Thursday, 22 October 2009

Dropping the Story

I don't like making phone calls. I especially don't like making phone calls to people I don't know. My family can verify this - I get nervous about calling for take-out pizza. And back when I was in Grade 7, and I needed a mouth piece for my french horn, my little brother made the call to the music shop - I was too afraid. In tears even.

So, when I decided a few weeks ago to put my name down on a list of people willing to make calls to other union members about their opinions about our Local's candidate for president of the union, I don't know what I was thinking. Well, I do know actually: the candidate has really gone to the mat for us over the past two years, and I wanted to help out because I think he would be a good union president. So I put my name on the list.

I had put the whole thing out of my mind until a few weeks later when I got the delegate list in the mail. Once the reality of having to make those calls dawned on me, I began berating myself for being so dumb, and signing up for something I so dislike doing. I worked myself up all into a lather about how this was going to ruin my evenings, and I was busy and tired enough, dang it all, etc., etc.

But then, somehow, another thought managed to sneak into my brain. I remembered something I had read about suffering, and how we create it: by wanting things to be other than how they are, and by projecting stories into the future about how things are going to go, when they haven't even happened yet. I decided I could try Pema Chodron's advice to just "drop the story" I was telling myself about how this thing was going to go.

And so, after reviewing our candidate's platform and familiarizing myself with the purpose of the calls, I dialed the first name on my list. And I spoke to the nicest lady, who had heard about our candidate and who eagerly told me that she was going to vote for him, without me even asking! Then I dialed the next name, and the same thing happened! This wasn't how I had imagined it at all! And it wasn't taking very much time either. People were happy to express their view, but they had other things to do too, so our conversations were just a few minutes long. Over the span of four sessions of calling, the whole thing probably took less than an hour. And instead of being resentful, I ended up being grateful that I was able to connect with other people, people who are eager for change, like me.


Christian said...

Good for you, Theresa. I sometimes go through the same preview in my mind. Almost expecting the worst. And usually it ends up being the opposite.

I'm glad you had a positive experience, however, the first call could have gone the other way. The important thing to remember is, don't get discouraged!

Amy said...

Way to go! I also have a similar phobia of making cold calls, although it has gotten a little better from various jobs that require that sort of thing.

Theresa said...

Hi Amy - thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment :) My job requires some telephone calls too, although I know virtually all the people I have to call there these days, which keeps my phobia minimized. My husband isn't a fan of making these calls either, so you can imagine that we don't get take out pizza or chinese food very often!

Theresa said...

Christian - thanks also to you for coming by and commenting! You make a very good point. Even if the first call had gone poorly, by 'dropping the story' I still saved myself from all the pre-worry/suffering and just dealt with the situation as it happened. It's win-win really, which is pretty cool. Now if I can just remember for next time!

Amber said...

I love the idea of dropping the story.

As a young woman in my 20's I suffered from panic attacks and anxiety disorder. Much of it was brought on by anticipatory anxiety and 'what if-ing' myself into panic.

Even now I can get worked up by being afraid of what might happen.

Dropping the story and getting grounded in the moment sounds like such a great way to move through and beyond that fear.

Thank you!