The Situation is the Boss

Hey there it’s Susan Peirce Thompson and
welcome to the weekly vlog. There is a saying that up until I don’t know less
than a month ago I had literally never heard in my whole life and ever since I
heard i, I’ve been thinking about it all the time. It strikes me as such a helpful
and profound way to conceptualize certain situations that relate to the
Bright Line Eating journey and so I want to tell you about this thing and it’ll
be best if I tell you a story about how I heard it. So last month at the Thompson
House there was a lot going on. It was the week that the Reboot Rezoom Video
Masterclass series was slated to be released and there were certain segments
of it that I wanted to re-record. Not a whole bunch, it was mostly done, but but I
definitely wanted to reshoot a couple things and suddenly the opportunity to
participate in the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the American
Board of Lifestyle Medicine fundraising thing to get the tide turning, to get
doctors taught nutrition in medical schools. I don’t know if you saw that
vlog: Let’s Make History Together but that opportunity fell in my lap like all
at once and oh by the way meanwhile I slipped and I thought I broke my ankle but
I didn’t. I sprained it badly and I was on crutches. There was all this stuff
going on in the Thompson House and the Bright Line Eating videographer Daniel
Maggio was here to shoot videos and I ended up asking him in the midst of some
of what felt like a chaotic time, “What’s it like for you to be here during this
time, right, with all this stuff going on?” and
he said, “Well the situation is the boss.” I said, “The situation is the boss.” And he
said, “The situation is the boss.” And I said, “What does that mean exactly? I mean I feel like maybe I kind of get that but I’m not sure what you mean.”
And he said, “Well, it’s a thing that the members of the band of the Grateful Dead
used to say. They used to say, “The Situation is the Boss.” Now when I was
born my parents were hippies and they loved the Grateful Dead and they went to
many Dead shows and I went to a Dead show when I was a kid and I know a
little bit about the Grateful Dead and I was picturing what it must have been
like to be one of the band members or one of the people who helped with their
tour with the kind of touring schedule that they kept up. And I read Mayte
Garcia’s memoir of her time with Prince and Prince was another one who would
go on major tours and have, you know, troops of, I don’t know how many dozens
or hundreds of people involved, so I got a sort of feeling of the touring life
from that book as well and I guess there was a documentary where it was about the
Grateful Dead and they talked about this saying, The situation is the Boss.” The
members of the Grateful Dead used to say this all the time. When interviewers
would ask who’s the boss here, like which band member is seen as the boss and they
would say mmm, “The situation is the boss.” And then maybe they’d be pulled over on
the side of the road because the van broke down right and they’d go well the
carburetor’s the boss right now and then you know they’d be driving to St. Louis
to play a show and someone would puke in the in the tour bus and they’d go, “Oh well
the puke is the boss,” and that’s how they looked at it the situation is the boss.
And as I started to think about this really deeply I
realized that there was a change in my life when this Bright Line Eating
movement came into my life and the change was that most of the time in my
world the situation is the boss. Meaning: you know, I might pledge to institute
certain habits or take care of myself in certain ways or read to my kids every
night or whatever it is and those vows or pledges or intentions might be
motivated by my deepest values and yet I might find myself not following through
on them because the situation is the boss. The situation being the Wednesday
vlog goes out, when it’s time to hire or fire. I pay tremendous attention to my
team and the relationships involved and doing that as well as I can. I’m now in a
position where opportunities sometimes come into the field like the Lifestyle
Medicine opportunity just landed all of a sudden. So I often find myself in a
situation where the situation is the boss. So I say this because you might
resonate with this saying not everyone will all the time if you’re retired and
your days are spacious it might be hard for you to look back at a moment where
from your perspective the situation was the boss, but if you relate to this
saying I want to point out something that’s a real danger of the situation
being the boss. It can be really tempting to rewrite your story of who you are, the
kind of person you are when the situation is the boss.
For example: I’ve noticed myself over the last five or six years that Bright Line
Eating has existed drifting into a story about myself as a mother, that I’m not a
good enough mother and when I look at it all through the lens of the situation as
the boss I realize that actually it’s not that I’m not committed to my kids
it’s that the situation is the boss. Now a similar example might be imagine a
soldier, a male soldier, married for, you know, just a year going off to war going
somewhere in the Middle East and serving successive tours of duty. And imagine he
leaves, you know, his eight-month bride or his one-year bride and pledges, “Baby I’m
gonna write you every day,” and he goes over there and suddenly in ways he
didn’t anticipate the situation is the boss and he finds himself in situations
where there’s no stationery, there’s no stamps,
there’s no post offices, there’s no time to write letters, right?
Even with the deepest commitment and intention and so the danger there is
that he rewrites his story about himself and the love that he has for his wife. Well when you sort of ramify the saying, ‘The situation
is the boss” and you realize how true that is at certain times you realize
what psychologists have known for a long time and I used to teach this in Psych
101 class, little did I know that years later it would have this whole different
meaning to me. It’s called “attributional style” and
there are internal versus external attributions. So, attributions are the
stories we tell about why somebody did something and if we’re telling the story
about ourselves it’s about why we did something or didn’t do something. And the
pitfall that psychologists have noted is that in reality people are hugely
impacted by environments, situations in what they do or don’t do, in other words
the situation is the boss. But people by and large attribute their behavior or
other people’s behavior to internal factors, to factors of values or
temperament or like internal motivation or lack of motivation and they forget
that the situation is the boss. So what does this have to do with your Bright
Line Eating journey and if you find yourself at a time of life where the
situation is the boss, what can you do about it? Well the first thing is to note
that if you’re finding that the situation is the boss a lot you’re going
to need more support. For example thinking that you’re going to read a
book and be able to yourself create the environment in which you’re going to
succeed at implementing all these new things, not as supportive an environment
as if you are in the Bright Line Eating Boot Camp and your hand is being held
and you are supported in layering in all these new habits and
behaviors. 1:More Support. Number 2 is Sacrifices. You’re gonna need to think
about sacrifices. So this can go different ways I remember on a Bright
Lifers’ Coaching Call I was coaching somebody and she was just in a season of
life where the situation was the boss. I forget exactly what the details were but
she was overseas and I believe her best friend was really sick or something like
that and she was finding herself out of any kind of familiar kitchen food
environment, she had very little control over her food and she was suffering from
a lot of depression and I remember counseling her, “Why don’t you let go of
the third and fourth Bright Lines? Try to maybe stick to no sugar and
no flour and just ebb and flow with the rest right now because the situation is
the boss to an extent that I don’t know that it serves you to hold yourself to
this really high bar right now.” And that was my advice in particular
because there was a time horizon right it was predicted that this season of her
life would end at a certain point. Sometimes if we’re aware that the
situation is the boss we can make sacrifices like, just being aware now is
not the time to take an extra college class because we’re interested in the
subject matter, to pick up a new hobby, to say yes to this project at work that we
don’t have to say yes to. There might be sacrifices that we might need to make to
protect enough space for us to be able to do Bright Line Eating. Sometimes we
need to recognize that if we’re super high on the Susceptibility Scale, like I
am extremely high on the Susceptibility Scale. I can’t function
if I let Bright Line Eating go for a period of time. That’s not a viable
option for me which means that I need to sacrifice sometimes deeply in other
areas to keep it all afloat, right? It”s interesting we’ve all accepted
certain things and sacrificed deeply in ways we don’t even realize, like we
sacrifice hours and hours and hours and hours every day because we need to sleep.
It”s not even something we think of as a sacrifice right because it’s just a
given but if we’re high on the Susceptibility Scale, Bright Line Eating
might be up there on that priority stack. In which case, if
the situation keeps being the boss and Bright Line Eating keeps being the thing
that gets sacrificed maybe we need to look again at what needs to be
sacrificed. And then finally in terms of the situation being the boss and our
Bright Line Eating journey as I’ve been reflecting on myself I’ve been thinking
about how I keep doubling and redoubling my
efforts to create more ease and more space and to slow down and when I realize how much the situation is
the boss right now I’ve been called lately to look at it a little differently. I was talking over dinner, this week, with my friend and
Bright Line Eating fellow team member, Amber, and we were talking about her life
and she was talking about, you know, she has four kids. She was talking about when
they were young and the sacrifices that she and her husband made because at
certain times they couldn’t afford to keep, that they couldn’t afford daycare
for all of their young kids. So what they did is they staggered the day and they
kept their kids home. One would work and then the other would work and so each of
them were either with all of the young kids or at work kind of all day long. And
she said she looks back and they were just seven years that were just a blur
of exhaustion and sleep deprivation and muddling through and she said yeah the
situation was the boss. Could I have like rallied and made that not the case? Not
really. The situation was the boss. And so when I look at my time here with little
kids and birthing the Bright Line Eating movement short of dropping the kids off
at an orphanage, leaving my husband, going off to sit on some island somewhere, or
just closing up shop of this whole Bright Line Eating thing a healthier
perspective for me is just to take the bird’s eye view of okay so for a certain
season of my life the situation is going to be the boss. And if it just feels like
I’m muddling through, I just muddle through. It won’t always be
this way there are seasons of life. For everything there’s a season. In which
case, the order of the day is extreme self-compassion and that’s what I want
to close this vlog with is since I learned this saying, Thank You Daniel
Maggio and thank you Grateful Dead, The Situation is the Boss, myself compassion
has risen yet again because it’s not wrong or bad, sometimes it just is. And
before I close I just want to say next week on the weekly vlog is going to be
very special. I’m not gonna tell you right now what it is, but I’ve been
thinking about it for months, I’ve been getting suggestions from people for
years, I’ve been mulling it over, I’ve been pondering, and next week I’ll be
announcing something new and exciting on the weekly vlog. I’ll see you next week.


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