“If you focus on the worst-case scenario and it happens, you’ve lived it twice.” ~ Michael J. Fox
I think we all know someone (finger pointing at self!) who might occasionally follow the ‘worst-case scenario’ path in their head. Instead of thinking of the range of possibilities, they put a negative interpretation on a tough situation they’re facing.
In her book, Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life, Gail Blanke explains in order to clear out our mental clutter, we need to let go of thinking the worst. Many people will combine a fact with their misinterpretation, and before you know it, it’s ‘the truth’ and engrained as their reality. Oftentimes, we exhaust ourselves thinking of scenarios that will never occur.
But what’s at the core of imaging the worst? In a nutshell, it’s this phrase—you’re not good enough. So when you don’t get the job, the deal or the promotion, you take that fact, put your spin on it and remix it to become your truth. This is when a great deal of soul-searching is needed. Look at your past interpretation of a particular event that ended negatively for you. Then look beyond that event to see if you created a pattern of sabotaged thinking for yourself. Once you stop believing that you are good enough just as you, and start believing the lies your false reality speaks to you, you drain yourself of powerful energy that could be used to reach your objectives.
Instead, Gail emphasizes that when an event or fact causes your mind to spiral into a place that’s negative and non-productive, take a deep breath and ask yourself, ‘What am I committed to?’ Leading a purpose-filled life will help you answer this question. Then, change your interpretation so it helps you accomplish your goal. It’s remarkable how changing one piece of an equation will completely change its outcome. Or as Albert Einstein once stated, ‘Ultimately, there are no facts.’
But what if the worst-case scenario does happen? Well, that’s life. You don’t always get what you want. Overall, things work out much more frequently than they don’t work out! If you learn to assign a positive interpretation to a situation, in the end you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want. Make up interpretations that move you toward the life you desire, not those that keep you mired in the past.
Gail recommends a few steps for getting rid of negative interpretations: 1) List a few major events you experienced in the past year; 2) Write down your interpretations of those events, and indicate whether or not your interpretations were accurate; 3) Determine if there were instances when you falsely assigned a negative interpretation, and consider how much time and energy you wasted; and, 4) Make a new list of your present-day life and replace any negative interpretations you may have with positive ones.