So you're waiting in the hallway with your mind spinning about how it's been a pretty crappy day and life just doesn't seem to be moving in the direction you'd like it to. You're friend walks by you and although you raise your hand to wave hi, she looks at you and just walks by.
Take a moment to sense what happened in your mind before reading any further.
Various thoughts may have arisen in connection with uncomfortable emotions:
- "What did I do wrong?"
- "I'm worthless."
- "I knew it, nobody likes me."
- "What the hell is wrong with her?"
- "What's the point, really."
OK ... now let's say you're boss just told you what a fantastic job you've done and how she's going to give you a 15 percent raise and an extra week vacation. This is great news ... as your mind is spinning around all the ways this will enhance your life, your friend walks by and as you raise your hand to say hi, she just walks by.
Now what comes up in your mind?
Many people might have an alternative viewpoint here.
- "I wonder what's wrong with her."
- "I hope she's ok."
- "Maybe she didn't see me."
The bottom line: Thoughts simply aren't facts, they are mental events that pop up in the mind and are dependent on our mood. In this case, dependent on the precipitating event that led to the mood of feeling depressed versus excited.
Next time your mind jumps to a conclusion that inevitably sends in you in a spiral toward depression or anxiety, check to see where your head was at the time of that interpretation. What just occurred prior? There may be some clues as to why the interpretation was made that way.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Adapted from a publication on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy at Psychcentral.com. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is Co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. You may also find him at www.elishagoldstein.com.