This post looks at how you can practice Acceptance after making an error while doing a presentation at work. This is an experience that many people often go to intense, life-limiting lengths to avoid:
Step 1: I’m giving a presentation at work and I make an error during the presentation. I say an incorrect number when talking about some projections. All sorts of thoughts pop into my head about being a bad employee, a terrible presenter, that everyone else must think I’m stupid, etc. I recognize that those thoughts are a natural result of making an error, just like a runny nose is a natural result of going out in the cold. But I am not my runny nose. It’s just something that happens.
Step 2: I accept the thoughts I’m having. My colleagues might be disgusted with me, they might not be. They might think I’m an idiot, they might not. These are all uncertainties I can’t control or resolve. I could try, of course, but that would only create more anxiety. So I accept the thoughts. I don’t try to answer them, control them, or change them. I accept that the error happened and that I’m having thoughts about the error being negative, but I don’t validate those by reacting to them or trying to compensate for them. They’re only thoughts I’m having.
Step 3: I act by my values. I want to give a presentation that effectively delivers my points clearly so that my colleagues leave with a better understanding of the information I want to convey. So with that value in mind, I correct my error in a way that will ensure I’ve delivered my point clearly. I don’t correct my error to try and get people to like me or to make them forget my error. That would just be reacting to fear in an attempt to control uncertainty. Fear doesn’t decide how I act. My values determine how I act.
Step 4: After the meeting, I don’t try to do things to make up for the error or go on a disastrous judgement streak. I don’t try to check with people to see if they’re annoyed or think I’m not good at my job because of the error. I don’t try to do things to control or check on what people think about what just happened.
Even with something that might seem like a good idea, like trying to make sure people know I’m sorry about the mistake, I’ll only be confirming to my brain that the mistake actually is something for people to be annoyed or upset about. Why else would I need to check?
NO MATTER HOW STRANGE, NO MATTER HOW UNCOMFORTABLE, NO MATTER HOW FRIGHTENING, ACCEPT THE POSSIBILITY.
IT MIGHT HAPPEN, IT MIGHT NOT.
IT MIGHT BE TRUE, IT MIGHT NOT BE TRUE.
This was an excerpt from The Acceptance Field Guide: Navigating anxiety and depression in an uncertain world, which explores how to practically apply the concepts of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to overcome anxiety and compulsive behaviors in your daily life.
The Acceptance Field Guide is available for $2.99 on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Acceptance-Field-Guide-Navigating-ebook/dp/B006W950CG/