Why Bother? It’s Going To Be Crap Anyway
I went to my accountant today. Some of my regular blog readers may have suspected (especially given the topic of my last article) that things have been a little rough of late and I have to admit, as I was going up the elevator to see my accountant, there was a little voice in my head that said, ‘what’s the bet that you’re going to have to pay tax this year. What’s the bet that my accountant will look at me and say, Lawrence, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to pay up big this year! That will be just typical of what’s happening for me right now…’
And I have to say, I’m not alone in having a mindset like that. How many of us have had a few bad experiences and seemingly fall into this headspace where we just expect the worst to happen? It’s like we’re standing in that moment, using our imagination to time travel into the future, and experience in all the painful, difficult, uncomfortable ways how everything is going to pan out. I’m sure you’ve had that experience before; we all have. It’s just how our human mind likes to trick us.
Then we notice how that can impact our mood. We notice how we begin to talk to people. We fall into this ‘victim’ mindset where we begin to wonder why we would even do it because it’s just all going to be crap anyway.
“I can’t get my hair right… I don’t really want to go out after all!”
“Just my luck. I’ve had a bad day and now the microwave is broken… of course!”
It’s like we’re predicting all this bad stuff is meant to happen in our lives… we’re almost expecting it and willing it to happen. We may as well become prophets of our own misfortune as we seem more than capable of welcoming all these negative experiences to invade our world.
Does this sound familiar?
If it does, you’re not alone. When we tell ourselves these ‘truths’, we’re doing it in our own voice and so it becomes so much easier to take these thoughts and make them fact.
We then use our imagination to flesh them out. We play the scenario in our minds over and over again and it reinforces the belief to the point where we just don’t question it.
People with depression and anxiety are especially good at this little skill, using their imagination to come up with the worst possible scenarios and then making it so believable, it almost feels real NOW. They become trapped by their own negative expectancy, unaware that the ability to change has to come from seeing things in a new, different and positive way.
So how do we deal with this?
Firstly, we need to be able to take a moment to stop, breathe, and find acceptance for the situation that you’ve found yourself in. Doing this isn’t going to change the situation in any way; that is what it is. However, what it does do is to allow us to find the space to sit with that frustration or disappointment and to acknowledge that it is what is happening in that moment. You don’t have to like the situation. In fact, you can feel any of the emotions you wish to feel; frustration, anger, annoyance, overwhelmed, uncertain. However, you find acceptance for the things that you cannot change and in that moment of acceptance, you may find that the struggle you have with it becomes less. In that moment, you can just breathe, accept that things are what they are and then focus on what you want to do to make the best of the situation.
Next is to be aware of your thoughts. Your mind may want to tell you to get upset. Get mad. Chuck a hissy fit like a five-year-old would. Get on the floor, pounding it with your hands and feet and demand that this injustice is rectified. You could do that however I tend to wonder what result it would actually achieve? If you’re feeling frustration over something that is outside of your control, then this action, other than perhaps working through the emotion, is going to achieve little.
Imagine now that you’re doing that in front of your partner or friends. How do you think that is going to impact on their experience too? Do you think it is going to make it easier for them? They might be thinking, ‘ok, well, this has happened but perhaps we can do this instead?’
When we become aware of our thoughts and mindful to them, we can begin to acknowledge that our thoughts are simply thoughts. As real as they feel, they’re not always fact. We can choose to become increasingly difficult and add to the painfulness of the situation or we can choose to become aware of what we’re feeling and consider what behaviour is going to bring us closer to being the kind of person we want to be. The difficult situation really represents a choice point for you; to behave in a way that either takes you away from or closer to the kind of person you want to become.
But is my life that bad?
It’s time to have a bit of dose of reality here; when people tend to have a negative expectancy, they will, naturally, expect everything in life to go bad.
Now, this may occasionally have it’s advantages. If you’re making a business plan, you would want to consider the worst case scenario so that you can build something into the plan to work with that. In the same way that anger, as an emotion, can have a positive use and a negative use, so can expecting the worst.
On the flipside of that, imagine how dangerous it would be if you constantly expected everything to go right! What we’re looking for here is a healthy dose of both to keep things balanced.
Now, you might think you know what is going to happen tomorrow. You might have an educated guess. You might have had similar experiences before and think that it is going to be a carbon copy of that. However, it’s time to be real; you don’t know what tomorrow has in store. You don’t know what moments of joy and happiness may be hidden in the day. You may miss them if you’re too busy waiting on the negative moments to surface that you’re anticipating.
The reality is this, in one simple line;
You don’t know what is going to happen.
And the beauty of that is this; sometimes things turn out to be far better than what you would’ve ever expected.
Yes, we can agree that they may not too. They may turn out to be awful and I’m sure with your developed skill of making things a hundred times worse, it’s going to be truly torturous for you.
Or it could turn out to be nowhere as bad. Or even not bad. Or even good. Or even great. We just don’t know until we get there and experience it and try to be the best person we can be.
I wonder how many people get up in their expectations that things will just turn out bad? And really, what does that do for you? It doesn’t actually change what will happen but it sure makes it a hell of a lot more dramatic and painful for you. Call me crazy but I’d much rather save my drama for television shows like ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Home & Away’ – at least that way I can turn it off when it becomes all a bit too much. It also means that I can reserve my mental energy for when things actually don’t go as planned and I need a little acceptance or flexibility to deal with the situation at hand. Accept what you can’t change and change what you can; it’s an oldie but a goodie.
What does this have to do with hypnotherapy?
Funnily enough, quite a lot. You see, consider how much change is possible when you’ve already decided that any change, from a negative expectancy mindset, is going to be bad. You might have a resistance to change. You might think that change is bad and that there will be struggles ahead. Complete these sentences; ‘I’ll never lose weight because…’ or ‘I’ll never quit smoking because…’ Hello, negative expectancy!
Have you ever gone through an experience that seemed an inconvenience at the time but proved, in hindsight, to have been truly beneficial and perhaps even led you down a better track? We don’t know what we don’t know. We make assessments and find meaning based on past experiences and what kind of expectancy we have.
Hypnotherapy works with that expectancy and helps people to connect with a far more resourceful state that allows them to make change easily, painlessly and meaningfully. Change becomes easy when you know and believe that it is possible.
Coming back to the accountant
So there you go, from an extremely boring opening line about visiting the accountant to where we are now, I’ve had a timely reminder not to just to conclusions about how things will work out. As it turns out, my experience proved to be one of the highlights of the day and potentially going towards helping to cover some much-needed expenses. In that moment, I caught myself with my negative expectancy and reminded myself to keep an open mind, not be quick to determine how things will work out and let the universe do what it is going to do.