By Dr. Nancy Buck
It’s a bad break. Something has gone wrong in your life, not what you wanted. And if that isn’t bad enough, what too many of us do making things even worse is imagine all the additional bad things that might follow:
- You bounced a check. This will probably be followed by even more bounced checks. Now not only are you going to have to pay more bank fees, but now your credit rating is going to suffer and your ability to make your planned future big purchase will be in jeopardy! (Please note, these thoughts written in italics are only the story you’re making up in your head.)
- Your child has received a bad grade in school. Oh no, if she isn’t doing well in this class now, what will happen when she moves onto the next higher grade level? Is she always going to be an underperformer? Maybe it’s even worse. Maybe she just can’t learn this subject. (See above for thoughts in italics.)
- You’ve missed the bus home. Just great. Now you will probably miss your train connection so you may not even make it home. Okay, you can call your spouse to come pick you up. But what if s/he’s gone to a meeting and you can’t reach him/her? Will you be stranded and stuck for hours? Maybe you should call him/her now. But you really don’t want to hear the complaining and nagging about your being late again, blah, blah, blah.
Sometimes bad and inconvenient things happen in our lives. But do you make it worse by imagining all the next bad things that will happen? And who says these things will happen? They might happen!
Here’s my solution for improving mental health and happiness when you find yourself imagining the worst:
See yourself on the Candy Land board of your life. Ask yourself:
What color square am I presently on? The red? Am I worrying about what might happen on the gold square? Too soon. If I’m on the red square, I only need to know about the red square and the purple one to come. Once I’m on the purple square I get to learn all about the troubles and details of the purple square and some about the yellow square that’s next.
Get the idea? If life isn’t great in the moment, try to avoid making it worse by worrying about something that might or might not happen two or three squares from now.
Who knows, you might just land on a green and go up the rainbow trail avoiding all the potential perils you’re presently worrying about!