shit happens

When was the last time you got upset about something that didn’t go how you wanted?

Was it…

… an awkward situation at work?

… a painful conversation with your ex?

… when you last looked at your bank balance?

… your car breaking down?

… getting caught in ‘bad’ weather?

… about your health?

… something else?

What did you tell yourself?

This is just awful? Why me? I could do without this? Typical!?

How did you react?

Annoyance? Tears? Shouting? Swearing? Tensing up? Hitting, kicking or throwing something? Or did you internalize it; push it down?

How did it feel inside?

Lumpy? Jaggedy? Out of balance?

In this post I’m going to teach you a technique that I learned in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy that will dramatically reduce the pain in your life.

Now, it won’t change what HAPPENS to you, but it will change how you FEEL about it and, frankly, that’s what counts because we all just wanna feel good, right?

Listen, we all know that sh*t happens, that’s just life.

It’s how you think about and react to these apparently sh*t events that shape your reality, and therefore how you FEEL. (And we just want to feel GOOD!)

Here’s an example: I was driving along on my moped yesterday morning and it started to rain. My initial thought was, “Oh no, I’m gonna get wet, what a nuisance!” My physical response to it was to tense up my shoulders and screw up my face, like in some way, that would help to prevent me getting wet – haha!

Because of this, I started to feel a bit annoyed.

Yes, really! Here I was, mid-morning, driving along with a friend to have breakfast in my favourite coffee shop in Thailand, and I was feeling ANNOYED because it started to rain a bit!

It went:

EVENT (Rain) -> THOUGHT (Oh, no!) -> REACTION (Tense up) -> FEELING (Annoyed)

I couldn’t change the EVENT, but I could change my THOUGHTS about and therefore my REACTION to the event, which in turn would change how I FEEL.

So, here’s what I did:

I changed what I told myself about it. Instead of “Oh, no, I’m gonna get wet, what a nuisance!” I told myself, “Relax! It’s just a bit of rain! The bike could do with a good wash, anyway. And in this heat I’ll dry out in no time.”

My shoulders dropped and my face unscrewed itself.

And you know what? I felt BETTER! I smiled, partly because I saw the folly and ridiculousness of my skewed thinking, and partly because I realised just how easy it was to turn this situation around.

Some people call it “looking on the bright side” and psychologists call it “reframing” – it’s the same thing, and it’s incredibly effective at reducing misery!

Here’s the technique for the next time you find yourself annoyed:

  1. Recognise your thoughts about the situation and change them to something more helpful
  2. Notice how you’re physically reacting and be aware of how this changes when you change your thoughts
  3. Become aware of how you FEEL.

Of course it’s much easier to change your thoughts about a minor situation like a bit of rain to, say, divorce or bankruptcy or serious illness because these events are more life-changing, but the technique remains exactly the same.

If you’re finding how you feel about a situation is ruining your day/life then this technique will help you.

Now, that’s not to say it isn’t healthy to get emotion off your chest – of course it is, otherwise it gets stuck and you get ill – but how can we do this in a healthy way?

Here’s my blog post explaining how to deal with our emotions without bottling them up or turning into a drunken football hooligan.

Seriously, check out here how to deal with emotions healthily, it’ll make a huge difference to your life.

Got a life conundrum you want to make sense of so you can move forward? Let me help you with that.