By Brad Beckstrom
Everybody’s got stuff. Not the stuff you might be thinking, like knickknacks, or closets full of junk. I’m talking about the stuff in your head. It’s something we all have. Those thoughts and worries that creep in. They can keep you up at night or distract you during the day. This stuff is not unique to people based on age, race, marital status, or station in life. In fact, it can be argued that the healthy and the wealthy often have even more of this stuff. As rapper notorious B.I.G. famously said “Mo Money = Mo Problems.” He had them both, and he was dead at 25.
Sometimes I’ll be on a great walk listening to a podcast or an audiobook and find that I missed entire parts of it as my mind wanders off and goes to this “stuff.” Sometimes other people’s stuff creeps into my head. Things I have absolutely no control over, but there they are, pissing me off.
One thing that makes me feel better is understanding that everybody has this stuff in their head, worrying about a family member, their health, some work-related issue, or something that popped up in a random tweet. You know the feeling, “WTF, that can’t be true, how can they do that! Let me see that link, let’s dive in so we can worry more about this.”
Years ago I learned something very valuable, I think it was on some Tony Robbins CD. It’s called a pattern interrupt. For example, let’s say you’re on an elevator alone thinking about something, two people step onto the elevator and instead of facing the door they turn to face you directly. Whatever you were thinking about is pretty much gone and now you’re staring these two strangers directly in the face. Your brain is waiting for instructions for the next step but your thought pattern has been completely interrupted. I use my own pattern interrupts all the time. If I don’t like where a conversation is going, I redirect it with a completely out of context, comment, or interesting fact. This is very effective with children, coworkers, or executives prone to temper tantrums.
Once you get pretty good at pattern interrupts, you’ll find that you can redirect your own thoughts, squashing a negative thought and sweeping it out with a positive one. If you can do this regularly by creating a habit that allows you to redirect your thoughts in an instant.
This is where being grateful comes into the picture. If I’m laying in bed or sitting around, worried about something, I simply think about three things I’m grateful for. I’ve made this a habit and I use it all the time. Here’s the hitch, you can’t just keep saying the same three things every time. Challenge yourself to come up with three new things you’re thankful for every time you find yourself worrying about stuff.
If you make this a daily habit, you may find yourself doing it at least a couple times per day, so something as simple as a cold glass of ice water can fill that slot. So, next time that worry stuff creeps into your head, just sweep it out with three simple things you are thankful for. You’ll find yourself a lot less worried and a lot more grateful.