What Am I Doing Wrong?

Mark asked me, “Why do I keep going back to the same self defeating thoughts and actions? The more I push my negative thoughts away, the more they seem to show up and it causes lots of stress. What am I doing wrong?” Actually, there is nothing wrong with Mark. We all have thoughts; negative and positive thoughts. Generating thoughts is a condition of being human, and it is good to be human. Being in a new place with stress is the key.

Here is an exercise we used to bring Mark to a new place with his stress.

  1. Get a blank piece of paper.
  2. Draw an oval in the center. Write the situation that is causing stress in the oval.
  3. Outside the oval, write down all of the thoughts you have about the situation. This could take a while to brain dump.
  4. When finished writing, notice the body sensations that you felt around each thought. They may have manifested themselves as a headache, stomach or neck tension. Did you notice racing and spinning thoughts? Ask yourself how you react when you are in this frame of mind.
  5. Now take a new sheet of paper, draw your oval and write the same situation in the center of the oval. Don’t write anything on the outside yet!
  6. Pick up a pen and notice the detail of that pen―the way it feels, its texture, the color, the written words on the shaft. Really notice the things you never noticed before.
  7. Now write the thoughts that come to your mind about the situation on the outside of your oval.
  8. Notice where your body tension is now, your spinning thoughts and how you think differently about the situation now.

The cool thing is that the thoughts don’t go away, but the emotion attached to them is discharged. By doing this exercise, the physical reaction is lessened; enabling you to act with greater focus and purpose.

This exercise is designed from a new training program, StressLess Workshops, that Now & Next is being certified in. Look for group and corporate training with StressLess in your area, or contact me (513.785.0673) if you want to talk about your stress.