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Hulk Vs. Eeyore: A Simple 6-Step Process to Overcoming Friction in Life

in Do What You Love

Hulk Mode

When we run into friction in our lives there are generally three ways we deal with it:

  1. Blow up and go berserk on the nearest person (or sometimes closest inanimate object).
  2. Do nothing. Why should we?  It’s out of our control.  Sigh.
  3. Shift our focus from the negative and start brainstorming possible solutions.

For 23 out of the 25 years of my life, I specialized in the 1st category.  Honestly, I became pretty good at it.

At times it got results.  When it didn’t get results, it at least got a response.  Either way, I could almost guarantee that I left the other person feeling like crap.  And in my mind, that meant I won.

I’ve worked hard over the last couple of years to change this aspect of myself, which I’ve nicknamed my Hulk-mode. It’s certainty not eliminated, but it’s fairly subdued most of the time.  I’ve found ways to keep it in check.

Since traveling, I’ve felt myself slipping more and more into the opposite extreme (the 2nd category). It’s easy to just ‘check out’ when you run into friction in a foreign country.  We’ve had our fair share of turbulence with visas, work permits, and job hunting on the trip.

Through these times, it’s been easy to enter what I call my Eeyore-mode.  More than once, I’ve uttered the words, “Screw this… let’s go home…”

Let’s go back to warm and cozy territory.  To the place where I know when I should blow up and when it’s best to check out.  The place where I’ve grown accustom to the best solutions for almost any obstacle we’d bump into.  The low action, low risk, and low reward lifestyle we love so dearly.

My system to control my Hulk-mode & avoid my Eeyore-mode.

It’s obvious that neither the Hulk-mode nor the Eeyore-mode is desirable in most circumstances.  The last option of the three almost always yields the best results.

You get to keep a part of the screw this mentality (which I love), but instead of checking out, you instead immediately focus on solutions.  This is the only thing that keeps getting us over the hurdles we seem to attract so regularly.

My favorite phrase to accomplish this in rapid time?.. I’m over it…” Usually accompanied by raising my left hand and averting my glaze down and to the right.  Seriously, try it.  It’ll make you feel better.

Next, a two second deep breathe through the nose and then immediately into brainstorming solutions.  Within minutes if not seconds, I’m usually very clear on what needs to be done.  There is less blood than Hulk-mode and less depression than Eeyore-mode.

The quick recap:

  1. Process problem
  2. Declare “I’m over it…”
    • Avert glaze down and right
    • Raise left hand to face level
  3. Two-second deep breath
  4. Realize an alternative
  5. Test alternative
  6. If fails… repeat steps 1-5

The next time you bump into friction in your life, try the Hulk vs. Eeyore method above.  Let me know if it works for you, as well as it’s been working for me!

What are your own mental tricks to overcome friction and focus on solutions? I find this topic fascinating and would love to test some more.  God knows, we will have ample opportunities…

photo by Eneas

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave - LifeExcursion November 16, 2009 at 10:48 AM

I have been in both moods in different times in my life.

When it came to politics while in college, I would get into my Hulk-mode whenever someone (probably rationally) disagreed with me. My Eeyore-mode came later when I was just depressed with my 9-5. Either way, I realized in the last few years that life is to short to waste it on such unexciting attitudes towards life. So what I did was have no worries.

After going to Aussie, I began using the phrase no worries and that relieved most if not all of my Hulk/Eeyore-mood-adjusting-molecules. The No Worries attitude has made every and all decision making easy. It goes something like this…

1)Realize the current situation probably won’t bring about the end of civilization.
2)Take into consideration the seriousness of my/others actions
3)Say ‘No Worries’ allowed and/or to myself
4) Start Problem solving
5)Live with and accept the consequences of response
6)Lastly, move forward

Sure, this may be too much of a Matthew-McConaughey-mode, but it certainly has relieved stress and conflict when it comes to working with others in situations I may not have as much as control as I would like.

I enjoyed your outlook and solution to the two moods you discussed Baker. Hope mine will help you out as well.

David Damron
LifeExcursion
.-= Dave – LifeExcursion´s last blog ..Why My Birthday (TODAY) & Your Birthday Are Meaningless & That’s Awesome =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Great point, Dave. Your “No Worries” is the the same thing as the “I’m over it.” Of course, having been through Australia myself, I can understand the appeal of this phrase!

It has a much better feel than “screw it” or “I’m over it,” as well!

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Little House November 16, 2009 at 10:54 AM

I am very familiar with #1. My husband is the great “hulk” as well, however, as he’s gotten older, he has gotten much better at keeping it in check. Now, I usually get #3. If something doesn’t work out, he can now begin to discuss alternatives without turning red then green.

I, myself, have always been either a #2 or #3. Usually a #3. The Eeyore mode is much too passive to accomplish anything!
.-= Little House´s last blog ..Those Who You Least Expect =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Haha, yeah, for some reason I think Hulk-mode is consider macho or manly in our culture. I know I’ve fallen victim to some of that influence (even though a woman’s hulk-mode tends to be much more scary in my experience!).

:)

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Colin Wright November 16, 2009 at 12:16 PM

I’ve found that the third solution can actually be the WRONG solution in some circumstances.

When I come across any kind of problem, my immediate, knee-jerk reaction is to fix the problem. This is something that has served me very well in the past, but I have dated people who would get annoyed to no end about it.

“I had a horrible day!” they’d say, “this happened and then this and then this and I’m feeling really depressed right now!”

“Okay, let’s figure this out,” I’d say, totally missing the point. “Can you do this? I’ll do this and then we’ll get this handled, and then no more depression!”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way, and what they would really want to hear was “I’m sorry you had such a bad day! Here’s a hug! Want me to rub your feet?” and to share in the pouting for a little while.

I guess you live and learn which is the most appropriate reaction for a given situation, but the distinction still seems a little hazy to me sometimes!
.-= Colin Wright´s last blog ..Free eBook: How to Be Remarkable =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Great perspective. And the distinction is *always* going to be hazy, which makes it a fun pursuit!

I do know what you mean about being over focus on solutions though. Sometimes we need to realize that not all solutions REQUIRE immediate action. I’ve found that making a conscious decision that inaction is the best remedy is far from just assuming it in all cases (as is common in my Eeyore-mode).

Love it.

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Lakita November 16, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Your 6 step guide is a lot cooler than the one I had to memorize while in AFROTC! The fact that I don’t have to do pushups while reciting it…well that’s an added bonus!

They are similar:
Identify the problem
Gather data
List possible solutions
Test possible solutions
Choose a solution
Evaluate the results

Wow…that was 10 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday!
.-= Lakita´s last blog ..The DUMBEST (Financial) Move I’ve Ever Made =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Haha, well if you still remember it then kudos to them! :-)

If you remember the Hulk vs. Eeyore in 10 years, I’ll be smiling ear-to-ear. Haha.

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B Kinch November 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Colin! I struggle with this sometimes too! I’m by nature VERY solution oriented (at least when someone else is having a crisis) and sometimes I have to remind myself that what is needed is probably some empathetic listening and a little space in which to freak out. That being said, I find that when things go wrong for ME, the sooner I can gt down to solution time, the less damage done.
.-= B Kinch´s last blog ..the calm before =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:46 PM

B, I hear you too. Actually Courtney does this to me sometimes. When something is going wrong I usually need a little space (to avoid Hulk-mode as I outlined above), but her nature is caring and action oriented.

She’s tries to help and I end up being rude to her for no good reason! Recipe for disaster. The better I get at handling this though, the more welcoming I can be of someone trying to help, too.

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Jeff @ Sustainablelife blog November 16, 2009 at 12:42 PM

I’d have to say that I know full well what you’re dealing with. There have been many times that i’ve just said “hell with this, it’s not worth it”, and just as many times i’ve flown into a rage. I usually try to yell at inanimate objects like the radio, tv or computer, just so that im not hurting anyone’s feelings or anything.
Taking a step back when I hear about a problem has definitely stopped me from going into Hulk-mode, and allowed me to look at things from a different perspective. I’ve begun to try and focus on just getting the problem off the table at this point — solving it or asking for someone’s help to solve it then move on. Wasting my time nit-picking over past decisions will probably kick me into the “eeyore vortex” which can be hard to get out of.
I think colin makes some good points — many people may not want the problems solved, as it just provides 1 less excuse and then no one feels sorry for you when you have no problems.
Either way, good luck.
.-= Jeff @ Sustainablelife blog´s last blog ..The High Cost of Being a Moron =-.

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Jill MacGregor November 16, 2009 at 1:18 PM

When I am at high frustration with a situation I sometimes have to take myself and my feelings out of the scenario to move through it. I don’t quit. I just picture how my most patient friend would respond and look at it through her eyes.
So helpful…
Take Care,
Jill
.-= Jill MacGregor´s last blog ..Imposter =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:48 PM

Ah, that’s a great technique too. By channeling it through someone you truly respect as patient, I can see how that would immediately frame the problem through that lens.

Awesome addition, I gotta try it out. Now if I only had a patient friend… ;-)

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Foxie | CarsxGirl November 16, 2009 at 1:56 PM

I’m the blow-up master, ha. My husband would definitely give me that title. I’m working on getting it all under control, I do tend to react in the extremes. “Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.” I went from the “not caring” bit to getting very upset, and I know somewhere in the middle is the best place to be.

I’m with Colin there, though. I’d much rather my husband let me be mopey for a bit and be sympathetic instead of instantly trying to fix everything for me… While it’s appreciated, I don’t see a whole lot wrong with letting yourself experience feelings, whether it’s anger, depression or otherwise. (As long as it isn’t long-term negative.)
.-= Foxie | CarsxGirl´s last blog ..I swear they aren’t that expensive, okay? =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Foxie, I agree. We shouldn’t constantly be trying to get out of every emotion. There are going to be ups and downs (and that’s actually good).

As you pointed out, though, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut. That may be anger or depression or whatever. Our emotions can escalate quickly if we let ourselves become trapped (at least for me). Whenever we noticed it’s gone from “a bit mopey” to “trapped & negative,” that’s when it is time for a change! :-)

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Roblynn November 16, 2009 at 2:50 PM

The best way to cure the hulk mode it to live in a foreign country where the people do not speak your native tongue! It really loses some of the umph when no one understands your rantings and ravings! Very humbling.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Haha, yeah for sure!

Even just traveling a little and getting outside your comfort zone has worked for me. But the more you stretch it (foreign speaking country) the more effect this will have! As long as you can avoid the opposite extreme, too (still working on it myself).

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Live for Improvement November 16, 2009 at 3:40 PM

I transform into Hulk mode regularly when things get difficult, and need to manage my frustration better. I will give your method a try, Thanks
.-= Live for Improvement´s last blog ..Commercial Staging Areas =-.

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Financial Samurai November 16, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Baker – 23 out of 25 years huh? Wow! What about the other years? Or, are you only 25? :)

I don’t know what it is, but the older I get, the more peaceful I am. I accept the nature of things, and expect things never to run smoothly. Hence, I’m usually either at peace, or pleasantly surprised in everything I do.

Deep breathing, and asking yourself “does it really matter” definitely helps keep the beast at bay.
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Katana: Favorite Posts of The Week Ending 11/15 =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Yep, 25 here. :-)

Although even with younger age, I’ve noticed the same trend you have. While I certainly won’t claim I’m ‘at peace’ in most things I do, I have become more and more accepting.

The funny thing is it’s actually more effective to be this way (at least for me).

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Jason of Kim & Jason November 16, 2009 at 6:46 PM

So that’t the REAL reason you have a (relatively) limited supply of shirts and pants on your list of possessions — Hulk mode is to blame! (I always thought the poor guy should invest in more spandex.)
.-= Jason of Kim & Jason´s last blog ..Memories Are Made Outside the Box =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 10:17 PM

Shhhhhhhhhh! You promised you wouldn’t tell!

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Tina Fortune November 16, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Nice post. I have a teen and during her 6th grade year, I felt like the Female version of Hulk almost daily! Thank God the monster that swalled my child spit her back out 2 years later.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 10:17 PM

Yeah, it’s easy to enter Hulk-mode with a toddler… I’m sure a female teenager is ever worse!

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Eric | Eden Journal November 16, 2009 at 8:41 PM

I like the Hulk vs. Eeyore comparison. I’m typically slow to anger, so of the two, I more often take the Eeyore route. You’re simple list of steps are good, the tough part is remembering to enact them. It’s amazing how much good a deep breath will do. It really relaxes the tension and makes it easier to proceed.
.-= Eric | Eden Journal´s last blog ..WIN a $25 Amazon Gift Card! 5 Weeks of Contests, 5 Chances to WIN =-.

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Baker November 16, 2009 at 10:18 PM

I agree. If you have to remember them, usually the battle is already lost. I receive the biggest benefit from making them almost automatic. Like a sort of natural reaction to frustration. It’s awesome when it works. ;-)

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Casey November 17, 2009 at 1:39 AM

Taking a deep breathe is definitely the best step. I think your process will really evolve positively with the time you spend in Asia. Namaste.
.-= Casey´s last blog ..Photo of the Week: Misty Mountain Tops =-.

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kenyantykoon November 17, 2009 at 2:39 AM

i prefer ignoring things no matte how annoying if and only if they are out of my control. Iread somewhere once that if you are not sure of what to do, don’t do anything. In many cases this line proves useful
.-= kenyantykoon´s last blog ..DUAL PURPOSE FUNDS FOR THE OPTION SEEKING INVESTOR =-.

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Hunniebun November 17, 2009 at 10:08 AM

Well put! I tend to reserve my Hulk-mode for my poor unsuspecting husband, my eeyore-mode for strangers (as there is little I dread more than public confrontation…best to keep that behind closed doors!) and my positive solution oriented mode for work. Since I haven’t been to work in nearly 11 months due to my son’s arrival…I have to admit my solution-oriented skills appear to be a little out of practice and Hulk/Eeyore have taken over. So I have been making an effort (even before your timely blog) to use the non-reaction approach with my family (Isn’t it easier to over look the dirty coffee cup that is now sitting beside the computer than it is to pop a blood vessel over it?). It always seems to be easiest to be the hardest on the ones we love…and reserve our polite solution oriented ways for strangers or co-workers! Sad but true. But no more! Today is a new day…

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Evolution Of Wealth November 17, 2009 at 10:32 AM

It doesn’t look like anyone has asked so I have to…Is there any significance to looking down and to the right? What about raising your left hand to face level?
I’ve learned a little bit about NLP and down and to the right is a kinesthetic movement which would tap into feelings. It would take a lot of human control to change you current feelings with this approach. It should in face strengthen your current feelings. So if you are Hulk or Eeyore it should make you more so. I could be wrong though and are in no way a psychologist.
You could try up and to the right. That should create a constructed visualization which is often used when lying. This might help you shift your mood more readily. They also say you cannot cry while looking up. As I said I don’t necessarily know what I’m talking about.
Great article. I think we can all relate to it. Realization of your behaviors are what allows you to change.
.-= Evolution Of Wealth´s last blog ..What Is Your Greatest Asset? =-.

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Michael November 17, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Gin and tonic. Kidding, of course. Whiskey. Again, kidding.

I’m at the stage now that recognizing “the Hulk” (I don’t seem to have an Eeyore) is 90% of the battle. Once I recognize it, I stop talking. Collect my thoughts. Proceed.

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Zoli Cserei November 17, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Hi Adam,

Those three kinds of reactions that you listed also apply to my experiences too. I’m still quite new here, but am I wrong if I say that your hulk attitude might have also disappeared due to that cute smile on the face of the baby who is featured in your header? These awesome little creatures make us become more.. peaceful, I believe :)

Best wishes,
Zoli

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Randall November 18, 2009 at 12:17 AM

Just breathe and the answer will come!
.-= Randall´s last blog ..Your nuts! You just don’t know it! Stop it! =-.

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Mike November 19, 2009 at 3:02 AM

One thing I’d like to mention is that the Eeyore-mode can often lead to the Hulk-mode. Well at least for me. I’m pretty calm most of the times and reacting to friction or coming up with solutions feels like it takes too much energy. So a lot of the times I just say screw it and move on. But I have found that doing this over and over somehow builds up and fuels the HULK that is within me. Then BAM! Hulk is out on a rampage. Just like that.

I have been making a conscious effort because I really don’t want to be Hulk, especially around the girlfriend so I have made huge strides since I’ve started.

I have found that deep breathing really helps. And when in doubt..just WOOOSAAH! :)
.-= Mike´s last blog ..Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine =-.

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kosmo @ The Casual Observer November 19, 2009 at 10:19 AM

I try to adopt a principle of materiality (a theory I learned in accounting class years ago). If the issue is a large issue, it’s OK to dig my feet in and fight. If it’s a minor thing – especially if it’s a one-time issue and I have zero chance of changing it – I just let it go. My happiness is worth something – I’m not going to put myself in a bad mood because of something trivial.
.-= kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Interview with Baker from ManVsDebt =-.

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Roger November 28, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Fantastic post (and not just because the title makes me thing of a horribly unbalanced fight between a raging beast and a stuffed donkey). I have a tendency towards more Eeyore mode myself (I never really get very angry) and I always have to remind myself to keep things in perspective and keep upbeat. I’ve gotten better at it over the decades (I was really bad back in elementary school, believe it or not), but I still have to tell myself to buck up every now and again. Just have to keep it, I suppose.
.-= Roger´s last blog ..Weekly Thoughts: Start the Giving Season =-.

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Rebecca May 20, 2011 at 10:32 AM

This is so true! I am this way and so is my daughter and I’ve really been trying to help the both of us.
Thanks!

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Thomas Frank February 21, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Wow – I think you’ve perfectly illustrated the same path I’ve taken in my own life. When I was in high school I’d tend to get really mad about problems. I don’t think I dipped too much into the Eeyore mode, but I did start focusing on remaining calm and looking for solutions. It’s done a world of good :)

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