A few months ago, I had a very enlightening moment of self-awareness. I observed this preceding thought pattern of mine in response to feelings of overwhelm, concern, and dread. When I feel these feelings, it has become a knee-jerk reaction of mine to express some kind of reactive and restrictive thought that starts with “the problem is…”
The problem is…
- I don’t know how to fix this
- Now, I won’t be able to…
- I don’t have time to deal with this…
- There is too much to do…
- Now, I am going to be late…
- You never told me…
Notice how the content of the situation that I am reacting to doesn’t really matter. What is significant is that when thinking “the problem is” I get pulled down a rabbit hole of negation statements (to focus on what wasn’t, isn’t, and can’t be) as opposed to affirmation statements (to focus on what was, is, and can be).
Technically speaking, “there is too much to do” and “now, I am going to be late” are affirmations because they are “focusing on what is”; however, in application, both statements are actually having me focus on what I DON’T want to focus on. In the short term, my mental imagery and feelings are filtering only restrictive and undesirable realities. In the medium term, this habit of language influences the stories I internalize about myself. And, in the long term, these stories end up shaping my reality by systematically editing out anything that doesn’t fit.
For example, imagine you are asked to look around your surroundings and find as many things that are red as you can in 30 seconds. Subsequently, you are told to close your eyes and recall all the things that were blue. Even though there was likely to have been, at least, one blue thing to recall, your ability to do so would be extremely compromised because your attention was selectively filtering for red items, meaning it ignored anything else that did not fit into this category.
This is what it means to have internal stories that tell not THE truth but A truth. A truth that has been predicated and predicated on how your mind anticipates, responds to, and interprets situations. In my example, I was cementing A truth of chronic misfortune, stress, and anxious energy.
However, once I became aware of this thought pattern, I was empowered to use this level of INSIGHT to self-regulate . I have since formulated and cued up “the opportunity is” as a beneficial self-regulatory replacement for “the problem is”
The opportunity is
- To be grateful that I am EQUIPPED to deal with this
- To practice resilience and exercise seeing this with an infinite mindset
- To be patient and self-compassionate.
- To learn something new.
- To ACT AS IF I can handle this.
- To be of service.
Call to Action: Reflect on what preceding thought patterns like “the problem is” may be influencing a reality of what you don’t want and would rather avoid.