Early on in our first year of marriage, my husband, Joel, and I had a conversation that will forever be remembered as the “banana talk.”
As we were cleaning out the fridge, I had asked him to peel the bunch of bananas that had gotten a little too ripe for my taste so we could freeze them for our morning fruit smoothies.
Minutes later, I turned around to see Joel putting whole bananas into a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag.
“What are you doing?” I asked baffled. He returned my gaze, equally as confused.
So I began to explain how you’re supposed to break them into three parts before you freeze them. I assumed this was obvious to anyone who has the custom of freezing bananas, right?!
Joel smiled and then, in a gentle tone, simply asked: “Why?”
Now, this was a moment of truth for me: Why did I choose to do it in this particular way?
My logical side could recognize that surely there were other possible ways to achieve the same result of a frozen banana. But my stubbornness mixed with the default habits engrained after more than a decade of fruit-freezing talent had somehow gotten the better of me.
You would have thought I had gotten my Master’s Degree in Fruitology instead of Education with the level of authority I shared the next statement: “Well, because it’s easier to use a chunk of banana in a smoothie than a whole one…sometimes you only need one part!” I had obviously proved my point!
But Joel’s facial expression said it all.
Really, Leslie?! Come on…
A large grin broke out across my face, acknowledging the pride and narrowness in my perspective. And in an effort of diplomacy, Joel suggested “How about two pieces instead? Meet me in the middle?” I began laughing along with Joel and conceded that I was not the definitive expert on banana freezing.
This is a silly situation in the grand scheme of marriage and life, our “banana talk” shed light on a critical issue that we all face daily: When do our preferences and assumed ways of doing things blind us to other possibilities and perspectives?
Choosing to Put the Cherry on Top!
In reality, a whole frozen banana is just as effective as three chunks of the same whole.
It’s just different. Not bad, not wrong, simply different.
We often allow our differences to get in the way of expanding our ways of doing things and seeing the world. All of us can build narrow boxes around what is “normal” and “acceptable” in our lives, and then we live in them… alone. Trapped by our personal preferences, we turn them into needs and insist on being right. How sad.
Joel challenged me to grow outside my preferences and assumptions with a simple piece of fruit.
How will you step aside so you can stop tripping yourself up with your preferences when they aren’t truly legitimate needs?
I’d recommend taking that banana and making a sundae instead!
Here are a few ways to get through even the craziest of situations and put the cherry on top:
Examine Your Assumptions: As humans, we often get so used to doing something one way or viewing a scenario based on the limited information we have. In my case with the bananas, I was stuck in a habit that I developed because it worked for me. I never stopped to question it. Simply acknowledging that there are multiple “right ways” opens us up to new possibilities and options that we couldn’t see before (TIP: It also makes for happier marriages and friendships!).
Identify Your Triggers: In addition to the habits we cultivate, we also have certain triggers that set us off. Maybe it’s being told what to do or when things moving too slowly when we’re ready to charge ahead. Consider what lies at the tipping point of your meltdown (because, after all, no one like a soggy sundae). Become mindful of these moments so they don’t sabotage your reactions.
Choose Another Perspective: Being STUCK stinks (especially when it’s self-created). So one of the core skills I use in my coaching practice to help clients get UNSTUCK is inviting them to choose a new perspective. Instead of insisting on being right, stop and consider if there is another way to look at the situation you’re facing. Opening yourself up to new possibilities often can surprise you (ahhhhh, there’s that cherry!).
Choosing to shift our perspective creates the space we need to get out of our own way.
After all, the journey is a lot more enjoyable when you consider all the possible paths you can take to get there, rather than sitting in your self-created mental traffic jam.
So next time you feel stuck or frustrated by something or someone who isn’t doing it “right,” begin by asking yourself:
- Have I assumed a habit or learned that is holding me back here?
- What perspective is the other person coming from and where is there truth here?
- Is there another way I could look at this situation?
- What is really bothering me now?
The answers might convince you to go to a place you’ve never considered, give someone else the benefit of the doubt, or even freeze whole bananas. It’s worth the time to try.