Picture this: you have actually forgotten your worries for the moment and you are having a good time at dinner with your friends. Everyone is laughing, the conversation is fun, and the food is great.
Suddenly, without warning, one of your big stressors just pops into your mind. It’s a downer, but you try to forget about it for the moment ... after all, it will still be there in the morning.
It keeps coming back to plague you and before long you feel yourself on the downward spiral that you have experienced all too often. The mood and fun are gone and you have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you had successfully been avoiding for the last couple of hours.
Ain’t that the pits? I call these sudden bites of reality “pop-ups” because they seem to come out of nowhere.
It happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. Just last week I was in Louisville visiting a client. I have been there many times and have a couple of favorite restaurants.
I had decided to treat myself to a nice evening and went to one of those restaurants and ordered my favorite meal. As they brought the salad I suddenly thought about my wife’s illness and the stress that it is causing both of us.
My elevated mood took a dive and I found myself starting to obsess over the worry. I tried to force it out of my mind and was eventually successful, but what a fight it was! It tried to pop back in a few times during my meal but I was able to force it out.
Pop-ups make it very difficult to take even a short vacation from your worries. Here are a couple of things to think about when they happen to you:
1. It’s hard to force them out of your mind, but force them you must. Instead of trying to simply make them go away, REPLACE THEM by thinking about something more positive. Conjure up an image of a positive resolution of the problem, or of what your life would be like without that problem.
2. Realize that there is nothing you can do AT THAT VERY MOMENT to resolve the issue or to even significantly improve it. Tell yourself that you will deal with it the next day, and that you are going to allow yourself the luxury of a few worry-free hours.
3. Pop-ups tend to be more of a problem the more tired you are. If that is the case, do something that will relax you and take your mind off of your troubles. Think of that time as an investment that will pay dividends in a more relaxed and capable you.
What did I do after dinner in Louisville? I went back to my hotel room, took a long hot bath, got in bed, and watched three hours of Law and Order reruns! It was almost as delicious as my dinner, and when I awoke the next morning I had much more energy and was more able to deal with my worries.
Remember that it takes practice to get good at this, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you have some difficulties at first. It WILL get better.
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Edited by Jody Smith