When it feels like you’re stuck between a lion and a lion tamer
I got put in a difficult situation between a co-worker and my boss at work recently.
Needing to talk about it, I called a friend. “Sounds like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place,” she said.
“It actually feels more like a lion and a lion tamer,” I replied.
“Tell me more,” she said.
“Well, a rock and a hard place feels like it describes a situation where I’m stuck between two equally tough choices. Neither is really better.
But, here, the choice feels clear. I know 1000% whose side I’m on. My co-worker is right here. And she’s more vulnerable, like the lion tamer. Versus our boss who, like the lion, holds a position of power and could take us both down. I need to protect the more vulnerable person. I need to calm the lion – without getting eaten.“
See, it wasn’t the situation that confounded me. It was how to put my choice into action from a place of leadership and love, to do the least amount of harm and, if all went well, to actually help resolve the tension while letting everyone feel heard and respected so we could grow stronger as a team.
Situations like this come up much more often in my life than the rock and hard place scenario.
Like, almost every day, when my boys start yelling at each other and want me to pick a side.
It is not a comfortable situation to be in. And, our instinct can be to run away as often as possible.
But, what I’m truly beginning to trust is that these scenarios keep coming up in our lives precisely so we can learn how to handle them.
It wasn’t the scenario that was making me feel uncomfortable. It was that I didn’t trust myself to handle the situation that was causing the discomfort.
I was worried that my boss would be mad at me. That her anger would lead to an uncomfortable work environment or, even, my firing.
And that’s the energy – fear, urgency, anxiety – that I was sitting in while trying to figure out my course of action.
Once I understood that, I was able to take a few deep breaths, to imagine a peaceful resolution in which everyone walked away feeling safe and heard.
And, from that place, the words came so much more smoothly. It wasn’t lion versus lion-tamer. It was all of together working towards a common goal. A goal that would not only benefit each of us but that would ripple down to benefit the kids in our care.
Does this story resonate with you?
What will it take for you to trust yourself to handle a difficult situation?
How can you step into your higher self and hold space for both sides so that everyone feels safe and heard? Including yourself.
It’s not easy. I’m still learning for sure. But I believe in myself.
And, as with everything, practice makes perfect.