Replace Improbable Negative Thoughts With Realistic Positive Thoughts

Filed in Stress & Anxiety by on May 26, 2016 0 Comments

iStock_000057893998_SmallI came to the realization recently that the negative thoughts we so often entertain are usually extremely unlikely and improbable, and for this reason should be even easier to cast aside and replace with positive thinking.

Our breeder had been emailing us weekly videos every Tuesday of the newborn puppies we were going to choose from for our new dog. Then on the seventh Tuesday we didn’t receive a video. That didn’t seem too strange, so I tried to be patient. Then the following Tuesday we once again didn’t get a video, and so had heard no word at all about the puppies for two full weeks. I began to fear the worst. Had one of the puppies fallen sick? After all, they were all still quite young and vulnerable to disease and health issues. Could the precious puppy we had selected as ours be ill?

Not happy thoughts.

Then I realized that the chance that this scenario was the actual cause of the lack of communication by the breeder was infinitesimally small. Wasn’t it much more likely he had just been very busy with three growing puppies? Or that he had gotten busy with some other family matter or project that had temporarily made it difficult for him to create and email videos to us? After all, he had never promised us a weekly video, he had just been kind enough to do so for several weeks.

So I decided to call him. And lo and behold, the puppies were fine, and he had just gotten busy around the house with spring cleaning and didn’t have time to send a video, for which he apologized profusely. I said that was quite alright and understandable, and that I hadn’t been at all worried about it. (Liar!)

Have you also fallen into the trap of entertaining negative thoughts that are wildly improbable? How about your spouse not coming home at their usual time, and your mind wandering to the possibility that their car might be in a ditch somewhere. Isn’t it more likely that they decided to run an errand, and maybe happened upon a friend and stopped to chat for a bit? Or let’s say your boss hasn’t yet praised you for a job well done on that big project you just completed, and you begin to fear they may not think very highly of your work and may have decided you aren’t such a good fit for the job. Isn’t it quite a bit more likely that your boss has just been distracted by work and home issues and simply hasn’t yet had a chance to tell you what a nice job you did?

Our negative thoughts tend to be highly unlikely scenarios, and as such are best laid aside and replaced with the much more likely benign explanations that undoubtedly represent reality. Of all of the terrible things we worry about, 95% never happen, and the other 5% we will never be able to anticipate anyway!

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *