I chat about the book The Gift of Maybe by Allison Carmen. It’s all about this concept called “getting to maybe.” It means being open to different possibilities and embracing uncertainty. But let’s be real, fear and a need for control can seriously get in the way of this. If you can’t get to maybe, you can be neutral until you have more information.
The author offers some amazing tips on practicing mindfulness and changing negative thought patterns to help you feel more comfortable with uncertainty and embrace the power of “maybe.”
Can failure be a good thing? By reframing how we view failure, we can use it as a learning opportunity to help us grow and move forward. So, are you ready to get to maybe?
[Music] You ever wondered what happens if you can’t see a good possibility in something.
That’s what we’ll talk about today.
[Music] Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.
Today we’re going to continue our conversation, “The Gift of Maybe.
” Finding Hope and Possibility in Uncertain Times by Alison Karman.
And she says in a lot of ways, living a life where we expect the worst thing to happen gives us bad experiences, makes us feel anxious.
She even gave a quote from a Swedish proverb, “Worry often gives small things a large shadow.
” And I think that’s interesting.
You ever see that in a horror movie where suddenly this giant shadow monster is coming towards the people and it turns out it’s like a cat with a flashlight on the ground.
But that is really how worry takes over everything.
Everything looks bigger, everything looks scarier.
And she said that she calls it the negative twist, which she says is just another form of linear thinking.
Again, remember linear thinking is, this is right, this is wrong.
When you’re in a horror movie, there’s always two ways to go.
the way out of the house, which no one ever takes, or the way deeper in the scary house.
And then that’s when the big shadow monster gets us.
This negative twist, this something as bad as going to happen to us, this fear that this shadow of worry is making us miss out on the great experiences of life.
She suggests then, if you can’t get maybe, maybe maybe’s a little too hard for you right now, that little warm, positive feeling that maybe something good is gonna happen to it, she says, “Can we just go back into a place “where there’s, quote, no thought.
“You’re not gonna think anything good of it.
“You’re not gonna think any bad of it.
“You’re just gonna watch it unfold.
“You’re just gonna watch the whole situation “and see what happens.
“And then we’ll know, was it as bad as we thought “or as good as we thought.
“So instead of getting anxious about it, “we’re just gonna wait and see what the scary thing is and see what it is.
Just give it some thought and let it wait out.
And maybe that was the answer to what I needed to do when I was having surgery.
Maybe it’s too far to think when you’re having cancer surgery of all the bad things that are gonna happen.
Maybe the right answer in that situation would have been no thought.
You’re just gonna go in, you’re gonna do it, and whatever happens afterward, we’ll deal with it when we get there.
But I wasn’t helping my own health by being worried.
I wasn’t helping my friends’ concern for me be better by being frantic about it.
And instead, if I picked up this no thought method and just said, “Just see what happens, wait it out “and see where it goes.
” Then that could have been that neutral way of just not destroying myself and my friends and everyone around me, when we couldn’t possibly know at that moment what was going to happen.
And the thing of it is, is that it’s not like the worry prevented cancer.
And it wasn’t like the worry about cancer really helped me prepare that much.
I prepared for the surgery.
I was very well organized for that.
But you can’t prepare for cancer in that way.
And so it wasn’t where sometimes worry is good because it helps you prepare for the future better.
like that, you can’t prepare for the future.
There’s nothing you can do except to pray.
And so instead, have that neutral thought because in the end, you’re just giving yourself an ulcer and making your health worse because of this.
So she said that when we become aware of something that’s negative, that we’re feeling very scared about or really sad about, that we should ask ourselves, “What’s going on here.
” Become aware of what’s happening.
And then we can ask ourselves, “Do we think that this is the honest reality.
Do we think that nothing will get better, that there won’t be anything positive in the future for this.
Can we at least give the possibility that in the future it will be better.
” And so that will help us get out of that negative experience by at least acknowledging that even if the situation is bad or scary or causing us anxiety.
There is still that sliver that, of course, someday this is going to be better.
We’re gonna find a way around this.
If you were petrified of moving to a new town and you can’t get to that neutral spot, can you at least acknowledge that at some point you’re gonna feel okay in this new town.
I think that’s where she’s getting at.
She says, quote, “Regret is a reverse maybe.
It’s a trap that keeps us in pain.
” So let’s say that you end up having to move because your spouse has a job in a new town and you don’t wanna move.
It’s all bad, you’re all anxious about it, it’s all negative.
And now you move to the new town and now you’re just regretting it.
You’re angry about it.
And now you’re not only just telling a story about a possibility, a negative story about this possibility, a linear story about this possibility.
I was happy and now I move to this new town and I am unhappy.
but we’re not even giving it the possibility it’s going to get better.
By giving up that regret, we’re gonna give ourselves a chance to have peace in the future.
We’re going to allow ourselves to maybe find new friends or new situations.
But as long as we let that regret or the reverse of maybe take over our story, everything’s gonna be dim about it and it won’t let up.
“It will never give us this chance to find something better.
” So instead that she says that if you feel like you’re stuck in regret, if you feel like you’re so unhappy or so miserable about the situation you’re in, where you start digging yourself out of this is trying to think about the possibility that this will change and giving yourself that opportunity to get out into that change Find new things.
Find ways of being hopeful.
To find new friends.
To find a new activity you like in this town that maybe you couldn’t have done in this other town.
You know, when my mom moved to this town that we were in, this military base, she hated it.
She really just hated it.
And the problem that frustrated me the most is she just never gave it a chance.
She didn’t really look for new friends.
She didn’t look for new opportunities.
No, I hate this place.
Her negative thinking boxed her in and I think if this book was there at the time it could have said Can you find any possibility.
Could you just look for one thing that could make this situation better.
That would maybe Be a positive thing about living in this town She never got there.
She always hated it, but With that space again in our heart that will allow things and possibilities to be positive, even if we have a regret that we regret moving to a town or we regret taking a job or we regret treating our health in such a way that now we’re in a possibility, try to at least think about what possibilities could happen.
Maybe I can find friends or maybe I can get my health back together again.
Just give yourself a little bit of breathing room that there is some joy in the future for you Give it a shot because right now by being closed or being regretful There’s no opportunity at all for you to find happiness in this situation There’s no opportunity for you to be happy in this situation so Give it a shot to give yourself that chance to think about what could possibly be great about it Because what do you have to lose.
You’re already miserable.
You already are scared or sad or upset You know even with my mom we were Going to be on that base for four years because you can’t just move to a military base and say you know It turns out I super hate this.
Can we just go.
You know what military’s not going to let you go There was no opportunity to change it for at least I think four years She said that there’s a mantra that she likes to give to people quote, even though my life has changed My possibilities are still infinite Maybe I can still find a way There’s that maybe word and that possibility award She says if you can use the mantra write it down Keep it with you.
And every time you feel like you’re getting stuck in that situation Take it out Use it to try to give yourself just a little bit of breathing room so that maybe you can find good possibilities in your life and maybe It’s gonna be even better than it was before and She says a lot of the problems with the negativity in real life is that you know We have that little voice that keeps telling us.
Oh, you’re gonna fail.
Oh, you probably can’t do this What it happens if you embarrass yourself and that little voice, you know back in the cartoon days There would be an angel and a devil on your shoulder and this would be the devil telling you you’re not gonna make it Can we just give a little bit of doubt to our doubt.
maybe This negative voice is wrong Maybe we can do something.
Maybe we can find other friends.
Maybe we can find new activities Maybe we can regain our health and if we even question this devil on our shoulder.
Are you sure I’m going the wrong way Are you sure I’m never gonna have more friends.
Are you sure I’m never gonna be happy in this job You know, let’s say you decided to take a new job.
It turns out you hated it now you left your old job For this new job and you don’t like it.
You know what.
Your little devil voice could be telling you now you’re stuck now.
You’re never gonna get a new job job.
You know, it’s not true either.
We had a company move into the town I’m in and a lot of people saw this as a huge opportunity to get in on a ground level at a really good job.
And it turned out a lot of people did not like this other company.
And those who ended up leaving the company without burning bridges, some of them came back because they really didn’t turn out the way they thought it was.
But they weren’t stuck.
That little devil voice that says, now you’re stuck.
You took this other job and you’re here forever.
You’re never anywhere forever.
And so question the certainty of this little devil on your shoulder, telling you that you’re stuck now.
Are you certain that I’m stuck.
Are you certain that I won’t be able to fix my life.
You know what.
As much as we’re addicted to certainty, these negative voices are also addicted to certainty.
And as soon as you start breaking down their certainty, you will have room in your own heart for the maybe you will be able to to take on whatever obstacles come your way.
And even if you can’t resolve everything, even if you can’t fix anything, and even if you can’t challenge this negative certainty in your life with a little gift of maybe, could you just give it a moment, maybe with that mantra.
She says this about maybe, and gently asks us to investigate what’s possible going forward.
It allows us to take a peek at changing aspects of our lives without feeling overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done.
Maybe is a small step forward on a path we never believed was possible to follow.
Maybe, just maybe, after we take one step, we are able to take another small step after that.
This is what just got me about this book, that I just heard this podcast on a chance listening.
After talking to my friend Kim about whether or not we wanna step out on the edge and just do the thing, this book falls into my lap at the right time when I’m having my own maybe moment, and then it ends with “Small Steps.
” Wow, I think that this book was a gift to me and to end a “Small Steps” podcast with us thinking that can we just take one step and then after that take another small step.
Brings us back to that Cheryl Strayed moment where she said, “I kept walking “until I couldn’t walk anymore and then I ran.
That’s why I was really excited to do this podcast because this whole event for me has been a month in the making where I started out talking about just doing the thing and then got challenged with my own being stuck in addicted to certainty.
And then having this book come to me to tell me maybe, and if I can’t get to maybe, could I at least take a small step.
She says in the end that when we become people of maybe, you know what happens.
We actually get more certain.
We get more certain about who we are and what we’re capable of doing, and even the things we want to do in our lives.
As we start leaving a little place in our heart for maybe to happen, we start realizing what it is we want and what it is we’re capable of doing.
And in the end, if the thing we thought about reaching out and doing didn’t work out, maybe if the thing that I’m hoping for doesn’t turn out, I at least know now where I need to go next.
And that I think is the best gift of maybe that’s possible.
It reminds me of an old trick that people used to tell you that if you didn’t know what you wanted to do, flip a coin, heads, I move to this new house, tails, I don’t move to this new house and throw the coin way up in the air.
Now think which side are you hoping lands up.
There’s your maybe, there’s your possibility.
And I think that that is exactly what this book of maybe is doing.
Is it in the end, if that thing doesn’t turn out, we at least know now that we’re ready for new things and new possibilities in our life.
And I just thought, wow, This has just been an amazing moment for me with this book.
And I’m so glad I read it at this point because I think it made a huge difference in my life.
I hope it makes a huge difference in your life.
Be flexible, think about what could happen next, and get rid of that negative linear thinking that holds us back, the negative twist, the cat in the shadow that is stalking us, or that worry that is being lit up with a flashlight and looks 10 times bigger than it should be, and instead start thinking about the possibilities.
Our life is open to us and our possibilities are open to us.
So my challenge to you is think about one area of your life where you just can’t even get to maybe.
You don’t see the good happening at all.
See if you can use the mantra she gave And just get to the part where you can at least agree to give your uncertainty some uncertainty.
Give that negative voice in your head a little bit of doubt.
Then see if you can now see that negative thing in a new light and at least have a little bit of hope for whatever is going on in your life.
All right, everyone, thanks so much.
I appreciate you listening to the podcast.
Please remember that you can always email me at jill@smallstepspod.
I’m happy to hear from you.
I’d love to hear what your maybes are.
And if you have any questions, concerns, comments about the podcast, please contact me anytime.
Have a wonderful week.
Just remember that in the hardest times, if we can just give doubt to our doubts, we’ll be able to keep going with our small steps.
(upbeat music) you.