Do you live in the 90 or the 10?

No, I’m not talking about the decade of the 90s. I’m talking about that habit we have of living as if the 10% of life that irritates us is really 100% of our life. This week I was doing a live counseling demonstration with another teacher in front of Biblical students. She was struggling with some negative comments made by others. Even though she is confident in her opinion about what is right, a few negative comments about her position have thrown her for a loop.

Haven’t we all been there? I can get 24 fabulous reviews of my class and only one negative. But what do I think about for the next two days? I can get two great reviews of a submitted article but if I also get one pan, I find myself fantasizing the discussion with that reviewer where I dismember their argument, limb from limb. Or, even more insidious, we can get wind of the fact that someone MIGHT be upset with us or unhappy with something we have done. We don’t know for sure, but it might be true. So, do we assume the best or live in the worst?

So, in the counseling demonstration, I asked how confident she was with her opinion. She said 90%. In elections, that’s a landslide victory. In sports, your team creams the other team. But in life, we tend to live in the 10%. What if I’m wrong…what if I screwed up…what if they are mad at me…what if I’m not a good teacher…what if… We don’t do well with the unknown parts of life. We demand 100% approval and security.

So, do you tend to live in the 90% or the 10%? Neurotic folks like myself tend to replay the 10% until it might has well be 100%. In talking to my wife about this, she admitted this was why she stopped being a counselor. She didn’t like the chance that she might be screwing people up. Interestingly, egocentric folks who can’t admit ever being wrong often are but live in the 10% of the time when they were right. And fatalists assume they will screw up but just keep going and compartmentalize the 10% as something that they can’t change.

Where do you live? How do you respond? Are you a neurotic, narcissist, or fatalist?


Filed under Anxiety

3 responses to “Do you live in the 90 or the 10?

  1. Don

    Hey Phil, My name is Don. I am a neurotic. LOL! Seriously, why is it we (I) focus on the one thing that is or may be wrong rather than focusing on all that is good and beautiful? For me, it seems to be only certain people or relationships. I’d like to think I focused that sort of energy on the things that matter most, like the opinion of my wife or kids, but here lately, it seems it’s on people I disagree with spiritually, philosophically, and probably even emotionally.
    Thanks for your posts, I enjoy reading them. Say Hi to Mom, Dad & John if you see them over the holiday! Love ya bro!

  2. Hey Don, happy thanksgiving to you too. Yeah, certain settings and folks tend to get us going in the wrong direction. Those closest to us that matter most may not. Funny how that is.

    Enjoy your time with your family this week.


  3. Hey Phil

    I’m a perfectionist so the 10% is very important to me. Things that others seem to / are able to ignore or gloss over are nagging doubts that get a disproportionate amount of my attention.

    How do I deal with this? By not worrying about how much I worry and just getting on with it. I can’t control how much I worry, but I can control how much it affects my life.

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