You may be weary of the question, “Is your glass half full or half empty?”
If you can’t see it as half full most of the time, it’s not your fault.
Our brains are wired to prepare us for dangerous situations. That means we often go to the list of what-ifs, and those can cause our glasses to diminish.
Blame it on the throwback response to saber-toothed tiger dangers of yesteryear. Our fight-or-flight responses release cortisone into our systems to deal with these “emergencies,” and that can cause stress.
Just realize it’s a process. The key is awareness. So, when you catch yourself going into a negative spiral, just notice that. You can change your thoughts — and you no longer need to be afraid of the lions, tigers and bears. Oh, my!
Dealing with uncertainty
I was inspired by a recent talk on resilience by my friend and colleague, Aila Accad. She’s a registered nurse, author and life coach; and she shared an interesting exercise.
Our minds love questions, and they go in search of answers. The problem, though, is that we often ask questions out of fear that have no real answers. So, the mind keeps searching and searching ... and going around in circles. This keeps the uncertainty swirling.
Right now I’m at Ocean Isle, North Carolina, on hurricane watch. By the time this column is published, my husband, John, and I will know the outcome of Hurricane Dorian. Right now, though, we’re living in the “cone of uncertainty.”
With this situation, we really have no control — and have to live with ambiguity. As a planner and organizer — with a tad of control mixed in there — this is not my strong suit!
While it’s tempting to watch The Weather Channel or check online updates all the time, that can be detrimental. We need enough information to be prepared, yet not so much overload that we spiral down into anxiety. So we wait ...
What a great time to focus on what is going right. Here’s a look at Aila’s exercise. It’s very simple, yet it can yield profound results. Just keep asking your mind these questions:
- What is going right in my life?
- What else is going right?
- And what else is right?
Since the mind loves questions and likes to provide answers, it will keep searching and searching — to come up with more things that are going right. This becomes easier with practice.
Gratitude can be a powerful antidote to worry, stress and anxiety. You’ve likely heard of the power of gratitude journals. Sometimes this method may seem forced, though. Which is fine. It’s OK to fake it till you make it.
If you have resistance to journaling, you might want to try this approach. It lets your mind do the work for you. Our minds also like to think in pictures, so the more you can visualize these things that are going right, the better.
Putting things into perspective
My niece, Caity, has a wonderful way of shedding light on life lessons with her sons. She came up with the phrase “PIP it” as a shorthand way of saying “put it into perspective,” and we’ve adopted the phrase in our extended family. It helps us to snap back quickly.
Consider these real-life scenarios, as shared by authors and life coaches, Marc and Angel Chernoff, from participants in their workshops. Talk about PIP-ing it!
“On my nursing shift at the hospital this evening, I was forced into a moment of clarity when I got off my phone, utterly flustered after having an argument with my husband. An 8-year-old patient, who’s dying of leukemia, asked me if I was OK.”
“Today is the 10-year anniversary of the day I had planned on ending my life. It’s also the 10-year anniversary of the day I found out I was pregnant with my now 9-year-old son. He’s the reason I changed my mind. And he is so worth it! But, perhaps most important, I now realize I am worth it, too.”
So, what is going right in your life?