I don’t believe anything can ever prepare you for watching as someone you love (least of all, your mom) battles for their life in an emergency situation. About three years ago, I had this experience when my mom (Lucy) ruptured two aneurysms in her brain. She had six in total, and her life hung by threads for three weeks in the intensive care unit. It was beyond terrifying, and with every breath I prayed for certainty…for proof that she would survive.
Some critical medical choices had to be made – fast. We were in constant communication with her medical team – a brilliant staff that worked in lockstep to make sure mom not only survived, but also walked out of there with barely a scratch on her.
One day, her surgeon informed us there was no possible way my mom could get out of the hospital bed for at least another week, lest she risk a massive and fatal stroke. I’ll never forget how he said it: with such confidence; his words were certain, his tone was unwavering and his body language was literally solid-footed and open. This man wasn’t hiding anything and I trusted him for that.
The next day, I walked into my mom’s critical care hospital room to find her sitting up in a chair next to her bed. She was doing the very thing her surgeon warned us could lead to a fatality.
I. Freaked. Out.
(Her surgeon’s warning from the day before raged like fire through my mind.)
“Who the hell got my mom of bed?” I shouted. Another doctor in charge of her care that morning quietly walked into the room and leaned against the nurse’s counter. “I did,” he casually replied. What he said next damn-near devastated me.
As this doctor explained to me (in a very slow and patient way) that certain risks had to be taken in order to mitigate recovery complications, he leaned casually against a counter in the room and finished his statement with, “…so, fingers crossed, we’ve made the right choice.”
Fingers crossed?! Fingers crossed, you #$*&@?! I was reeling with anger.
Ultimately, it turned out that the second doctor’s decision was a wise one. Still, I wish he had spoken to me that day with greater confidence. It would have offered me the confidence I needed in a very uncertain moment. Sometimes the most important and meaningful thing you can do for another person is to show them your confidence; show them that you believe in yourself and your ideas.
We all crave this certainty in our lives…and we often seek confirmation of it in the interactions we have with others. That means: every time you talk to someone, you have the opportunity to inspire confidence and build trust in your relationships.
Words and sayings like “fingers crossed” almost instantly destroy confidence in any conversation. Saying these forces your listener to juggle with your uncertainty…and that never feels good. Kick these five non-confident statements out of your vocabulary:
1. “I may not know much about this, but_______.”
2. “I’m not good at ________.”
3. “With any luck…”
4. “I’ll try, but...”
5. “This is your fault.” (Blame is everything BUT confident.)
Try these instead:
1. “Here’s what I know/ can do_________.”
2. “I’m awesome / really good / excellent at ____________.”
3. “I’m confident / have no doubts that ________ will work / get us there.”
4. “I’m going to give this all I’ve got.”
5. “Here’s where I see my role in this situation.” (Ownership is awesome and shows confidence and accountability. Expect some gratitude and maybe a few high fives in response to this statement!)
P.S. My mom walked out of the hospital three weeks afterwards with no lasting physical or neurological damage from her aneurysms. She recently celebrated another birthday and became a first-time grandmother. I love that feisty Puerto-Rican mama, and I am forever grateful to her medical team.