Dealing with Recurring Negatives

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Eliminate, Ignore, or Accept


We all have recurring situations in our lives that bring down our mood. It's a fact of life. Usually we just get angry, or annoyed, or frustrated. And once the situation is gone, our emotions return to normal. What is important to note is that if the same issues are regularly occurring in your life, you can, and should, do something about them.

'Bad mood' scenarios are fairly predictable. In some cases, we can actually witness our emotional decline BEFORE things actually happen. We anticipate problems before they even arrive. This usually make matters worse because we are now geared to react negatively as soon as we get an inkling that things might go in that direction. And in some cases, this can actually cause the scenarios we anticipate.

Obviously, the best solution is to do something about negative situations BEFORE they happen. The following exercise will help:

1. Using a journal or notebook dedicated for this purpose, write down any major 'pet peeves' or bad-mood triggers that come to mind. Write each one at the top of a fresh page, leaving the back of the page blank (in case you need more space)

2. Once you have listed several negative scenarios, choose one to start. Under your title, write a sentence or two that describes how this scenario usually plays out.

3. Below this brief description, create three columns entitled: Eliminate, Ignore, and Accept

4. Now comes the brainstorming part. Write down the first thoughts that come to mind. How could you completely eliminate this problem? Put your ideas in the first column. Don't censor your ideas. They may seem silly now, but they could trigger a real solution later on. This is your action column, so your ideas should be action solutions. And for the most part, this is the column you should focus most of your attention on.

5. Do the same for the Ignore column. If you can't eliminate the problem, can you ignore it? This often applies to problems that involve other people, so give it some real thought. You can't always eliminate the people in your life, but you can choose to ignore any annoying behaviors that they may have. This doesn't mean that you should walk out on family or relationship issues without first trying to solve them through rational discussion. But if this has been done and has not resulted in a solution, consider ways that would allow you to ignore it.

6. Lastly think of how you might be able to accept the issue or problem just as it is. This requires an attitude adjustment. Is there a way you can adjust your thinking about the issue... to make it more acceptable? Or could you just learn to accept that it can't be changed, or that it really doesn't deserve all the fuss you're giving it.

7. Once you have several ideas jotted down, start putting the best ones into practice (one at a time, of course). If they work, great! If not, try something else. If you've tried everything from your first list, make a new one. Use the back of each page to keep track of how each solution turned out. Perhaps you can combine two of them or modify one in ways you haven't thought of yet.

I realize that for most, this whole procedure probably seems like a lot of effort. But like everything, it gets much easier with practice. And you don't have to work on every issue in the book in one go. Consider it an ongoing sanity project. Add thoughts here and there as you read through. Add new pet peeves as you think of them. It doesn't matter how small the annoyances are. Small niggling things can add up to much stress if they are allowed to continue every day. And they won't go away on their own. So the more of them we can deal with, the better our life will be.

The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.

Alan Saporta

Don't let negatives dictate the quality of your life. Deal with them. Eliminate them by finding viable solutions. Take away their power by ignoring them completely. Or, accept them as the result of your own attitudes and thoughts about them... attitudes and thoughts which you have the power to change.



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