Are Your Thoughts in a Tug-of-War? Try Thanking Your Survival Instinct

 In Better Life, Negative emotions

I was dozing in and out of sleep, looking forward to a long, weekend’s rest. Then, suddenly, I remembered the bill that had come in the mail from our accountant that day. I couldn’t believe how high it was! It was at least twice as much as what I was expecting. And, they had charged me for the time I had spent on the phone with them helping them fix a mistake they had made!! Ridiculous! I would have to call them and find a new accountant . . .

My thoughts were in a downward spiral, replaying how unfair their bill was and what I wanted to say to them. This thinking was making me stressed and upset; not conducive for getting to sleep. I knew I had to find a more relaxing thought.

Has this ever happened to you? You feel like you’ve lost control over your thoughts and they are in charge? It was like a tug-of-war as I tried to shift to a different thought.

I had to quietly laugh as I realized that this was my survival instinct in full swing. My threat response was fully triggered by this situation that felt unfair, and it was determined to keep me safe by making sure I had a plan. This instinct is super fast and requires no attention or effort on our part. Quite the contrary, overriding this threat response takes a lot of effort and concentration. So I kept trying to bring my thoughts back to things I am grateful for. Again and again and again. It took some time, but eventually, I did “win” and fell asleep.

Fast forward to my walk the next morning. I’m enjoying the sound of the birds and noticing how everything is turning green on this beautiful, sunny spring morning. WHAM! There it was again! I realized I had totally forgotten about enjoying my walk and had returned to my feeling of frustration around the bill. Too funny! I had to laugh again. As I tuned in, I thanked my survival instinct and turned my focus to my surroundings once more.

This week, see if you can notice yourself going into a downward spiral over some recent (or past) situation that made you upset. Then laugh as you thank your survival instinct and intentionally choose a better thought. Gratitude can be a great antidote.


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