Today, in my allotted few minutes of brainlessness when I play online scrabble against the “robots” I realized that when I won the game I found myself smugly amused as if I had defeated some a real opponent. In reality, my scrabble foe does not exist, there is no person on the other side of the program who is “out to get me”, it simply a computer program designed to simulate an opponent. However; this led me to contemplate the idea of imaginary foes.
I imagined how many people, me included, have perceived people around us including family, friends and co-workers as someone who is “out to get us” for some unknown reason. This, if left unchecked, gives rise to a conspiracy against us with the goal of dashing our hopes and dreams.
Example: Sally shared with friends at a casual dinner that her CEO had put in charge of a large project at work. It was one of those “this is the biggest project you’ve ever been handed and I want it done yesterday” type of initiative. She expressed her frustration with the project, managing the personality filled team and creating the best format in which to present the information to her senior management team. As she completed her story, a friend asked her a very peculiar question… “Do you think your CEO is setting you up to fail?”
With that question a conspiracy theory was hatched. It was shocking how quickly this group of smart, capable women jumped to the conclusion that her boss was plotting against her. The group speculated on his “true” intention in giving her the project. It didn’t occur to them that the CEO knew she had the skills and talent to do the project, which she did, and would most likely exceed his expectations. No! It had to be an evil plot to destroy her reputation so he could get rid of her. With one simple question Sally was at war with an imaginary foe, her CEO.
Points to Ponder:
- Do you often create a story about the intentions of others instead of asking clarifying questions?
- Do you think others are upset with you but you don’t know why?
By simply asking clarifying questions of our perceived foes, we would likely learn about a personal struggle they were having in which we played no part and what they need is a real friend instead of an imaginary foe.
The reality, at least for the majority of us, is that no one is out to get us. The only “foe” we have is the one we’ve created in our mind. If we put our energy into encouraging and empowering ourselves and reaching out to our “foes” to see if they need a listening ear instead of creating and perpetuating false conspiracies, we might be amazed at how we find ourselves with more friends than foes.
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