Nothing Is As Certain As Change

The one certainty in life, apart from death, is that circumstances always change. Of course, that is often what makes people anxious, as they can't rely on things staying the same. The company we work for may be taken over; our children may take to drugs; global warming may change the planet; there could be major war. But we can also turn the fact that things change to our advantage. It means that setbacks can be seen as temporary instead of permanent. Good times will follow bad and, when bad things happen again (as they will), we know they will not last. There is a wonderfully simple means for creating the expectation of positive change. All you do is use words and phrases that put a time limit on whatever undesirable set of circumstances are in place right now. For instance, instead of thinking, "I'll never have a relationship that works!", try "I haven't met the right person yet." The difference in emphasis is life-changing. In the first thought, no possibility is allowed that a future relationship might be different; every relationship will fail. In the second thought, there is a clear expectation that it is possible to meet a person with whom a happy relationship can be developed. The door is closed only on the past, unhappy ones.

Exercise

Consider the following and then try coming up with some for yourself, whenever a negative old favourite pops into mind.

"I get anxious in supermarkets." 

"Till now, I've been anxious in supermarkets." 

 

"All my relationships fail." 

My previous relationships were unsatisfactory."

 

"I wish I could give up smoking but I never can." 

"I've reached the point where I want to give up smoking." '

 

"I'll never get over his going off with another woman. "

"I'm really hurting at the moment." "There's no way out." "I haven't found the best way of dealing with this yet."

These are not word tricks. They actually refocus the brain away from the unrealistic emotional thoughts that shackle you and prevent you from seeing opportunities for creative problem solving.

Set the record straight

A common cry from children is "It's just not fair!" They have a strong sense of injustice and may feel incensed if a teacher wrongly accuses them of being the one to have yelled out in class, thrown a paper dart or started a fight. If they don't feel able to speak up or their protests are rejected, they may corne to feel badly about themselves. If they are persistently overruled or cannot shake off a reputation as a troublemaker that they perceive as unjust, they may learn a sense of helplessness or passivity that persists into adulthood. As adults, too, being wrongly accused or unfairly put down can sap our confidence and reduce our trust in others.

So it is useful to develop the habit of setting the record straight whenever possible, if unwarranted criticisms or angry remarks are made to you. For instance, without thinking, a boss might fume, "Oh, haven't you even finished that piece of work yet?" (Subtext: "You are so slow.") Instead of squirming in silence and feeling put down, try speaking up, not to excuse but to explain: "I had to stop to deal with such-and such a crisis, but I'm nearly there now".

It doesn't matter whether your explanation is accepted or even acknowledged. By standing up firmly for yourself, but without being rude, you can't help but feel better about yourself.

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