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  • Writer's pictureAlex Planidin

The thing and the thinking about the thing

Here's a simple and very powerful exercise to try.

It's perfectly possible to do it alone, but not always easy.

What's a stressful thought that's bothering you at the moment? Or one that keeps rearing its head every now and then? Maybe start with something fairly trivial.

Write it down. 

What happened/didn't happen? 

Who's involved? What about it is stressful? 

Here's one I've been through recently:

The thing

The thinking about the thing

My prospective client has not replied to my text for two days

• Has he changed his mind?

• If I follow up again I'll look bad

• Maybe he's looking elsewhere

• Maybe he's not serious

• Maybe he's lost his phone

• Maybe I wasn't clear in my last communication

• Maybe I did something to offend him?

• Maybe I celebrated too soon?

• Maybe I should wait

• Maybe I shouldn't wait

• What if he decides to work with someone else?

• Maybe I was imagining that powerful exchange we had

• Maybe he wasn't being sincere 

The one on the left actually happened. The rest was just my imagination, and not very useful at all. 

A clear example of misusing my imagination. Fortunately, for some of this time, I could watch these thoughts with amusement. They just keep coming! But I don't have to believe them. 

After three days my prospective client replied confirming he'd made the payment, so all that worry was unnecessary.

Now it's your turn. 

Choose a situation - just the facts - and write it in Column A under The Thing. Then write down your Thinking about the Thing in Column B.

It might help you see what your focus is on and perhaps you'll see that you are free to focus on something else instead.

Let me know how you get on!

And if you'd like some help unraveling a neutral situation from the stressful thinking around it, send me a DM and we'll have a look together.

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