A client walks into a therapist’s office, looks around, and says: “Is that a new sofa?”
The therapist says: “No.”
The client says: “Have I been sitting on this one weekly for six months?”
The therapist says: “Yes.”
The client says: “What’s wrong with me?”
Now, where does the conversation go? There’s truly nothing wrong with this individual. In fact, the question, the awareness of NOT BEING AWARE, likely means he/she has slowly, gradually begun to focus, to be aware, to pay attention, to be MINDFUL….
STRESS distracts all of us…sometimes, actually often, from things right in front of us….OR from a sofa right under us! And when you are stressed, your main focus is on what’s going on in your life that is challenging and painful, how you feel about it, and what TO DO! The color and fabric of a sofa is way, way down on your list of things to pay attention to.
So what does it mean when you start to SEE more things around you? It suggests that you have made progress: for understanding the degree of your stress, where it’s coming from, and hopefully using new ideas for what to do to reduce and manage the stress.
In day to day life — vs in a therapist’s office — how tuned in are you to your environment? What do you see, hear, take in, focus on and remember? It’s important! From the minute you get up and prepare for your day, mindful focus is essential — that’s simply in order to live a successful life! And awareness of when you are missing too much because of stress is an actual “gift” from your system. It’s telling you to slow down, look around, listen to both yourself and others, and move a bit more purposefully and mindfully. Otherwise, you are missing “the juice” of life….you deserve more.
Back to “what’s wrong with me?”…..That question is a “go to thought distortion” for many of us. If I have missed something, then it’s “my fault”…there is something wrong. The question doesn’t help…but tweak it a bit to see how to make your questions work. Try: “What am I missing?” “What have I been focusing on?” “Am I still stressed enough to not see clearly?”
Or for this client: “Does noticing the sofa mean my head is clearing up? That I’m relaxing more?” And the answer to THAT question is yes….
Make sure you see the difference in the questions. The focus on YOU and what’s wrong with you leads to more inflammatory and distorted thinking. The focus on more specifics — my focus, my stress — takes your mind in a direction to problem solve. If you want to learn more about thought distortions, see my book: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH!
And just for fun, see if you can describe the last sofa you were sitting on!
Take care…and reduce as much stress as you can…