One of the ways I work to improve my life is to improve my thinking. Every day as a hypnotherapist, I see how critical the way we think is to the quality of our lives. People can actually make themselves sick by focusing on one thought and begin to feel better by focusing on another. Did you ever worry yourself into an upset stomach? I have.
I remember one incident clearly. I was working at a very difficult job with an almost impossible boss. The boss asked for a meeting with me and I was certain that I was going to get chewed out again. I started thinking about what I possibly could have done wrong. I went over and over every project I had worked on and everything I had said to her. I couldn’t think of anything but I knew she never asked anyone for a meeting for something good so it had to be bad. By the time the meeting time came, my stomach was in knots. I sat down in her office and she looked at me and smiled and said, Carol I have extra tickets to a benefit and I’d like to take you to it as a thank you for all your hard work. Would you like to go? My stomach cramps started to ease and I almost laughed out loud for the 2 hours of hell I put myself through imagining the worst.
From that incident and many others like it, I realized that I need to spend more time anticipating that good things are going to happen and that in general people have the best of intentions.
Every day we attach meaning to things especially to other people’s motives. We think someone who cuts us off in traffic is a *#@!, rather than someone who is distracted. We think that the co-worker who speaks to us sharply is out to get us, rather than having a bad day or a person who doesn’t have the skills to ask for what he wants in a better way.
We can do a lot for our own self worth if we start to look at the way we interpret things from the viewpoint of whether it helps us or not. Does it help me be the type of person I want to be to hold this thought or interpretation? I know someone out there is saying, "yeah but the guy really is a jerk!" I say, "Does believing he is a jerk help you?" What does believing that guy is a jerk bring up for you? Anger? Defensiveness? What does changing the thought and thinking: "This guy really needs some help with his social skills. He must be a really unhappy person to act that way, " bring up for you? Which is more helpful to you?
When we can look at the way we interpret things and change our interpretations in a way that is helpful to us, we reclaim our power.
As Victor Frankl, concentration camp survivor wrote in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning wrote:
[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
I love this quote and I return to it time and time again. If men and women faced with unspeakable horrors can still see that the way they look at the world is the essence of their power, who am I to let the pettiness of day to day life bring me down?
For today, find one thing tht you are placing your own meaning on and see if changing the meaning you give it can change your day!