I like a good challenge now and then. A couple of weeks ago I took on Mother Nature in a test of wills. I attempted to clear two feet of snow from my driveway through the power of positive thinking. I also used deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and openness. When those didn’t work I tried crying and begging. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to fix my plow guy’s truck and get him up my driveway. After five days of misery, helplessness, and another eight inches of snow I finally stopped wishing it would magically take care of itself and I got the names of people with the equipment that could handle it. 120 bucks later I was mobile.
Fast forward two weeks. The weather report says the wind chill will be minus 30 degrees. I’m not worried because we just got a delivery of heating oil. Unfortunately my oil freezes and my furnace stops. Again I start with the deep breathing and the prayers that *this* time when I push the reset button the furnace will stay on. After 24 hours of this the house is kind of chilly. My husband and I reason “Well, we’re going away for two days and it’s supposed to warm up Saturday (from zero to 20).” As I sat staring out the window, and felt that familiar helpless feeling, I caught myself and said, “Wait a second. Why am I not doing something about this?” My rationale for hesitating was to save money and because I felt guilty for not buying fuel that wouldn’t freeze. Those were lousy reasons considering the temperature. I called the furnace people and we were warm again within two hours. As soon as I hung up the phone I felt gleeful.
This was a radical awakening for me. I began to recognize my pattern of facing adversity with hopeless anxiety disguised by positive thinking, breathing, and writing in my journal. Hogwash. I need action. I need to call someone with a working plow truck, or a blow torch and an oil filter. Action feels good– effective action that is. Repeating things that haven’t worked before is not effective. Continually pushing the reset button on the furnace doesn’t move me forward or give me energy.
Since then I’ve been pondering the notion of action in my life. Now that I’m
an expert I have some handy advice on the subject.
a) Recognize the “Wishin’ & Hopin’ state.
Are you hoping something or someone will magically make it all better? Do you have a tight feeling in your chest that you keep trying to eliminate\ with deep breaths? What is the anxiety about? Money? Are your priorities right considering the circumstances?
b) Determine what isn’t working?
Are you banging your head against the same wall again and again? What ineffective actions are you repeating? What haven’t you tried? What are you avoiding?
c) Bring in fresh ideas.
Go outside your regular sphere for a new point of view. Ask a friend for names of plow guys. Brainstorm with your coach. Expand your horizons with a teleclass. Do an internet search. Try something, anything to give you a fresh perspective.
d) Go for it.
Okay, now you’ve got the new idea. Do it. Action will give you energy. Action isn’t everything. And positive thinking is enormously powerful. But for those times when fear clenches you in its icy grip and tries to make you believe there’s nothing you can do, shake it off. You are not helpless, only
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