There seems to be a common theme in my clients recently, regardless of the presenting issue, they all have this incredible ability to predict the future. Now, the prediction isn’t accurate, but still they believe the garbage they think. For instance, one client took a leap that went from eating a cookie to becoming a homeless bag lady. How, you ask? Well, she is looking for another job as she knows that her company is about to be acquired by a bigger corporation. We have been working together on her weight issues. As a stress eater, she gave in to the siren call of a cookie, so now she knows she will never drop the weight and no one will ever hire her as a result of her perception of her appearance. (A skewed perception I might add as she is lovely.) Another client announced in our first visit that his life was doomed to be loveless as he and his wife were stuck in a rut and he had no way of recovering the love they once shared. Still another shared with me her prediction of divorce because her husband still smoked after she quit! So many negative thoughts!

The litany of doomsday projections goes on and on. To be truthful, I have done the same thing. I saw one particular health symptom as the evidence I needed to prove that something much darker was going on in my body. Fortunately, I took action and visited the appropriate health professional to find out that wikapedia is not my best friend! I fell into the same trap as my clients and went as fast as I could down the negative expressway.

Negative thoughts and events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones do. This is true for everyone, not just one or two depressed individual, but everyone! The reasons behind this include the fact that negative events pose a chance of danger. The brain is scanning for threats in order to keep us safe.  Add to this fact the constant barrage of negativity in the media and you have the perfect storm.

So, what is a person to do? To begin with, recognize when you are headed down the rabbit hole. When you first notice you are in the negative future, you want to remind yourself to stop. Literally, think STOP! If you are someplace where it is safe to do so, yell STOP! Then you want to shift focus. Feel your feet on the floor, after all the feet are the farthest part of your body from the brain.  Begin to use mindfulness as a way of undoing that negative thought cycle. Remind yourself that your thoughts are not facts. You are not controlled by your thoughts. Have you ever thought about going for a walk and then changed your mind because you didn’t want to go out in the cold? Well, you can do the same with the cold dark thoughts of doom and gloom.

Get in touch with your breath. By shifting your focus to your breath, you can practice deep breathing and feel yourself breathe in comfort and exhale worries. Just by taking those deep breathes you are causing the body and mind to relax. Then you can notice where in your body you have been feeling the sensations of those previous nasty thoughts. Breathe into that part of your body and release those thoughts and the sensations they created.

Begin to question what might be a better way of caring for you. Can you reframe the negative thought? Chunk it down? Is there an action you should be taking in order to resolve the issue? Is there a lesson to be learned? Always returning to your breath, be aware of how your body responds to your thought process.

I recently worked with a client who found that much of her stress was related not as much to the situation as to her concern about what her co-workers thought. We discussed the premise of “what others think about me is none of my business”. Others opinions are based on their fears, worries and concerns, nothing more than their own thoughts. In trance work she became an observer, much like an anthropologist, noticing without participating. She watched her co-workers with detachment.  She has reported back to me that her work life is much less stressful now.

Remember that things don’t always live up to our expectations. This is just as true of the bad as the good. If you just allow things to unfold naturally, there is often a good surprise waiting for you.