Things, people, places, and events do not make you miserable. You make yourself miserable with your own perceptions and self-talk.
—Albert Ellis, PhD, Rational Emotive Therapy
A few weeks ago, I attended a seminar about abundance, and the lecturer surprised us all with her first pearl of wisdom. She told us that in order to live with abundance, the first thing we needed to do is “Stop Complaining”. She actually gave us a challenge – “Do Not Complain for 21 Days – about anything”, she said; and added, “If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up, just forgive yourself, and start over.”
I decided to take her up on her challenge because I had to admit that I complain too much. It’s an easy habit to fall into. So, I eagerly readied myself for this challenge. During the short time I’ve focused on not complaining (about anything), (and, yes, I’ve had to start over a few times) I’ve had noticeable positive shifts in different situations that I was struggling with.
I’ll share one of them.
Turning a Bad Situation into a Positive One
My book publisher had promised me my book would be published by late June, or early July. By early July, I hadn’t even received the first draft of the layout back for my final review, let alone the final layout. I was frustrated, worried and angry, and I began to demand an exact date for its release. I criticized the way they had handled my book project, and generally complained about the entire process profusely. The publisher continued to insist they were “doing their best, and didn’t have control over a lot of the pieces.” I became even more worried and angry and continued to hound them, but they continued to dodge me for weeks. Truthfully, by then I was feeling exasperated, angry and powerless.
After I started my 21 days of no complaining, which meant I couldn’t complain to others (or even in my mind) the publisher suddenly called with all the people working on my book on the line. They let me know where they were at with my book, and what to expect next. Since then, they have been in close contact with me and extremely cooperative.
You could say it was a coincidence, but I know it wasn’t. Other things have shifted as well. I believe that when we are willing to make effort to improve our thoughts and behaviors, the Universe (I call it God) immediately gives us encouragement to stay the course.
This experience reminded me of how powerful our thoughts, feelings and mindsets are, and why having positive thoughts and feelings help us to be not only healthier and happier, but also to get better results in all areas of life.
2 More Powerful Tools to Banish Bad Moods and Get Better Results
So today I would like to share two other very powerful tools that can help you change your thoughts, moods, and mindset to more positive ones – to create better health and happier results in your life.
Most people believe that events, people, or things cause their misery and bad moods. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it leads to feelings of helplessness, loss of control and often results in a victim mentality. Feeling like a victim is not resourceful. If we see ourselves as victims, we rarely change, grow or heal. We remain stuck in old, negative, self-defeating behaviors, preferring to blame everyone and everything else for our health problems or other troubles rather than taking responsibility for our own behaviors and problems. This is not healthy or effective. As Melody Beattie warns us in The Language of Letting Go, “Feeling victimized is dangerous . . . you feel helpless, rageful, powerless, and frustrated. It can prompt you into addictive or other compulsive behaviors.” And, research in body-mind medicine has proven that helplessness and anger contribute significantly to health problems, as well as repel the very things we want in our lives.
If you have a habit of thinking and saying things such as “It’s their fault,” “I never get a break,” “Nothing ever goes my way,” “There’s nothing I can do about it,” and so on, then maybe it’s time to ditch your habit of blaming and shift to a more resourceful and responsible mental state. This shift will help you achieve more positive outcomes in all areas, which leads to a healthier, happier and more confident life.
Eventually your self-talk will contain less self-pity and more self-responsibility. You may also become less critical of the world around you. Plus, when you share your positive mood, both you and those around you benefit.
How to Do It
Use the A-B-C Method to Change Negative Feelings to More Rational, Positive Feelings
Let’s look at a very simple example of how to use a method from Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy to turn an undesirable situation into an acceptable one. It’s called the A-B-C method, and this is how it works:
Let’s say you are planning a wedding, baptism, family reunion, or some other special occasion event outdoors. The day of this special event, it pours rain. Naturally, you would be disappointed. But you do not need to let it ruin your day, your week, or your life – or the lives of everyone around you. By using the A-B-C method below, you can change your perception and thoughts about this situation from seeing it as a disaster to seeing it in a more positive, resourceful way – thus averting bad moods and misery.
A is for the event, B is your self-talk, and C is your emotional response.
A = Event = A rainy day when you had a special outdoor event planned.
B = Self-Talk = “Oh my God, the day is ruined. This is horrible! I can’t stand it!”
C = Response = Feel angry, frustrated, depressed, hopeless.
It may look like A caused C – the rain caused negative thoughts and feelings, but this is not the case. It was actually B, your self-talk, or interpretation of the event, that caused C (your mood). In short, your interpretation of the event combined with your self-talk is what caused the bad feelings and moods.
Shift Your Thinking and Modify Your Self-Talk
Here is a new, more resourceful way to reinterpret the situation:
A = Event = A rainy day when you had a special outdoor event planned.
B = Self Talk = “I’m disappointed. I really wanted this wedding (event) to be a lovely outdoor event and all the arrangements have been made to hold it outdoors. But since that’s not possible, we will need to change our plans. Let’s go to Plan B.”
C = Response = Disappointed, hopeful, in charge, creative, cooperative, flexible, happy.
I hope you will try using this simple ABC tool to shift your negative thoughts to more positive, resourceful ones. Wishing you a beautiful week with happy, positive thoughts and peaceful well-being.
P.S. Don’t forget to tune into my interview with Suzi Petrozzi at The Empowered Woman Summit on Friday, July 22nd at 2:00 PM PST. You can sign up here to listen to the entire 4 days of powerful conversations about how to live your life as an empowered, joyful, and happy woman. The title of my talk is Empowered Brain—Empowered Woman.
Blessings, Light and Love,