Reaching for relief Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Tuesday, 19 November 2019 14:45
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“A thought may be ‘true’ yet still prevent you from living your life’s purpose. Choose thoughts that serve you.”

So says Madisyn Taylor. She says that the meaning you give to your experiences, whether upsetting or pleasant, is a very powerful factor in shaping the quality of your life. What you imagine events to mean will colour the way you feel about yourself, the people around you and the world out there.

Once you become aware of this, you may be shocked at the messages you’ve been feeding yourself all these years, she says. If you try taking the reins and start doling out kinder meanings to events, you’ll likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.

Cognitive-behavioural therapist, Eric Maisel, says that for thousands of years, natural philosophers and spiritual leaders have pinpointed our thoughts as a primary source of our suffering. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a contemporary version of that long tradition and therapists ask you to notice what you are thinking; to reject thoughts that aren’t serving you and replace them with thoughts that do serve you.

When you’re in distress, there are two questions to ask yourself: The first is, “What’s causing it?” The second is, “What will help?” The answer to the first is, “How you think” and the answer to the second is, “Take charge of what you think.”

Each of us tells ourselves a story about life all the time, says Eric. Generally speaking, that story is rather negative and sometimes downright despairing. It often helps to try some goofy things to stop negative thought patterns. Simply change one word of a thought. Put in any new word you like. Instead of thinking, “I have no chance”, rather think “I have no socks” or “I have no animal crackers” or “Goats have no chance”.

This silly exercise will show you that changing your inner language really helps. Your use of language can either support you or sabotage you. If you want to weigh in on the side of support, it’s worth learning how to reach for better-feeling thoughts.

In their book, ‘The Astonishing Power of Emotions’, Esther and Jerry Hicks explain how to do this. They say that any emotion we feel comes from the thoughts we’re thinking. If you don’t like the way you’re feeling, you should change your thoughts.

Unfortunately most of us can’t jump from zero to hero in a single thought. That’s why you have to do it in stages, writes Esther and Jerry. You reach for a feeling of relief and you do that by choosing a thought that feels slightly better than the previous one.

Each time you reach for a better-feeling thought, you climb yet another step up the ladder towards “good-good-good, good vibrations”. (Nod to The Beach Boys here.)

Here’s an example:

“I hate my dead-end job.”
“I really do hate my job, but at least I have colleagues that I have a good time with.”
“Why can’t I enjoy my job?”
“What can I do differently to change that?”
“If I can change the dynamic of doing my job; that would be amazing.”
“If I make some changes with how I approach my job, there is a chance things can improve.”
“If things don’t improve with my job, then maybe its time for me to try something else.”
“Trying something new actually sounds pretty interesting.”
“I’m excited to try some new things in my current job.”
“I’m really curious about what life has in store for me!”

You see the upward movement? Curiosity is the keyword here. When you’re curious, life is not set in cement any more. It becomes flexible. Eleanor Roosevelt said that, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.

So, girlfriend, next time you’re thinking, “I’m in a pit of despair”, say to yourself: “How interesting! I wonder why?” And then allow your curiosity to saunter ahead unleashed.

Of course you can always rather say: “I’m in a pit of éclairs.”

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