When you don’t like what you are saying to yourself, change the subject.
I learned some time back that the quality of my thinking is related to my moods. My moods may go up after I eat or listen to music or get some rest or get some good news. My moods may go down when I am hungry or tired or get bad news or sometimes for reasons that I cannot identify.
What I have noticed, however, is that as my moods rise and fall, the things I attach to my moods in terms of thinking become more important or less important along with the changes in my moods. When I am in a great mood, my troubles seem less important if the troubles even occur to me at all. When I am in a low mood, I put my troubles under a magnifying glass and they become very large and appear to be very important.
What I have also learned is that the less I focus on things that trouble me but are not actually happening in the present moment, the better my moods tend to be for the day.
In an earlier article, I discussed “How to Turn Worries into Plans.” The point of this essay is to interrupt our thoughts when are not planning, but just ruminating.
Here are some things that help me change the subject when I do not like what I am saying to myself. I call people who are great listeners. I like to call some people, because they have a skill for saying things that help me put things in perspective.
Several years ago, my business was slow. I was feeling anxious. The more I thought about how slow my business was at the time, the longer my periods of anxiety became.
One day when I felt so anxious, I had the sensation that my skin actually was tingling. I called a friend who had a miraculous way of helping me with getting an accurate perspective. He listened to what I had to say about my concerns.
Then he said, “Do you remember what you did when your business was successful?”
I replied, “Yes.
He said, “Do that again.”
How simple. Snap. For the first time in several days, my anxiety passed. I had an option to living in my anxiety. I could focus on the things I had done when I was successful and just repeat those things that had worked before.”
Another way of changing the subject of my own thinking is to listen to people or read material from people who have fun or uplifting content.
The first experience I had where I recall being aware of an outside source completely altering my thinking came one Saturday morning when I was in one of four long lines at a car wash. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, I was in a new car, I was in line to have a team of professionals clean my entire car, and I was mentally discussing how tough my life was going.
I remembered that I had a Zig Ziglar motivation recording in my car, and I had never listened to it. The experience that I had from listening to that presentation was miraculous. I felt great. My mood elevated. My thinking changed.
Music can be such a strong mood changer that movies, sporting events, and even shopping centers use music to enhance the mood of their customers. Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures saw the movie “High Noon” prior to the addition of the soundtrack, which four-time Academy Award winner Dimitri Tiomkin had created for the movie. Cohn predicted that the movie would be a flop. Stanley Kramer, producer of “High Noon,” would no doubt say that the soundtrack is the tight leather belt that pulls the tension of the movie together.
Sometimes changing the subject can be much simpler. I can take a deep breath, take a walk, take a nap, and have a healthy meal. I do the simple things that people with great mental health do every day.
You are extraordinary! When you don’t like what you are saying to yourself, change the subject.