Did you ever get separated from your mom or dad in the grocery store growing up? It can be a terrifying experience. You are so small in a sea of tall aisles and shopping adults. Plus, how do you find them again?
When Alan and I were kids, I can remember this happening quite a few times. Maybe because we are twins, we were more likely to wander off together, or perhaps our mom sent us on missions to retrieve certain items. Either way, I remember having that helpless feeling of being out in the grocery store, unsure of which way to go to find her.
Mom Radar and the Stories We Tell Ourselves
The fear never lasted long. As soon as that feeling of slight panic set in, I would turn on my “mom radar.” You know, the imaginary built-in instrument that can hone in on mom’s location and get you back to the cart in less time than just wandering around.
I can’t remember if we ever made any pretend noises like a submarine in the depths of the Pacific, but I hope we did – I can picture passing a little kid walking by beeping as he went and how amusing that would be.
The return trip to our mom always went faster once we turned on our “mom radar.” It felt like we had a plan and something to focus on while we were looking.
The funny thing is, I recall how much more confident I felt once I started to use this story to calm down and focus on finding her. But, it wasn’t real – there is no such thing as “mom radar.”
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The stories we tell ourselves can be powerful, even if they aren’t true. I want to be clear; this is different than lying yourself – I am not talking about a delusion. But I think we can learn something from “mom radar.”
How “mom radar” helped.
The crazy part is, “Mom radar” actually did help us find our mom. But not because of a literal signal that we could use to ping her location.
Here is how it helped:
- Instead of freezing in place, we started moving.
- Instead of wandering, we followed a pattern.
- Instead of focusing on fear, we focused on the finding.
I wonder if there are any places in your work or personal life that you can use something like “mom radar” to push yourself forward when you don’t know what the next step is.
We spend a lot of time marketing ideas to others, but what if we need to market to ourselves too. Not a lie, but a story that helps us focus, remain calm, and move forward.