who started out a seminar by greeting each of us with this statement, “Hey! there’s a squid on your face”! It caused a bunch of laughter and some puzzled looks as we all stared first at him, then at each other, each of us trying to see this “squid” he was talking about. It wasn’t at all clear until he started explaining to us what the “squid” represented.
Hey! there’s a squid on your face”! And one on mine as well…
The squid is our world-view. It the belief system through which filters everything coming in and going out. I like the image of a squid because it is multi-leveled and can be pulled off, tentacle by tentacle if we want to understand what our squid really is doing to us.
In his book, Presence-Based Coaching, Doug Silsbee states that “our world is unique to us, and no one else can fully understand it”. That’s fine by most of us until we bump against someone else’s understanding of our world. We often forget that our view is not everyone else’s even when we seem to be in the same page!
So here is where peeling that squid off and looking at it carefully can be useful. Imagine that each tentacle of the squid is a separate belief, and each one filters not only the information coming in, but also the way we respond. And usually we aren’t aware that it’s all been filtered!
“WHEN’S THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A 1-MINUTE REALITY CHECK DURING A CONVERSATION?”
If you’re like most of us, it might be a strain to answer that honestly.
So here’s your chance- take a whole 60 seconds,right now, and think of a conversation you had with someone today. How did it go? Was there something you felt wasn’t exactly going on the way you expected, or did you walk away feeling a little less than clear? If so, someone’s squid probably got in the way.
So what do we do to deal with the squid?
Funnily enough it’s the same thing most first grade teachers taught their students:
Stop, Look, Listen
Stop– Stop and breathe for a moment.
Look– Notice what feelings are arising in you in the moment.
Listen– listen to what the actual words being used are.
Now notice what your own reaction is and see if you can find the edges of that filter it’s all coming and going through. Is it a filter that is helping or hindering you? If it’s not helping you, what one thing can you change to shift it into a more helpful filter?
We often just need a moment of awareness to shift our perspective from negative to positive, to move from being caught up, to acting with resilience.
So give it a try and see what a shift towards resilience can do for you.
Our first grade teachers had a good point!
-With thanks to Devarshi Steven Hartman for the original quotation, “We all have a squid on our face”.