Over the past couple of weeks my comfort zone has been tested while my commute got longer. Throw in a big project I’ve been slowly working on for my aunt Tricia and the world seemed like a really big place.
When uncomfortable changes arrive on my doorstep, my first response, like most people, is to have a knee-jerk reaction. I dwelled on the long commute, how tired I would be, and having to sit behind smelly people for too long. The book project seemed too big and I didn’t know where to start.
Often times a situation just IS and how we react turns it into a positive or negative experience. I have a creative network of friends who are always willing to help me out when I’m in a rut but some days I forget that and would rather beat my head against the wall.
Recently on A Closer Look Radio, Pam interviewed author and neuro-psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz. He has a new book out on how to re-wire your brain and how to not let deceptive messages we tell ourselves every day (like I’m not good enough, I’m fat, etc. etc.) rule our lives. I have previously mentioned on this blog that I don’t believe in miracle pills or that one size fits all, but this was one of those interviews that made me pay attention and take lots of notes. Dr. Schwartz’s brain-rewiring message was broken down into four steps:
2. Re-frame your thinking
Instead of taking the easy route and going down the spiral of pity and loathing, I used Dr. Schwartz’s advice in my own situation.
• Yes, my commute is longer but I also don’t have to get up as early and I get to go to bed later.
• I take the train to work and do not sit in bump-to-bumper traffic which would take 10 years off my life.
• I get shit done.
With this new plan in place, I was ready to tackle the mountain that is my aunt’s book project. I talked about it with a friend and fellow writer and she brought a fresh outlook to the project. With her help and advice, I was able to parse the project down into manageable chunks. After our talk, I felt like the sun had made a brief appearance in the Pacific Northwest and the birds were singing. By just taking the step of asking for help, I turned a brewing disaster into a feeling of renewed confidence so I could get the project done.
In the interview, Dr. Schwartz also suggested giving yourself positive feedback and rewards for small changes. Like most overachievers, I have this notion that I need to climb a mountain on my first try or publish the great American novel from a first draft. I like the idea of rewarding myself for small changes AND giving myself permission to ask for help. It helps make the journey a little more palatable and easier to walk. What about you? How have YOU changed your thinking when life throws you a curve ball?