Recently, I walked into my therapist’s office (yes, therapists have their own therapists), and said, I am sucking at life right now. She laughed, which is her common response to the ridiculous things that often come out of my mouth, and said, ok, tell me about it. We then spent the hour looking at the different areas where I felt I was failing miserably. Truth be told, I wasn’t magically transformed into feeling like a winner by the end of the session, but I did walk away with a better perspective that helped me challenge the idea that I was sucking so badly.
Have you ever had one of those days or weeks were it felt like every where you turned or put your attention, you were basically met with a response that said, you suck!? It’s an awful feeling, one I don’t recommend, but it happens and when it feels like everything is going to hell in a hand basket, there is something to keep in mind. Perhaps there’s a problem with your thinking.
The principle of confirmation bias, also known as seek and you shall find, is a very powerful type of thinking. It is the tendency to search, interpret or recall information in a way that confirms our beliefs, and when it is activated, we mistake or overlook data contrary to our current belief system. Think your spouse was raised by wolves when it comes to picking up after themselves? You will see examples of where this is true time and again, but simultaneously, you will also miss or not see when they clear the dishes or put the laundry away.
When we hit a bump in the road, most of us, at least those who aren’t drowning in pessimism, can bounce back and tell ourselves, wow, I can’t believe that jerk took my parking spot, thank goodness I still made the train. When it begins to feel like the bumps in the road are coming at you like black diamond moguls, that self talk doesn’t always do the trick. It may be that a few things start to build up like, missing the train, a terse conversation with your teenager, forgetting to pay the cable bill and the dry cleaner losing your favorite sweater. All of a sudden, it seems you can’t catch a break, and it begins to get harder and harder to keep your chin up or see data that indicates anything other than this is going to be a really shitty day.
Things often go wrong, sometimes many things go wrong, but rarely is EVERYTHING wrong. Perhaps what you are missing amidst the fog of your biased brain is that you made the green light at the intersection, your partner sent you a funny text, and not only did you remember to pack your lunch, but you also brought it with you. (Insert fist pump!) These are definitely not parade-worthy events, but they are small triumphs we can acknowledge during the times it seems like we are sucking at life and say, ok, I’m not entirely useless today. It takes just a moment to ask yourself, what is going right today? Or, what do I need to focus on to challenge this negative belief? Changing our thinking takes practice, and doesn’t always come easy. Like any skill though, it can be learned and the more you deliberately try to look at all the pieces of the puzzle, the easier it gets. Hopefully, with continued practice, this skill gives you a little more energy to keep that chin up and stop sucking so badly!
To be continued…