I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I are empty nesters. We enjoy this stage in our lives because it’s given us the freedom to do more things as a couple while also staying connected to our kids. Looking back over the years, we made sure to invest time and attention in each of our kids knowing someday we’d be living in different places.
What’s ironic though is that when we get a phone call from Josh or Melanie, our first thought isn’t positive. When their name pops up on the screen, our minds automatically come up with a multitude of potential situations. Each one is worse than the prior one. You can feel your pulse and blood pressure elevate just a bit and you clench as you hit the “answer” button. Nine times out of ten the conversation is positive and even a bit benign. They’re just checking in.
All of the years of investing time in having relationships with our kids have paid off. That doesn’t change the sinking feeling of a potential catastrophe looming around the corner. Now, you need to take note that we don’t want something horrible to happen when we chat. It’s the last thing we’d want. So, why do we catastrophize something that should be positive? How would we respond if the call wasn’t positive and something dire was truly facing our kids?
Humans are unfortunately built to assume the worst is possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s a parent/child interaction or a work encounter. Our minds jump to a catastrophic level just in case something does present itself in the worst possible way. How sad is that? We’ve become so used to catastrophizing the potential outcome of meeting with others that it’s become our norm. That just shouldn’t be the case.
What steps could we take to not expect the worst is inevitably going to occur? The first thing is to intentionally have the discipline to see the positive aspect of every engagement we have with others. Develop a mindset that the best is going to occur. This simple step of going into conversations expecting something positive is a good start.
Secondly, believe that people have good intentions first. Understand that others want to avoid catastrophic thinking just as much as you do. Even if you’re the only one assuming positive intent, it’s better than both parties assuming the worst.
Finally, live in the moment. I don’t mean to belittle the future. Not in the least. I am a person who eagerly looks forward expecting good things. Being in the moment though allows you to focus on what’s in front of you. It also keeps you in the best frame of mind if something is bad or catastrophic. As humans, we respond when a crisis is upon us better than we do facing our regular day-to-day patterns.
We shouldn’t need our circumstances to hit a crisis level in order for us to act. It’s not healthy or sustainable. Think about it for a moment. If we only feel comfortable acting when the worst truly is what we’re facing, then we’re living with a constant catastrophic mindset !!
This week, make the change to be positive, and believe the best is going to happen with every conversation you have with every person that crosses your path. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how easily your day goes by with few bumps when fewer negative thoughts take up space. Stop catastrophizing and expect the best !!