How Interesting! Gaining Distance from Difficult Thoughts and Emotions

I want to explain the “How interesting!” technique I referred to in yesterday’s post:

“Things I learned from my horse trainers #42: practice saying, ‘Hmmmm… how interesting.’ Say it when you’re frustrated. Say it when you’re mad. Most importantly, say it before you say or do anything else (including hit the “send” or “post” button). It should be the first thing out of your mouth when things go wrong–or don’t meet your expectations…” ~ Kathy Sierra

Lisa on Horse
Lisa on a big horse (1 year old)

This tiny bit of wisdom from the world of horse training can be applied to all sorts of challenging situations and can be used to avoid impulsive reactions that we later regret. Parents can use it when they open the bathroom door to see their toddler has stuffed half a roll of toilet paper down the toilet, or when teens do or say something that pushes our buttons. We can say it to ourselves when we feel the “itch” that we don’t want to scratch, such as polishing off the rest of the ice-cream, or reaching for the cigarette or other temptation we are trying to give up. We can keep it in mind when someone says something “mean” or unthinking that would usually send us directly into a spiral of negative thoughts.

“With horses, the main goal of the ‘how interesting’ technique is to keep you from losing patience and blaming the horse. If you say ‘how interesting,’ it helps you explore reasons, including what your own role in this might be. It makes problems feel more like puzzles.” ~ Kathy Sierra

The next time you feel self-doubt or panic or fear or any other difficult emotion regarding your writing, take a mental step back and say to yourself (or even aloud) “How interesting!” It really does work wonders to gain some perspective and to avoid losing patience with ourselves.

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