The Practice of Leaving The Door Open

When we find ourselves under stress, we often close the door to solutions. We’ve got to find a way to leave it open.

Image of an open door to the outside for article by Larry G. Maguire

When we find ourselves under stress, we often close the door to solutions. We’ve got to find a way to leave it open.

It’s difficult.

When we face unfamiliar challenges such as job loss, fluctuating income, lack of certainty etc., there is the almost unavoidable emotional state of anxiety that comes with it.

It seems relentless and weighty, like we’re stuck in a room with no air and very little light. Everything seems foggy and obscure. Clarity is so far away it’s like we’ll never find the way out.

I’ve been in this place and I know, viscerally, how it feels.

Now, despite what many so-called experts might have said, or books you’ve read may have stated, there is no way out of this — or rather there is at least, no conscious way out.

What I mean is, (cheesy analogy coming up) when we find ourselves in a storm it’s already too late to do anything about it. Often the only option is to strap yourself to the mast and wait for a break in the weather.

It’s about accepting conditions as they are and being open to the answer whatever that might be.

When we become uptight psychologically, we enter a heightened state our decision making and performance can suffer dramatically. We become completely immersed in the problem and blinkered to answers of any kind.

The amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for instigation of the fight-or-flight response, is switched on. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function and decision making, is switched off.

When we’re in the thick of it, in shit up to our armpits, it’s already too late. In this state, we literally cannot make a decision to save our lives.

So try this instead.

Don’t wait until the shit lands, do some prep work. Take plenty of time for yourself and in everything you do, and every problem you encounter, adopt the attitude;

The answer is out there and I’m going to find it.

This does not mean we take a forceful, determined, and hyper-positive approach to problems. Rather, it suggests that we quietly accept conditions as they are, and equally, accept that solutions will come if we expect them.

We leave the door open.