HOW TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT THINGS YOU CAN’T STAND
Ready for an important reminder?
I literally have this “Note to Self” hanging up over my work desk right now, and I read it every day:
Most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not the way life is. And when you adjust your thinking, all that extra stress is gone.
There is a real opportunity in every difficult situation to understand yourself more deeply, and also to improve your life.
I encourage you to reflect on recent situations where you’ve felt let down – where life’s outcomes were nowhere near as good as you expected. Rather than focusing on the uncontrollable things that were “done to you,” consider instead your part in what went down. For example, perhaps your gut told you not to do something, but you did so anyway. Or maybe you were deceived a second time by the same person, and wish you had let go of the relationship sooner. Or perhaps you just weren’t paying attention—you just weren’t prepared enough—and ended up suffering the consequences more than necessary.
It’s so easy to be negative when things go wrong, or blame others for negative outcomes in your life. But do negativity and blame change anything for the better?
Truth be told, the best time to be positive and take responsibility for your own peace of mind is when you don’t feel like it. Because that’s when doing so can make the biggest difference.
No matter what the specifics of your troubled times are—pandemic related or not—taking a moment to look inward at what you could have done differently and how you could potentially avoid similar situations in the future can be a healthy exercise. This is not to blame yourself or shame yourself, but simply to give you the opportunity to learn, on a higher level, from your experiences.
It’s about learning to choose the most effective response in a difficult, uncontrollable life situation.
It’s about learning to think better so you can ultimately live better, no matter what.
The key is to realize that no matter what happens, you can choose your attitude and inner dialog, which dictates pretty much everything that happens next. Truly, the greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another – to train our minds to see the good in what we’ve got, even when it’s far less than we expected.
It’s about choosing: Will I allow this to anger me? Will I choose to stay or walk away? Will I choose to yell or speak? Will I choose to react or take the time to respond?
When our Getting Back to Happy Course students come to us feeling down about a life situation they can’t control, we typically start by reinforcing the hard truth: sometimes changing your situation isn’t possible – or simply not possible soon enough. You can’t get to a new job in an instant. You can’t make someone else change against his or her will. And you certainly can’t erase reality. But…
You CAN always choose a mindset that moves you forward. And doing so will help you change things from the inside out, and ultimately allow you to grow beyond the struggles you can’t control at the moment.
Here’s a powerful question that will support you with a positive attitude adjustment when you need it most:
Who would you be, and what else would you see, if you removed the thought that’s worrying you?
Think about it…
Identify a specific thought that’s been troubling your worried mind lately, and then visualize how your life would be different if you removed this thought:
- How would it change your outlook on your present life situation?
- What other possibilities and opportunities might you see?
- What else would you be able to accomplish with this shift in your focus?
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.