I almost always advocate that you take action in a troublesome situation. But there are times when it is advantageous to put on your blinders. Grace reminded me of that advice the other night, along with offering clues to the appropriate time to take cover.
This past week in New Hampshire, we’ve had some thunderstorms rumble through. On Wednesday night, just after we went to bed, the skies lit up with lightning as if it were fireworks from the 4th of July. Grace sleeps in a crate with the door open so she can come and go but the enclosure gives her some comfort even on normal nights. This particular evening, with the lightning fast and furious, she started to pace. There wasn’t much thunder but the continuous flashes of light were frightening. I invited her to jump in bed but she continued to pace. She knew that even in our bed she could see the same thing so that wasn’t really a better option in her mind.
I got up and went into my sewing room, fetched a large piece of fabric that I could drape over the top of her crate. Right away, she went back in, curled up, and settled in her blankets. Even though the cotton cloth had not fully eliminated the disturbance, it was enough so she could calm herself down. I’m sure she wasn’t completely at ease, but this artificial barrier had provided a cocoon of safety.
Blinders can help you get through an anxious moment
There are times in our workplaces that we can do the same thing: put blinders on to help us get through an anxious moment. Here are my guidelines for appropriate times to do so. Every situation is different so it’s hard to offer absolute parameters, but these are times that I see your best bet to hunker down under the radar:
- When you have no control over the situation
- When the conflict doesn’t have high stakes
- When the anxious moment is short-term
- When you are so overwhelmed that good decision-making isn’t likely
- When you need more time to think clearly
Blinders should be a temporary action
Putting on blinders should be a temporary action with the goal of getting you through a tough moment. But we should not default to this state for long. Delaying or avoiding needed action is only going to make matters worse for intense or important situations.
The next time a quick storm passes through your office, pretend you have a soft blanket hovering over your head. Allow this cocoon to give you space and time so the issues don’t feel so intense. Then after the heat of the moment, you’ll have a clear head and you can take the action you need.