A few weeks ago I talked about thought patterns and locations – how I noticed certain thoughts reoccurring in the same places and times, and that the kitchen was where most of my negative thoughts tended to gather.
I display different words, phrases, or questions on my fridge (because it’s in the kitchen) to give my mind some direction. This week, I wrote one that has been making a big difference:
“What if it didn’t matter?” is a powerful question when you’re dwelling on a past upset. The simple act of reading this question is enough to interrupt the pattern and make you consider – is this really a big deal? What would it be like if this thing I’m hung up on ultimately did not affect how I feel about life?
And here’s the thing – you don’t even have to put any effort into this, other than displaying the question somewhere. Just hang it somewhere that you’ll see it often. If you’ve noticed a particular place where your negative thoughts gather the most frequently, hang it there. When you see the question, you don’t have to deliberately think of an answer. Your subconscious will already be doing that for you, and you might find yourself relaxing a bit, effortlessly. Open-ended questions like this spark the imagination.
Some variants you could write and display: “What if this doesn’t matter very much?” “What if this didn’t matter to me?” “What if I let this go?” “What if this thought let go of me?” “What if I were relaxed right now?” “What if I felt differently?” “What if this was a good thing?” “What if I knew exactly how to handle this?” Play around with some ‘what if’ questions and discover what works for you. Stick ’em on your fridge, in your car, in a notebook, as your cell phone lock screen image, anywhere you want. The formula is to lead your mind to how you want to feel. So if you want to feel happier – “What if I felt happy right now?” Of course, you don’t have to stick to ‘what if’ questions. Another good direction is “How can I feel happy right now?” “What makes me happy?” Asking ‘how’ questions will get your brain moving toward practical solutions. Other good ones: “What am I grateful for?” or “What am I grateful for in this situation?” The latter question helps you reframe whatever you’re already thinking about.
Can you come up with any of your own questions that open the mind to possibilities? Write them in the comments section.
Thanks for reading! Coming up next week: I’m going to talk about the movie “Inside Out” and the value of sadness. Stay tuned.