I have a confession to make. And it might surprise you. My brain loves obsessing about ridiculous stuff. My brain loves to worry, wander, and ruminate. It loves finding tiny, unimportant things to fixate on. It thinks stressing over small stuff is an Olympic sport. (And it’s coming for you, Michael Phelps!) When I let my brain go on autopilot, it’s rough. My thoughts can quickly get away from me. Before I know it, I’ve spent twenty minutes and tons of energy stressing about something small. Which is why I work very hard to stop stress in it’s tracks.
People are often surprised to know that I use all the same skills I teach my clients. And I use them a lot. The human brain is wired to focus on the negative. It thinks it’s helpful to stress and worry. This fixation on small stuff is an evolutionary adaptive skill gone haywire. If your brain love to stress about small stuff, join the club.
However, just because your brain loves to stress and worry, doesn’t mean you have to let it run the show. You can stop stress in it’s tracks by changing the way you think. I’ve got a whole arsenal of coping statements to help me in times of stress. Lately though, I’ve got a new one. You ready? Here we go.
I’m choosing not to spend energy on this.
Go ahead; reread that, please. This time slower. I’m choosing not to spend energy on this. This phrase speaks to the idea that we have a limited amount of time and energy in our lives. Sure, you can continue to stress about the interaction you had with a coworker, but is that really how you want to spend your energy? Of course you can worry about results of an upcoming test, but I’m not sure it will accomplish anything. If we don’t choose where to direct (and redirect) our thoughts, they will run wild. And wild rarely leads to a good place.
You’re annoyed because a friend asked for your advice and then ended up doing the complete opposite. You can’t stop thinking about how little sense that makes. I’m choosing not to spend energy on this.
You’ve been selected to host the family holiday this year. You’re worried about Aunt Karen and your mother in law getting along. I’m choosing not to spend energy on this.
You can’t figure out why you weren’t invited to the recent social event. Was it something you said? I’m choosing not to spend energy on this.
In moments when your brain wants to stress about stuff that’s unproductive, redirect your thoughts using this phrase. You will have to repeat it over and over. The stress will want to come back and take over. (Bonus points if you take a mindful breath before and after using the phrase. It will help it sink in even more.)
Remember, our thoughts can take us off a stress cliff real quick. But we can train our brains to think differently, redirecting our thoughts when they get stuck on something. This phrase has been a gamechanger for me in the past several months. It’s helped stop stress in it’s tracks, leaving more energy for stuff that really matters.
What you can use this phrase about today?
PS: I’m a firm believer that healthy people talk to to themselves. See why here.