If you were to decide to go on a diet, you may decide as a first step to stop eating that delicious double fudge cake that you enjoy so much. An excellent decision for the goal you wish to achieve. However, you now have to resist the thought of that delicious double fudge cake. Resisting it will keep the cake on your mind. A problem.
Why would resisting a desire keep it on your mind? Here’s an illustration to make this clear. Stop and imagine for a moment that a stranger came up to you and gave you a device that can monitor one thought in your head. That thought is whether or not you are thinking about a ‘pink elephant’. (strange, I know.)
Then he says, “I will give you $1000 if you DON’T think of a pink elephant for exactly 24 hours and this device will let me know if you did or not.”
Suddenly, something that you may never have thought about before in your life. Namely, a pink elephant. Becomes ALL you can think about for the next 24 hours.
In other words, a mistake that many people make when attempting to manage stress is to – RESIST- what they don’t want! Resisting an idea focuses your mind on that idea like a crab holding on to its prey.
Focus instead on what you do want to achieve rather than what you want to resist.
Yes, those pink elephants can be hard to keep off your mind, unless you choose to focus instead on how beautiful the ancient ‘Bird of Paradise’ must be. Then create the image of the most beautiful bird you can imagine. What pink elephants?:-)
Being enthusiastic about a project naturally enables you to focus. But what can be done about jobs you are less excited about?
The first thing to do when faced with an unpleasant, maybe even stressful, task is to change your point of view.
Everything has a positive aspect to it, so spend a few moments and look for that silver lining. To make an unpleasant job a little more palatable, build in a few treats along the way. When you find your thoughts starting to drift, remind yourself of the final reward at the end of a job well done.
Distractions are inevitable; the goal is to develop your ability to cope with a distraction and get back on track. When you notice you thoughts start to drift or you are interrupted, order your mind to STOP; then gently bring your mind back to where it should be. The key word here is gently, trying to force yourself to concentrate only increases resistance.
Allow specific times for your mind to wander or worry. With time set aside to worry or day-dream, stray thoughts are less likely to force themselves into your focus time. Making a note of worrisome thoughts and putting them aside for later will sometimes help.
Remember, your mind is an extremely powerful tool. It can be your worst enemy or best friend. How you choose to focus your mind is the key to handling those pink elephants.
By Abbas Abedi
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