The Reason You Can Handle Anything

The mind is capable of playing some pretty nasty tricks on us, yes? It can make us believe anything in the moment.

Don’t believe me? Just think of a time in the  past when you’ve completely believed something in the moment…something that wasn’t real. Perhaps it happened on a day like Halloween.

phil scared

Here’s another example.

A few weeks ago I was one of several presenters at a meeting filled with influential people.

I was already nervous as the event began, but then…as I watched the incredibly polished guy who spoke right before me deliver his incredibly polished speech…my heart plummeted and my mind got to work:

There’s NO WAY I can match him…these people are going to think that I don’t belong up here…

…and I probably don’t!

After not-very-patiently waiting for my turn I delivered my portion without incident and exited stage left. Quickly.

And who was standing right there? Yep, incredibly polished guy.

“Wow, that was really great.” he said, “you totally had their attention…and that’s not easy with this group.” Then he leaned in. “To be honest, they made me pretty nervous.”

Here’s the deal.

We have hundreds, if not thousands of emotions each day…happiness and stress and love and anger. Every. Day.

The funny thing is that we tend to think we, alone, are the only ones feeling them…especially the ones that leave us feeling vulnerable, nervous and insecure.

It’s as though, because we can’t see the emotions of others, we think they don’t exist. Like everything is so perfect for them. All the friggin’ time.


But they’re not. (I’m talking to you Bradley Cooper)

It’s a big world. And – I believe I can promise this with absolute certainty – whatever you are feeling at any given moment there is someone else…somewhere else…having that same emotion. In fact, lots of people are.

So why don’t we believe it? I’ve got one powerful reason for you, and it reflects one of my favorite sayings:

We compare our insides with other people’s outsides.

We contrast our feelings with other people’s portrayal of their feelings. We’ll sit there feeling stressed and doubtful while their outsides show perfect calm.

And we believe it’s all real.  We think these people are so together when they’re not…that they have no fear of looking stupid when they do…that they have confidence every minute of every day when they don’t.

I’ve talked about this in the past, specifically around fear. But it’s actually true about any negative emotion.  We compare ourselves and we lose every time:

  • We’re nervous as we go into our boss’ office for our big review, and think everybody else does it with supreme confidence. And we feel weak by comparison.
  • We want to try out a complicated new machine at the gym and we think everyone else can figure it out without a problem. And we feel like losers by comparison.
  • We can’t identify the odd rash on our baby’s arm and we think everyone else would be able to handle it perfectly and immediately. And we feel like a failure by comparison.

The truth? Someone else is feeling every emotion you’re feeling at any given time.

Which means when you’re quietly kicking yourself in an afternoon meeting because that huge lunch you threw down is making you feel disgusting – someone else is feeling the same thing. Perhaps the woman sitting right across from you.

I say this not to devalue your feelings or what you’re going through. I say this because, in addition to the negative emotions we feel at any given moment, the additional loser-like feelings we get by comparing ourselves to others makes is all worse. It impacts our ability to find solutions. To move on to happier feelings.

It also makes us feel very, very alone.

But we’re not.

The truth is we can handle anything because everyone else is right there with us, handling it too – or has handled it in the past. And if they can do it, so can we.

So relax. No matter what you’re feeling, you’re not the only one feeling it.

Believe it…and remember that someone else’s outsides don’t tell the whole story.

And know that whatever negative thing your feeling will pass. And then you can go back to happier ones.

This week…

Stop comparing your insides with other people’s outsides. Know that no matter how you’re feeling, someone else is feeling that way, too.

Then use this fact to breathe a sigh of relief…to get validated, learn from others, and find that solution…

…knowing you can handle anything.

Now, go do good…and do it well.


12 responses to “The Reason You Can Handle Anything”

  1. Larry Pauly Avatar

    Perfect timing! I hardly know how to thank you for this message TODAY. NOW. Just five minutes ago I was discussing some of these very feelings we both encounter with another staff member and we both understood this message PERFECTLY.

    You helped me today,

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      That is so great to hear, Larry…and kudos to you for recognizing how our pesky mind works before you even read the post! 🙂

  2. Gail Bush Avatar
    Gail Bush

    Deirdre. Thank you for this valuable reminder, it’s something I struggle with all the time.

  3. Leanne Abraham Avatar

    Great insight! Thank you.
    Take it the next step for even more awareness to positively impact your communication with others. Since others then are probably looking at me thinking I have it all together (no evident emotions going on) then I shouldn’t be surprised when they respond to me without much regard to how I am feeling. They cannot see how I am feeling or what I am spinning in my head either!
    Okay so what does mean for me – IF I want people to understand me and what I am experiencing and if I want a degree of empathy/ recognition / respect expressed from them then I need to tell them!
    It is all so simple – thank you for the reminder of the tricks we play in our heads.

    Cheers, Leanne

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      I love this idea of taking the next step – now that we’re feeling better, why not let everyone else in on the secret? Thanks Leanne!

  4. Lauren Avatar

    Great post, thanks! I once heard someone talk about Facebook that way – a place where we compare our lowest moments to our friends’ highlight reels.

  5. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
    Deirdre Maloney

    And thanks Gail and Lauren – glad these resonated, and ain’t that true about Facebook?! There’s a whole lot of fiction there (yes, I do it too 🙁 )

  6. Ken T Avatar
    Ken T

    Very well said Deirdre,I’ve never heard it stated in that way, comparing my insides with other peoples outsides. I’ll keep that in mind!

  7. Patty Avatar

    Thank you Deirdre for this timely message. I happen to be going through one of those times and bouncing off my thoughts and emotions with someone close to me helped me to see more clearly, not feel alone and inadequate. So for today my inside match my outside much better!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Thanks for your comment, Patty…funny how so many of us deal with this regularly (and goes to show we really all do feel the same thing eventually!) Sounds like you’ve done a great job with a tricky situation…congrats!

  8. Karen Avatar

    Thanks so much for you great insight.
    I just read your article today after feeling like “Daniel In The Lions Den”., yesterday. The meeting I attended was full of those that greatly out ranked me.
    Looking around the room at all those name tags with so many degrees after their names, I knew I wasn’t in their league.Well I said my little report and disappeared back into my chair. Glad that was over. Next time I’m called back to “The Den”, I will remember what you have said.

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Good for you, Karen…and I’ve been around lots of those nametags as well and PROMISE some of them were feeling like they didn’t belong, afraid of sounding silly or just uncertain in some way. Human nature, yes?