This game is directly from the The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte.*
“I’ve given this proposal to my boss a half-hour late. He was expecting it. I knew when the deadline was. I just wasn’t finished. And now he’ll be freaked out – he’ll yell at me – he might even fire me. I might have no money to live on. I’ll have to go ask friends for handouts. I’ll have to give up renting my apartment.” This type of downhill spiral thinking is a prime example of a situation in which this exercise can be used.
* When a situation appears overwhelming.
* When you get into a 3am discussion with yourself ruminating and catastrophizing about things that can go wrong.
* When you may be blowing up a very nasty concrete situation into a prolonged many-year huge-consequences event.
Goal of the Game:
To “take the edge off” (as Karen Reivich says in trainging teachers in resilience techniques). To nip anxiety before it grows into self-created stress. To be able to function in a situation even when it seems overwhelming.
How Long to Play: 20 minutes.
Players: Alone, with one person, or with many.
Materials Needed: Paper and pen. Or a new Word document.
HOW TO PLAY:
Worst Thoughts – Best Thoughts – Most Likely – Preparing for Most Likely.
1) Write down your worst thoughts.
* Write down the triggering situation (e.g. I handed in the proposal a half-hour late), and all the resulting possible worst-case situations.
2) Estimate the probabilities of your worst case scenario.(optional: Karen and Andrew are very big on this step, but I don’t think this step is as important, so I call it optional).
* Getting fired 1%
* Having no money at all .001%
3) Write down your best-case scenarios.
* In the above example, “I handed in the resport late, but the boss’s boss was there, and he saw it at the time it came in, and he thought it was wonderful and offered me a promotion, now I make 26x more than I ever did, and I live in a $5 million home, and I go to the race track on the weekends.”
4) Write down the most likely implications.
Forget the worst, forget the best. Now, write down what are really the most likely implications. Will the boss get angry? Yes, likely. Will he fire you? No, not likely.
5) How can you handle these most likely implications?
Write down some steps so that you can handle the most likley implications. If you expect your boss to be angry, maybe send him an apology by email in advance. If you expect that the proposal may not get out on time to FedEx, offer to drive it to the last-closing FedEx in your state. Think of rational, actual steps you can take.
After you take the above steps, what often happens is that you … feel better.
What the above game does more than anything else is it can take the edge off a situation. It can make a situation more manageable. And in that time, you can take action, and more your life forward in other ways! Enjoy.
The full version of the “Putting It in Perspective” exercise can be found on pages 168-185 of The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles.