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Fragments and Shrapnel: It IS What You Think

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:

1. Re-label
2. Re-frame your thinking
3. Re-focus
4. Re-value

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?


About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

One response »

  1. wonderful writing today. It’s often so easy to just focus on one aspect of a situation rather than look at the big picture – it all flows back to one of my favorite sayings….things are neither good nor bad, it just depends on what we do with it.
    There are so many ways ‘bad’ things have turned into ‘good’ things in my life. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I learned Reiki, and have met so many great people through it. After his 2 year journey to his death, the events that happened prompted me to write a book about it.
    And, asking for help…..gee, why should it be so hard for us?


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