The doctor prescribed me a positive attitude. Not the doctor exactly, but the tv outside the doctor’s office flashing through commercials for all sorts of healthy choices that I should do but don’t. It popped up between an advertisement for the benefits of eating carrots and the need for exercise.
Feeling Stressed: Take advantage of Positive Thinking.
My first thought was that it sounded too simplistic. Until I considered how I have used it successfully in my own life. And I’ve given this advice to others in different words. Positive thinking is not about lying to yourself. It’s about speaking truth to yourself to help understand what you are experiencing.
Here are three of my go to statements.
The worst outcome is manageable.
I have an instinctual tendency to catastrophize. As soon as a negative thought crosses my path, I begin to scroll through all the ways my day is about to be ruined and, inevitably, my life as well. But these experiences rarely risk ruining my life, only my expectations for how things are supposed to go. When I thoughtfully consider the worst that could happen, it doesn’t match my imagination, and my anxiety lightens.
I can’t control everything.
I’m a person who likes control, and l feel stressed when I lose the feeling of being in control. I've learned to allow myself to feel the emotion, but I choose what to do with the anxiety. By examining the situation and carefully filtering out the things I have no actual control over, I’m able to focus my attention on the things that are worth my attention. Sometimes it's necessary to simply look at a situation and recognize that it's awful, and, at the moment, there's nothing I can do about it. It's what Brené Brown frequently refers to as "embracing the suck."
I can do hard things.
This is something I’ve challenged myself with many times. And I find myself reminding others of it also. The way I know I can do hard things is because I’ve done hard things. Being on the starting line, doubts creep in. When I nurture those doubts, I can quickly decide that I’ll be overwhelmed and beaten by the impending disaster. But when I look back into my history, I see all sorts of times that I have overcome, persevered, learned from my mistakes, and survived stressful events. It’s okay to recognize that something is hard, but it is just as important to know that we can do hard things.
What about you? What statements work for you? What statements do you need to tell yourself more?