What?! Of course you don't! But if you look a little deeper, that’s what we often do when we think about the future. We rehearse the story in our minds of how stressful or unmanageable something or someone was in the past and will be in the future. By retelling this story, we think we’ll protect ourselves from actually repeating it, but in fact, we lock ourselves into an negative expectation and a reaction we already regret. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day, all over again! But, to paraphrase Byron Katie, do we absolutely know these stressful situations will be exactly the way they were before? And do we really need to waste any more energy anticipating a struggle?
But help is on the way! What if we could plan a better outcome for everyone concerned, and start bringing it into our reality right now? Instead of planning to be overwhelmed by work demands, family expectations, upcoming holiday obligations, the constant pressure to keep up, what if we envisioned ourselves responding to events at our finest? Here's how to make the switch: Work backwards! Once you’ve chosen the way you'd like to respond, fire up those neurons, engage your imagination, and see yourself acting the way you’d like to act. Cool, calm, collected. See it, hear it, taste it - use all your senses. Remember, the mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s vividly imagined. So use that to your advantage and choose a new outcome to an old situation.
Nina Lockwood, MSW, HTCP, is a healer, teacher and coach.