I made a wrong turn on my way to teach at an unfamiliar location. First, you have to deal with the irrational thinking: Don’t panic. You are early. You have time to turn around and get back on track. And what if you were late? Is that a catastrophe? Is it life or death? No seriously. Will anyone die if I’m late? No. Of course not. So it’s not a catastrophe; it’s an inconvenience. My GPS will get me back where I need to be. And hey, (here’s the second part of this optimistic thinking job ) isn’t it great that GPS is so available these days? Right here on my cellphone. I remember how much stress getting lost cost me back in the way back, before I had that. It’s nice to be able to let that particular stresser go. And look, there’s one of my favorite restaurants. Now I know where I can go for lunch in this unfamiliar city. How cool is that? Oh, what’s that? A restaurant with “all organic Japanese salads ” What is that?” I’ve never eaten any place like that before. Maybe I’ll try that for lunch. Trying new things makes me feel pretty good -I like adventures. It’s a good thing I took that wrong turn back there.
Yes, I really think that way. No, it does not come naturally. Does it for some people? I can’t help but think so. In fact, I tend to feel thus kind of optimistic thinking comes naturally for almost everyone else but me. That statement has some key words in it that makes me think I may have some irrational thinking in that area, but that’s a job for another day. Right now, the important thing for me to is to carefully practice my optimistic thinking. Two things happened there just now. First, I avoided the downward spiral my PTSD wanted to toss me into that was going to start with panicking over getting lost, and spiral into unfounded conclusions like, “I’m going to get fired!” and probably shoot off from there into doubt of my self worth. Second, I practiced the habit of looking for aspects of my situation that might actually be positive. That’s really, really hard. If it sounded a little forced there, especially at the beginning, it’s because it WAS. You don’t start off naturally brushing your teeth regularly without someone, you, mom, your girlfriend -working on it. Reinforcing the habit. And until it becomes a habit, it doesn’t feel natural. Ever tried to diet? You have to consciously practice those good eating habits. It doesn’t just magically happen. For some reason, people don’t realize you can apply the same principles to you thoughts. You can consciously practice optimistic thinking. Until it becomes a habit.
I can’t wait to find out what an organic, Japanese salad tastes like.