Sunday, August 18, 2013

Twist Your Thoughts...Be Conscious of Your Reactions

Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling sad, angry, upset, depressed, frustrated, the list of negative emotions and feelings continues, you start to pay attention to everything negative?  In actuality, the day is probably going by relatively normal; you just have yourself in such a rut that you twist every action and event to fit your mood, crappy.

Sit back and imagine this scenario.  You are having a bad day; perhaps you failed a test, got yelled at by a boss, or broke your favorite heirloom.  During the afternoon, you take your dog for a walk down the sidewalk outside your home when you suddenly trip over a crack in the cement.  "$&*# @!_#%**# $(*&% WHY DOESN'T ANYONE FIX THIS DANG CRACK?!" Every obscenity floods your thoughts; this day just must be the worst day you've ever had.  Why can't your dang dog walk itself? Why do you even have a dog? They are so much extra work. You spend more time on your dog than yourself, which is why your dog has a beautiful flowing tail while your hair hangs bluntly over your eyes, blocking your vision, which is probably why you tripped.  It's all your dog's fault!


Stop. Let's think back to the previous day.  You won an award at your school, got promoted for your extraordinary skills, or found an expensive antique in your parents' attic.  That afternoon, you take your dog for a walk down the sidewalk outside your home when you suddenly trip over a crack in the cement.  Let the laughing ensue. "I'm such a clutz! Well aren't I graceful?" You continue skipping down the sidewalk, giggling to yourself while your dog wishes the leash didn't mark his relation to such an embarrassing human.

In both of these scenarios, the same exact event occurred while walking your dog.  The only difference is your twist on the scenario.  

So, you ask, when all you want to do is brood in your unhappiness, how can you possibly NOT twist the scenario in a negative way?  The first step has to do with consciousness.  Let's look back to the very first question that begins this post: "have you ever noticed that when you are feeling sad, angry, upset, depressed, frustrated, the list of negative emotions and feelings continues, you start to pay attention to everything negative?"  If you haven't been conscious of your negative twists, then the answer to this question is probably not.  You probably haven't noticed that you are looking at everything through negative eyes, which is why you continue to do so.  Next time you are having a bad day and everything seems to be going wrong, stop yourself and become conscious of your thoughts.  Next time you are having a wonderful day, become conscious of your thoughts.  Start being conscious of your thoughts as often as you can, any time that you can. This little activity will give you the practice needed to become aware of your exaggerations and reactions. 

How can you become conscious?  Start talking to yourself.  No, you don't have to do it out loud, and no, talking to yourself does not (always) mean you are a crazy person.  No matter what, you will always be there for yourself, so go ahead and make you your best friend.  When you are feeling bad, ask yourself and answer questions like this: 

  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • Is the situation really that bad?
  • How can I change this situation?
  • Could the situation be worse? (P.S. It always could)
  • What actually happened?
  • Is it really plausible to blame the sidewalk for being uneven? Or maybe should I have not been reading my phone while walking...
Simply asking yourself these questions will get you to notice that you are feeling crappy.  Of course, noticing your unhappiness will not get your heirloom back, ace your test, nor will it reverse a scolding or heal a bruised toe, but once you become aware that you are in a bad mood, you will have more power to stop yourself from twisting everything to the bad side, thus starting the reversal of your bad day!

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