Years ago I saw a thought-provoking programme on TV about the different choices people make in response to similar events. One example was of two sets of parents who had lost their daughters in the downing of Pan Am flight 103 at Lockerbie (which, coincidentally, has recently been in the news again). Same dreadful incident – same tragic loss – and yet they had chosen very different responses. One set of parents had put all their energy into grappling with the legal system and canvassing the US government to bring the bomber to justice, while the others had set up a charitable foundation in their daughter's memory to help other bereaved families.
The difference in demeanour between the two couples was really startling: the first appeared consumed with bitterness and the quest for revenge, while the second seemed to have found some sort of peace by channelling their grief into something they felt was worthwhile.
At times when events and life feel overwhelming – when negativity threatens to take over – it can be very reassuring, not to mention empowering, to remind ourselves that each one of us ultimately possesses the power of choice. To give a simple example, it's a well-known maxim that while we have no power over the way others behave towards us, we have absolute power of choice over the way we react.
My very favourite tip, though, comes courtesy of coach Michael Neill of Genius Catalyst and can be applied whenever we find ourselves caught up in negative thinking. In a brilliant analogy, Mike suggests that we take the concept of a 'train of thought' literally. In other words, if you find yourself spiralling downwards into negative thinking (a negative train of thought) simply choose to get off the train! Trains go in lots of different directions… if you don't like the direction your train of thought is going, choose to get off and find one that's going in a more positive direction and has a more positive destination!
It's so simple – and so clever. I've used this umpteen times and found it hugely helpful. The power of choice. Just get off the train!
May all your journeys be positive ones!
© Annabel Sutton Coaching Tips 2009
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