Often times our imaginations lead us into dark negative places, in which we imagine the worst-case scenarios taking place. Read below and learn how to focus what can go right and not wrong.
Here’s a funny anecdote from this past week. I got together with my friend Katherine who had just returned from a two-week stint in India on a meditation retreat lead by a teacher who had been offering an introductory meditation class through her yoga studio.
Katherine had never been to India before and thus she went on the Internet and read up on how to safely travel in India. Katherine’s most pervasive concern was, like most foreign travelers, how to safely eat and drink in India to avoid Dysentery also affectionately known as “the trots”. At the same time, being that it had been quite a while since she had been on an extended international flight, she was beginning to get nervous about the sixteen-hour direct flight she would be taking from New York to India. Katherine began to imagine the possibility of engine failure or some other catastrophic plane malfunction.
So, in preparation for her big meditation trip, Katherine filled her suitcase with stomach medications for “the trots” and Xanax for her growing anxiety over the flight. When Katherine finally got to India, she did not encounter one problem with the food or water, and the flight there went off without a hitch, and she slept most of the way. As she told it, she had an absolutely magical “transformative” time on her meditation retreat, and despite a couple of mosquito bites – her trip was a wild success. None of the disastrous machinations of her mind came to pass.
However, when she was getting into her TAXI at Newark Airport on her way home she banged her head incredibly hard on the door of the cab, then she went to the Food Emporium across the street from her home in Midtown Manhattan and wound up getting food poisoning from a piece of fish she purchased there. The irony was that everything she feared would happen in India – didn’t. And in the end, she got injured and food poisoning in her own hometown.
Katherine and I both had a good laugh about her travel story, and therefore I decided it would be a good idea to share it with you as a perfect example as to why we should stop focusing on what could go wrong, and instead focus on all that could go right.
Often times our imaginations lead us into dark negative places, in which we imagine the worst-case scenarios taking place. Sometimes the negative story we build up in our minds becomes so overgrown that we find ourselves paralyzed by fear. What is funny is that more often than not the “worst case scenario” does not wind up happening, but we do a whole lot of damage to ourselves panicking over it.
Despite the fact that most people hate negativity and negative thoughts, we as people seem to be attracted to negative thought patterns on a fairly regular basis. For example, although you may have had a great day, sometimes all it takes is one small thing to throw your day into a negative nose-dive causing you to feel hopeless or even depressed. Maybe you spilled coffee on your shirt, maybe you forgot to pick up the clothes at the Dry Cleaner and so on.
Negative thinking when it comes to future occurrences is even worse for most people particularly if there is some form of risk involved. The majority of people would prefer to sit in a comfort zone, no matter how miserable, than risk putting themselves out there because of all their negative thoughts of what could happen to them.
I once dated someone and we were very happy, in love, and our relationship was progressing to the point where we were contemplating our future. One day, seemingly out of the blue, he broke up with me. I could not fathom why this happened, but I was understandably devastated. I had emotionally risked a lot of myself and invested a great deal in our relationship, I felt completely blindsided by his decision to terminate a relationship that seemed to be going so well. A year later I received a phone call from this young man and I asked him because I believe I deserved to know why he had broken up with me. What he told me, I could never have expected. He told me “I broke up with you because I believed if our relationship kept progressing, if we got married and had children, that things would end disastrously as they did with my parents.” When I brought up the fact that our relationship was nothing like his parents’, and that we had been quite happy, he confessed he had a lot of fear and anxiety in all his previous relationships when they had gotten to the point of making a serious commitment because of what had occurred between his parents. A messy divorce and a lot of hurt feelings.
Focusing on what could go wrong curtails your progress as a human being and does not help you to achieve a satisfying life. How can you become successful at anything without taking a risk? The answer is you can’t.
Obviously some of us, like the boy I dated, have experienced traumas that have shaped us into focusing on what can go wrong. When you have experienced a trauma in whatever form, you understandably want to do whatever is humanly possible to avoid repeating it and experiencing the pain associated with it. However if you do not work through your trauma, and yes sometimes a good therapist is needed if you are really stuck, it can be used as a means to create a gap you will never be able to close between you and your goal.
While we cannot totally get rid of negative thoughts in life – if you find a way please let me know- we can choose how much time and attention we give to them. One of my favorite ways to build up my confidence and focus on what is going right, is to count my blessings. Anytime I am overpowered by a negative thought or thought process I simply sit there and name all the things that are currently going right for me. Such as “ I have the support and love of my wonderful family. I am in good health. I had a wonderful lunch with my good friend Cindy this week. I got a promotion at work that will enable me to finance my first home. Etc.”
There is no reason to focus undo attention on negative outcomes , my advice is to focus on what could go right. Getting yourself into a positive mind frame is much more likely to attract a positive outcome in a given circumstance. Good luck to all of you, and remember to focus on what could go right instead of focusing on what could go wrong. It will sure to make a big difference in your life!
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
In college I went through a bad breakup with whom I guess you could say was my first love.I had never experienced that kind of loss before, so it was sort of devastating. It look me a long time to get over it and ultimately it took me moving to a different city and falling in love with someone else to really heal and move on.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I truly appreciate my ability as an artist to express myself creatively, the arts have sustained me and fed me, clothed me, saved me so many times. It’s as if my talent and creativity is the one constant I can rely on as well as my family of course!
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
I recently had an art show of my paintings in New York City. It was amazing to see how people interacted with my work and placed their own experiences and ideas upon them. So much of my work as an artist is done in solitude, it is such a delightful cocoon to work in but it’s so rewarding to share the work with others. It’s like introducing your children, they are a piece of you, and you’re proud of them. It’s quite special.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I am like many women an over-thinker. I wish sometimes I could be a little more like a dude in that way. I wish I could sometimes just not think and enjoy more.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my hands. They are where my magic comes from. People always remarked that I carried my hands in a different way, expressed myself with them – I am half Italian. But my hands are also what helps me create, they are my tools.