Monday, November 27, 2017

"Prepare for the WORST, but..." Wait, how does the rest of that go?

"Prepare for the worst, but HOPE for the best!" Why is it we tend to forget the last part of that maxim? Is it because we have heard it so few times? Perhaps it's too long? Maybe the concept itself is too complex. It may be the first part, the doom and gloom part, takes all our concentration.  After all, can we really expect our minds to think in two completely different terms? Yet if we are looking under rocks to uncover potential booby traps, we never take the time to enjoy the proverbial flowers.  

First, understand that anxiety is actually there for good reason. It's a survival mechanism. We are constantly looking for an alternate ending, a way out, or at least a really good lie. We want to have options when it comes to saving our relationships, not getting mugged, being fired, or just talking our way out of a traffic ticket. Self preservation itself is not bad so long as it is not at the expense of others. However, we get stuck there. We are always watching out for the next big financial pitfall or social jackpot. Our minds take in billions of bits of information every day. The great majority of that data has no bearing on our lives whatsoever. Nonetheless, there is a lot to sift through. Perhaps there really are more things that could go wrong than right.

Without a doubt, negative self-talk will manifest itself into a bad attitude, limiting beliefs and even a poor outlook on ourselves. Some of that talk is our own creation and some of it (some more than others) is something that has played each and every day since we were small children. So, why is this little inner PA system always playing? With exception to deep-seeded emotional issues, there are just two reasons; we are comfortable with what is familiar, and silence scares us. Yep, that's pretty much it. Trusting in the way things have always been done is far better than looking inward at ourselves.  Have you ever known someone in a co-dependent relationship? Rationale would dictate they leave an abusive entanglement, but they remain due to a fear of the unknown or even possibly being alone.    

Perhaps we should BEGIN hoping for the best! Far more important than dwelling on unrealistic negatives is how to move forward searching for positive outcomes. This takes adjusting our own attitudes toward, well, everything. This is nothing that can be done a psychologist, minister, board-certified magician, your boss, your parents, your spouse or the HR lady. Sorry, not even I can help you with this one. It is something the individual must do for themselves.   

However, here are a few things that help you move in the right direction;

Get a better class of friends. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once stated; "We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with." We tell or children to not hang out with the wrong crowd. Yet do we head our own advice?  You are only obligated to see your extended family on Thanksgiving, the other 364 days of the year are YOURS!  Seriously, do we seek those who can help elevate us or simply those who are comfortable and familiar?  Maybe we gravitate toward those who are most like us, as we are now. Perhaps we are the ones who are co-dependent.

Again, with the diet and exercise? Yes and who knows, there might actually be something to it, too! There have been hundreds of studies on the emotional and psychological benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. That means more fish. Also, we must train ourselves to fill our lungs with more air so we can better get oxygen to our brain. The type of deep breathing we can only get from exercise. Good news here; ANY physical activity will get our heart rate up, so have fun with it. Unless you have a medical condition, there is no wrong exercise.    

"Purple giraffe!" Did you just envision a blue otter in your mind? No, because it was filled with the image of a two-tone lavender equine with a long neck. The human brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time with any great detail. Whatever is there, is there. If we tell ourselves to NOT think of something, it's still there. We can't allow ourselves to become frustrated when we imagine the worst, like getting fired, breaking up, arguing with our children or Bananarama on tour. Acknowledge those negative ideas for what they are; distortions of reality. Then, simply let them creep on through our mind until they find the exit. They will eventually leave, they always do unless we choose to hold onto them.    

Give yourself a time out. Take some quiet time, you deserve it. Go somewhere completely devoid of people, phones, distractions, wi-fi or even background music. Have a conversation with yourself. As stated, we already talk to ourselves, so this should be easy. Have an honest talk with yourself about the type of person you are, what makes you happy, and where you want to be in life.  Believe it or not, this is where I LOSE MOST OF YOU. As simple as it is, it's just too damned awkward.  

Get enough sleep. A Columbia University study showed the rate of those surveyed who had sleep
deprivation and sought out professional help for psychiatric disorders by about 8:1, versus those who were well rested, yet sought help. Eight to one! How many of those eight would never have had an issue had they just got an extra hour or two of sleep each night? Those one-hour sessions lying on the psychologist's couch would have been just as effective had a subject actually fallen asleep on it!   

Live with passion! No doubt, some people aren't seeing the good simply because they just are not happy.  Happiness really is a decision, not a state. Of course, we all have bad days, suffer regret and mourn loss. But that should be the exception to human existence. When I conduct career coaching with clients, I ask them what they are most passionate about. Sadly most simply do not know what would excite them to get out of bed in the morning. They only roll out of bed due to habit or a sense of what the consequences will be. Passion overcomes fear and if we are anticipating all the good that will come from the new day, our attitude will rise to meet the need. 

Sad to say, we will always have those little negative thoughts and anxiety. The trick is to outweigh them with positive expectation and constant reminders of how awesome we truly are. And that, takes purposeful intention.  

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