Not looking forward to hanging out with your relatives over the holidays?
About to go to a party that you REALLY don’t want to attend?
Try Awkward Situation Bingo.
You can play Awkward Situation Bingo prior to any event that you aren’t feeling great about. It works for:
- holiday meals where people’s jokes cut a little too close to home
- meetings for work where personalities tend to collide
- lunches with coworkers who never seem to ask how YOU’RE doing, just talk about their own lives
- parties you know your ex will attend (with his new girlfriend)
Have a situation in mind?
Great! Let’s play.
- First, what is it that you’re so worried about? Make a list of exactly what might happen that will bother you. (e.g. Your mom is going to remind you — again — how little she cares for your boyfriend, or your aunt is going to brag endlessly about your high-achieving cousin without asking you a single question about yourself.)
- Picture how you will feel if/when each thing happens. If it happens, what are you going to do? Sometimes, if you picture what will happen and how you want to react if it does, it’s not as bad if it actually occurs.
- Decide what “getting bingo” means. How many things on the list have to happen for you to get bingo? You can make a real bingo card with your answers, or you can just play using the list.
- If you get bingo, what will your reward be? (The new album you’ve been eyeing on iTunes? Your favorite kind of chocolate? New nail polish?)
- Picture how you want the event to go. Regardless of what happens, how do you want to feel while you’re there? What kind of attitude would you need to have to feel that way?
- After the event, check your list. Did you get bingo? Was it as bad as you thought it would be? (For added fun, you can let a partner, friend or coworker in on what you’re doing. Then, when your mom throws the mashed potatoes on the ground, you two can just look at each other knowingly and mentally make a check mark on your bingo card.)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this tool. Frequently, the bad things I was worried about don’t even happen. Or they happen in some much lesser way — it never seems to be as bad as I imagined. Noticing this helps me adjust my expectations for future situations.
If you play Awkward Situation Bingo this holiday season, let me know how it goes.
P.S. Original image used and and modified under the Creative Commons license.
P.P.S. I adapted Awkward Situation Bingo from Dysfunctional Family Bingo, an exercise by Martha Beck.