When you’re facing confusion, conflict, or other problems, begin by honestly admitting that your thinking is distorted by fear. Then, claim the power to find a new perspective.
Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, wrote,
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing is a field. I will meet you there.
Looking beyond the contours of the problem leads to a field of new possibilities. It’s a choice between living in the problem and living in the solution.
Living in the problem.Our worries focus our attention on the “rightdoing and wrongdoing” of our situation: We obsess about who was at fault, what we should have said or done, or how a situation should be different. These fears make us tense, often leading to rash actions and damaged relationships.
Living in the solution.When we look “out beyond” these negative thoughts, we find a perspective of peace, hope, and wisdom. This is where the solutions lie.
Recently, I argued with my husband by insisting the GPS was giving us the wrong directions. After a pretty nasty exchange, I closed my mouth, breathed quietly, and chose to seek a new perspective. Every time my mind wanted to prove that I was right, I said the Serenity Prayer. Soon, the heat of my emotions subsided. Later, we both had a good laugh when we saw that my “better” route was no faster than the GPS’s route!
Try this simple exercise to experience living in the solution rather than in the problem. It’s a variation on “The Golden Key” published in Power Through Constructive Thinking (free PDF of the entire book) by Emmet Fox, a New Thought leader of the early 20th century.
Whenever a troubling thought comes to you, gently focus your mind on something that brings you hope or happiness. It may be a phrase (“All is well”); a prayer; or an image of a beloved child or a rose. When you revert to worrying, think instead about your positive thought.
Make the switch as often as necessary.
Your thoughts frequently return to the problem in the mistaken belief that this will fix it. Be vigilant and gentle as you teach your mind to think about the positive thoughts you’ve chosen.
Soon you will gain a peaceful outlook that leads to wise solutions. Quite often you’ll find no action is necessary at all.
Gigi Langer holds a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology from Stanford University. Through her writing, coaching, and speaking, Gigi has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and at work. Her new book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now, will be available everywhere in February 2018.