This week’s conversation deals with a topic that’s been in the collective consciousness lately, an offshoot prompted by the sorrowful news of Robin Williams’ suicide last August. Which in and of itself is an example of something positive resulting from something tragic...but I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.
I’ve found that this subject of sadness, negative thoughts, depressive emotions particularly resonates with perfectionists and overachievers, which describes pretty much most of you, plus many (if not most!) of the people you associate with. (We do tend to hang with our own kind....)
Which is why I’m happy to introduce you to Andrea Kuszewski, a behavior therapist and research scientist who I like to call a “convention challenger.” Together, we talked about the benefit of negative emotions. It’s not as oxymoronic as it sounds once you hear some of the ways we can learn to reframe our negative thoughts and emotions in order to feel better. It’s like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the 21st Century. You’re going to want to watch this video more than once to really internalize the ideas, but here are just three “brain-reframing” strategies Andrea discusses:
- Talk to yourself. (Seriously!) Make it a little meditative session, as often as you need: Lie on the floor and say out loud all the negative things you’re hearing in your head (what Andrea calls, “the inner A-hole”). When you actually hear these “loser lines” spoken, they begin to sound ridiculous. Then follow up with saying your accomplishments and your strengths out loud. Slowly, this helps put things in a whole different perspective.
- Face your worst-case scenario with some fantasy. Andrea calls this “catastrophic thinking.” You know how you can obsess about something that could have a negative outcome (like, last week’s job interview or a promotion you put in for)—and how if it doesn’t go your way, your whole life will be ruined? Hold that thought and come up with two fantasy scenarios as a result of the worst happening (say, finding an even better job in an exciting city or starting your own business). Play out the scenarios, even think up more things you’ve always wanted to do. Suddenly, you realize good things can follow failures, that a negative outcome is not the end of the world.
- Come up with a list of your greatest hits. Create a folder, journal, or file filled with references to your past unexpected triumphs, remind yourself how you successfully resolved situations that hadn’t gone according to plan before. This is guaranteed to build resilience!
For more information on Andrea, go to her website: AndreaKuszewski.com.
Let me know what you think of the ideas in the video—as well as your own coping strategies. Post a comment here and let’s get a whole dialogue going, or email me at Stella@woopaah.com.