Ah, if only life were easy all the time. But, of course, it’s not and never will be. Some people, however, make things worse by responding to challenges with a predictably negative pattern.
Yes, we’re all creatures of habit but if we fail to reflect on alternative ways of responding, we get stuck with a limited repertoire of replies, which tends to make any situation worse.
Here are a few examples:
Responding with WORRY:
Anticipating the worst: “What if I mess up?”
Catastrophizing: “I’m so embarrassed; I could die!”
Minimizing your coping skills: “I’ll never be able to deal with this.”
Focusing on what will go wrong: “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Responding with CRITICISM:
Blaming: “How could you be so stupid?”
Finding Flaws: "I look so fat in this photo; it's disgusting!"
Detesting mistakes: “What an unforgivable flub!”
Viewing blunders as personal failures “I can never do anything right.”
Responding with HOPELESSNESS:
Predicting the worst: “Today’s terrible; tomorrow will be worse.”
Believing there’s no hope: “It’ll never get better; it’s all hopeless.”
Focusing on past mistakes: “If only I had done ….”
Viewing obstacles as insurmountable: “I can’t do it; I just can’t.”
All three of these approaches hinder your ability to think, to cope, to find a way to deal with the problem. They put a negative spin on the situation, curtailing your energy, deflating your self-esteem. Instead of making things easier, they invite you to torture yourself without any resolution.
So, if worry, criticism or hopelessness are your standard operating styles, you must not invite them to stay. When they show up at your door, take an active stance and shove them out the door.
Here are ways to do so:
We all need to master the above skills to help us get through tough situations. Without these skills, we get stuck in negative ruts, bringing ourselves down and taking as hostages those who live and work with us. There’s no fun in that; for you or for the others!