We all have moments of anxiety, frustration and angst. But did you ever notice that all those situations have one thing in common? You. Whether you’re wrapped around the axle floundering on a work project or stewing about a personal problem, the dominant element in most frustrations is you and your thoughts.
It’s easy to think that it’s other people who are driving you crazy, but in reality, it’s your reaction to other people that causes the angst. Sometimes we don’t even need other people. We can work ourselves up into a lather over our own messes.
For example, I spent the better part of last week struggling to complete the copy for our new website. Actually the word “struggle” implies a bit more effort than I was applying. A more accurate statement would be I alternated between procrastinating and floundering, growing more frustrated with myself and my self-imposed deadline by the minute.
If you’re feeling frustrated with a situation, sometimes it’s better to put it aside. When you interrupt your pattern of behavior or your pattern of thinking, it gives you the chance to disengage so that you can come back to the issue with fresh eyes.
Here are five ways to help you get over yourself and reset your brain:
• Watch a Ted Talk – There’s a great AA expression “Your best thinking got you here.” Watching an inspiring Ted talk gives you access to some of the best thinking in the world, which is exactly what you need to counteract your own not so helpful thoughts. Full disclosure – It’s 14 minutes but you usually feel better after the first five. It doesn’t have to be anything related to your problem. Watch Melinda Gates discuss birth control or Simon Sinek Find The Why, and you’ll immediately feel smarter and more powerful.
• Do some really hard sweaty exercise – Something so hard you can’t think about anything else but how miserable you are. It will give you a serotonin boost that will help ignite more creative thoughts when you return to whatever it was that sent you running. When I do Bikram Yoga in a hot room, I turn into such a sweaty mess, I not only forget my problems, I forget my name.
• Listen to music from high school – Ideally in the car with the windows rolled down. Classical music may calm you, but high school music will make you feel invincible. Whether it’s AC/DC, the Beatles or early Madonna, sing it at the top of your lungs, and you’ll be ready to take on the world. ABBA never fails to remind me that I’m “Young and sweet only 17, the Dancing Queen.”
• Think about something horrible – that happened to someone else. No matter what is going on with you, it probably pales in comparison to someone else’s problems. Thinking about your neighbor who has cancer or the guy who got stuck in the rocks and had to cut off his own arm will remind you that you still have it pretty good.
• Practice gratitude – If you really want to get over yourself once and for all, practice daily (or hourly) gratitude. Make a list of all the things you’re thankful for and put it on your bulletin board or text it to yourself and read it whenever you feel angst.
Push the reset on your brain. Your life thanks you.