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Author Topic: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"  (Read 4274 times)

Offline BobHarding

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A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« on: October 22, 2016, 03:49:27 AM »
I read this article yesterday and it hit me pretty hard. How often in my life have I "Awfulized" a situation and how many times have I made decisions based on doing that?

What do you think about this Terrific true story with a great lesson we all can use? The author writes  an Internet Travel Blog and his name is Jonathon Look.

"By Jonathan Look on Oct 20, 2016 04:30 am

It is 9:20 PM and we are standing on the platform in the one track train station in Pyay, Myanmar. To get here Sarah and I have walked, with our luggage, almost an hour, down gravel roads, in the dark, because we were told that there ďshould beĒ a ten oíclock train that would get us out of town and on to our next destination, Bagan. A cold wind is blowing across the platform and we are shivering beneath our thin jackets. A mangy dog is rummaging through trash looking for discards. A couple of rough looking characters are sleeping on the benches just out of reach of the stationís fluorescent bulbs. Three wild looking teens, huddled under rough blankets, stare at us with dark eyes. There are some signs about, but they are all written in Burmese and, to us, only undecipherable squiggles and random numbers. Through the Plexiglas, we can see that the lights are off in the station masterís office and no one is inside. It doesnít look good. Not good at all.

We went to one of the nearby benches to sit and go over our options. We watched bats chase moths in the street lights. We could hear chanting and drumming from a nearby temple. Since it was a Buddhist holiday many stores were closed, the streets were empty and maybe the trains werenít even running. There were no cabs or tuk-tuks around for transportation back into town and it was getting colder and darker.

What would happen if we didnít find the station master? There are two stations, what if we were at the wrong one? What if we had the wrong time and the train had already passed? What if we tried to buy tickets on board, but couldnít, and they kicked us off in the middle of an off-limits area? What if the train arrived, but was full? What if the teens under the blankets wanted to rob us? What if we had to share a train car with the dodgy characters sleeping on the benches and caught something? What if the dog, or the bats, had rabies and attacked us? What if the chanting from the temple was really a cult with designs on enslaving confused tourists?

Okay, nothing was really that bad, but this is an example of a phenomena known as awfulizing. When the brain is challenged but doesnít have enough information, fear replaces the unknown with something awful. When our minds donít have enough information to fuel decision making, they use imagination to fill the void with worst case scenarios. When we should be taking action, the fear created by our awfulizing keeps us paralyzed and beats us into ineffective reacting or nonproductive inaction.

On a more macro scale, I see this all the time from people that say they would like to travel more, but they only have just enough information to keep them firmly anchored in place. ďI canít go to country ďAĒ because ten years ago the government was unstable and it might collapse again when I visit there. I canít go to country ďBĒ because I saw on the news that a virus that effects turkeys could possibly mutate and infect humans. I canít go to country ďCĒ because it is so far, airplane seats are uncomfortable and the food is not compatible with my allergies and other afflictions. I canít go to country ďDĒ because I donít speak the language and everyone hates us thereĒ It never ends.

And this isnít just about travel. Awfulizing impacts all areas of our lives. My significant other didnít call because they are spending time with someone else, (or, maybe they were just in an accident!) I canít go to the doctor to have that bump looked at because I canít afford expensive cancer treatments. I canít accept that better job in a new city because we would have to move and my children would become drug addicts.

It overwhelms our critical thinking, distorts reality, beats common sense into retreat and replaces it with a reactive deluge of upsetting emotions.

Awfulizing overwhelms our critical thinking and distorts reality. It beats common sense into retreat and replaces it with a reactive deluge of upsetting emotions. Awfulizing replaces ambiguity with our worst fears and, at its most extreme, can rob us of our dreams and ambitions.

So what did we do? Sarah watched our bags while I went and looked for the station manager. I found him coming out of the restroom and he asked me to follow him to his office. Turns out we were at the right station and there was a 10 oíclock train. I asked about our options and he said he wasnít sure, but he thought he would be able to get us a first class sleeper.

By the time I got back to the platform Sarah was talking with the scary teens who had been under the blankets. They were going to Bagan as part of a high school history program and they were enjoying practicing their English on Sarah. Soon, the dodgy looking guys that had been sleeping on the benches were awake. Turns out they were electricians who were going to Bagan for a week long job and had been dropped off way too early at the station by their friend who thought the train was at 8 PM, so they decided to get some sleep.

Long story short, we caught the train, got the first class sleeper and had a fun adventure riding on one of the most historical (and roughest) train lines we had ever been on. It worked out fine, but, even if it hadnít, Pyay is a perfectly lovely place and somehow we would have gotten back to town and had another great night there.

I shudder to think of the opportunities Sarah and I would miss if we didnít take responsibility for our fears and were constantly awfulizing ourselves into inaction."


Offline midaut

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2016, 09:37:51 AM »
Thanks for sharing.  Sometimes I'm an "awfulizer" but my wife neutralizes it with her positive thinking.

Offline Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2016, 09:57:10 AM »
"Awfulizing" as you describe it can happen to anyone. It comes about by not being familiar or prepared with one's surroundings no matter where one travels. Generally, "Awfulizng" can be minimized from doing your homework by planning your itinerary in order to avoid the pit falls of traveling anywhere. 
"Life is what we all make it to be"!
"It's always a matter of money"!
"Do on to others as they would do on to You, but do it first"!
"Different strokes for different folks"!
"Que Sera Sera"!

Offline BobHarding

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2016, 11:26:05 AM »
I agree and I also think it is not limited to Travel...it can take place with all sorts of decisions making processes.

Offline iamjames

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2016, 04:37:56 PM »
"Awfulizing" as you describe it can happen to anyone. It comes about by not being familiar or prepared with one's surroundings no matter where one travels. Generally, "Awfulizng" can be minimized from doing your homework by planning your itinerary in order to avoid the pit falls of traveling anywhere.

Exactly, Art. It is a word created here which includes a number of phenomena such as paranoia, bias, ignorance, carelessness.....   All avoidable as you suggest. 

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Offline sacalait

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2016, 01:45:07 AM »
Wow!!! What a great thing to read. Thanks to you for posting this. It helps set my mind at ease?

Awfulizing is not a good thing, but is something that our minds do to us. If not careful, one can become a prisoner to this?

Live life each day as if it is your last!! We never know? Thanks again!!! I am glad I read this.

Offline BobHarding

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2016, 09:52:46 AM »
Good luck on your upcoming move....An Adventure of a Lifetime and a Great Love Story!

Offline sacalait

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2016, 03:52:21 AM »
Thanks Bob,

I have been writing a book for several years now. I have been down more rocky roads than smooth. Especially the last 5 years or so. After getting settled in the North with Juliet, I will finish writing it. We met by chance on a safety forum. Both of us are safety professionals, and hit it off with the first email. I now have a name for the book; "Nice Photo". That was my response to the first picture I saw of her. So, now, after a little more time, I can finally finish the book?

Offline BobHarding

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2016, 11:13:50 AM »
Gosh, that is terrific.

I met Josie through a friend off hers I was exchanging emails with. This was back when Hotmail had a free dating site, way back when! Her friend had decided that she was not interested in me and has asked Josie if she would like to email me. The friend introduced us by email and the first email I I sent Josie what we call "The Big Email". It was my life story..every detail..the good, the bad and the ugly. It was severl pages long. I took a risk. I figured at some point she needed to know and it might just as well be now instead of months from now.....save us all a lot of time...so, I sent The Big Email. I didn't hear back from her for about 2 weeks and had almost given up. Then one early morning I got an email....from Josie...she explained that she had had a very busy 2 weeks at school and that it had been impossible for her to get to an Internet cafe...she told me about her 2 weeks and shared with me her story. At the very end she signed it, "Love Josie".  (That told me that I had been 100% unconditionally accepted by her). I booked a flight that day and went Manila to meet her. We never shred a photo and neither of us had any idea what the other one looked like.

At the time her friend who had introduced us was in fact dating a guy who was the airport manager for Philippines airlines. She arranged for him to meet me at the gate and he walked me through airport security and out to the baggage claim area. The rest is a whole other story that hasn't yet ended....

Offline sacalait

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2016, 09:36:03 PM »
Bob,

Thanks for sharing that story. Wow? I don't feel so alone in my story anymore. I have not done the Big Email yet, but after 3 meetings, I feel that Juliet and me know each other pretty well. I sent us a tent in one of my many boxes (14 to date), and we will go down by the river and camp out during cooler months. I think we will probably have some very deep talks about all the roads we have been down. I know she spent 20 years in Brunei, working to help support her family. There must be plenty to talk about I am sure. We both have told each other that the past is gone, and any of the bad and ugly should just be left alone. Unless one of us wants to share. Scott

Offline BobHarding

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Re: A Phenomena Known as "Awfulizing"
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2016, 10:17:14 PM »
Stay safe and be happy!