We all can relate to how a perfectly calm day can suddenly turn into chaos, taking us
from peaceful to panicky in mere minutes.
For example how would you react to the following situations?
- Guests are arriving to the big outdoor party you’ve been planning for months and it
unexpectedly begins to rain, drenching your guests,tables, chairs and decorations.
- Your computer crashes and you realize you can’t remember the last time you backed
up your files.
- A loud, violent thunderstorm has just shut down your electric power. You’re bumping
into furniture looking for candles, matches and a flashlight.
- You’re running late driving to an important meeting and you’re stuck in a huge traffic
Are you feeling anxiety arising as you read these scenarios? In moments of stress and
frustration, it can be difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to “just take a deep breath and
Here is a technique I call Fast Forward that I find useful:
Let’s take the first example of your outdoor party getting soaked. The moment it begins
to rain and you start to feel panicky, STOP that moment and freeze it in time. Now,
mentally fast forward your life to tomorrow and see (like watching yourself on a video)
how this event impacts your next day.
You may be surprised to see that it is already rather insignificant, maybe even beginning
to feel fairly meaningless. You see that you and your guests are busily engaged in a
brand new day, with the rainy party in the past.
If you still feel upset, however, fast forward your life to the next week or two and notice
how the intensity of the frustration of the event fades even more with time. See how
your life has continued with very little negative impact from the rainy party. Keep fast
forwarding until you come to a point in time where the memory of the event no longer
causes you pain, but might even be the subject of laughter as you and your guests tell
stories of the fun everyone had at your party despite the rain.
If necessary, fast forward 10 years in the future and see how the event is no longer
even accessible in your memory. Or, if you are very talented at holding a grudge, jump
ahead a thousand years from now. The earth has hopefully continued onward withfuture generations of people and your rainy party (crashed computer, power outage,
traffic jam) seems very, very insignificant in the whole scheme of things.
I often use this technique to help me “get over it” when I’m stuck in everyday frustrating
situations (like the power outage I experienced while writing this article..true! A big bolt
of lightning took out the power.. how do you think I came up with #3 of the quiz?)