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Get off the bandwagon!

You’ve heard the saying “jumping on the bandwagon” haven’t you?

 

It is usually used to describe people joining in with something just because it is popular.  It could be a hobby or craze, a fashion, a political party or social commentary.  Whatever it is, it gains momentum and energy by virtue of the number of people who jump on it.

 

Have you ever noticed that this happens inside your own head too?

 

I hadn’t until a few weeks ago when I realised how I had jumped on the bandwagon of my own thinking and created a very engaging (but unhelpful and potentially harmful) story about myself based on one situation that found myself in.

 

It came about during a trip to the USA where I was attending a personal and business development programme.  Over the space of 5 days I encountered various situations in which I found myself getting irritated by others;  people invading my personal space at the airport and on the plane, waiting staff taking too long to bring me my bill, people asking too many questions in the training room and “taking up too much airtime” and people who seemed to be happy and joyful ALL of the time!

 

I realised I was getting irritated and asked myself why.  The bandwagon of thinking that emerged ran along the lines……

 

”That wasn’t very kind, I am a judgemental person, I put myself first and don’t think about the impact on the other person, person X wouldn’t do that because they are much more compassionate than me, I was really selfish in how I dealt with that, I really am an egotistical person”.

 

Sitting here now I KNOW that is not true about me.  None of it is true but it showed me how easy it is to allow one situation and one thought to expand and grow into wildly exaggerated version of what is really going on.

 

It is an example of confirmation bias.  It happens when we make up our mind about something and unconsciously filter all other information to back it up.  We basically look for all the “evidence” which confirms we are right in our thinking and don’t see all the evidence to the contrary.  As a result we form a skewed view of the situation.

 

Can you relate to that?

 

In reality, all that had happened was I became irritated at having to wait for the waitress to bring me my bill one lunchtime and was less polite to her than I would usually be when she finally did.  Instead of accepting that situation and my feeling of irritation as a one-off event, I jumped on a bandwagon of thinking and before I knew it I had come up with dozens of examples of me as a selfish, uncaring, judgemental person!

 

It took a conversation with my coach for me to recognise this and to be able to step back and see that there was a very different way to view the situation.  One thought does not need to lead to the next.  It’s possible to get off the bandwagon and let go of the unhelpful stories we create about ourselves.

 

  • Where in your life can you relate to this?
  • Where are you exaggerating a situation by jumping on a bandwagon of thinking?
  • What if you were able to see each thought, each situation as stand alone?

 

Leave a comment below with one or two words about the bandwagon you have found yourself getting on.

 

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