Why is it that we think the worst? So your boss comes in and says they want to talk to you. Why is it easier to think your boss is not happy with you than to believe they want to tell you about something you did right? Why is it easy to believe your husband is cheating or involved with someone else. When the truth is he is just preoccupied. Why is it that we put ourselves through this? I love the way John Milton put it “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.” It is so prevalent for humans to see the bad that psychology has a term for it. It is called “catastrophic thinking” and we are hardwired to look for problems because that is how we survived. If we didn’t see the danger in the past, it usually meant we died from them. Studies have shown that 60-70 % of all our thoughts are negative. But the problem with catastrophic thinking is that it often triggers the outcome we fear. As well as creating an unpleasant or painful state. So for many of us it has gone beyond our hardwiring and is just patterns we have created.
But here again we can take something that is meant for our protection and create patterns that don’t serve us. Thinking the boss is unhappy with your work is not likely to result in your death. Neither is having your spouse leave you today. So when these catastrophic thoughts start what is it that you can do about them. You can change the direction of your thoughts. Investigate the thought. Is the thing you are imagining actually happening right now? If it is not, are you safe at the moment? If you are safe at the moment is it possible that you are causing your own suffering? If you are, can you stop it? Is the situation is real or imagined can you cope with or overcome it?
So then when these come what are things that we can use to work past the catastrophic thoughts? Let’s investigate some tools. We are going to start with breathing. Now maybe you are thinking man this guy is a one trick pony his answer to a lot of things is breathing. Well there is a good reason for that, there are many new studies coming out that show what a huge difference it makes. We are finding that we are not using that tool the way we need to in order to have the results that we want.
Next thing is movement. This is another thing I talk about often. The reason is that it is a tool that we don’t use enough. Going for a walk, doing some stretching, or yoga is great. All of these are amazing for your physical and mental health. We are designed to move! Get out there and move that body.
Let’s move on to Mindfulness. When we are being mindful we are fully present. We are aware of our senses like touch, taste, sight hearing and smell. We are in the moment not thinking of what happened 10 mins ago nor what will happen in two hours. When you are present and engage your senses There is no time to worry there are no what if’s. If you feel like you need to rediscover yourself you do not need to buy something expensive or leave to find yourself.
Be true to yourself. This is a way to actually show love and respect to yourself. Being congruent means we behave, think and feel in the same way. If I see myself the same way that you do then I am acting congruent. Congruence reduces stress and is vital to peace of mind. So a perfect example of this is when someone stops you on the street or at the store and asks you how you are doing and you say “I’m fine” even if it is not true.