Life is like an Ocean. Sometimes what looks like perfect beach day on the surface, can be offset by a terrible rip current, a rogue wave, or a gnarly set that smashes you around and takes your breath away.
Which is kind of like how it felt when I, a husband, father, motivational speaker, and life coach, was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic lung cancer three years ago.
It just felt like we were getting pummeled by waves and everytime we tried to come up for air we get hit again.
I'm sure you've had seasons of your life that you can relate!
The questions of "will I be able to grow old with my wife? Will I be able to watch my son grow up? Why me? What should I eat or not eat? Is there a cure?"
These major questions at the forefront of my mind coupled with the hundreds of everyday ambiguous questions and stressors that are playing on repeat like a broken record can be downright overwhelming at times.
Yet, (like many of you facing adversity of your own) here we stand, still smiling, still speaking hope, and still finding reasons to believe in brighter days.
So when people are genuinely curious as to how I can remain " positive" during the storms of life, my answer might surprise you.
Maybe not the first part 😆
While my faith in Jesus- and the fact that God has a plan that supercedes anything we can phathom- acts as the foundation for me spiritually... the real power to my mindset doesn't lie in blind positivity, or made up motivation. It comes from the quiet mastery of neutral thinking.
Don't get me wrong, positivity is like a life raft in stormy seas and it's certainly important and powerful to possess the ability to see the bright side rather than being a chronic catastrophizer.
But I quickly realized that only relying on optimism to pull me out of every situation, began to set unrealistic and sometimes delusional expectations- which would often lead to disappointment and less energy to pull myself back together.
It often causes you to ignore the reality of the circumstances, and therefore when things are clearly not going the way you hoped they would, then the bubble bursts and you're left facing all the negative thoughts that have been lying and waiting.
That's where neutrality steps in.
In fact, the ability to remain neutral in the face of immediate hardships, can help you be and think more positively in the long run!
It's not apathy, it's not surrender. It's a state of calm observation, where you acknowledge the darkness without letting it consume you. It's recognizing the storm without becoming the ship that's tossed and turned.
Neutral thinking has been my superpower that allows me to
Detangle from negativity: My brain, like everyone else's, has its go-to negativity spiral. But by observing my thoughts without judgment, I can identify, acknowledge, and gently detangle myself from the sticky tentacles of doubt and fear. It's like stepping back from a spinning record player and choosing not to get caught in the grooves.
Make clear-headed decisions: When emotions run high, logic takes a backseat. Neutral thinking grants me a space of clarity where I can assess the situation, weigh options, and make choices based on facts and faith, not fear. It's like navigating a dark room with a torch, seeing the path ahead without being blinded by shadows.
Accept, adapt and overcome: Sometimes, reality sucks and Bad things happen. Neutral thinking lets you accept these truths without being crushed by them. It's more than just compartmentalizing. It allows you to find the flexibility to adapt, to bend with the wind instead of breaking in the storm.
Developing neutral thinking takes practice, not magic.
Here are three simple steps you can take to practice neutral thinking in your life:
Meditation: Quiet your mind and observe your thoughts without judgment. Think of you brain like a snow globe and you're the centerpiece fixture. When your brain enters into stress and trauma, the thousands of snowflakes are like your negative thoughts. However what meditation helps you with is not latching onto these negative thoughts and just remaining still, to let them settle.
TRY THIS! When you're feeling stressed out and you notice that your gut reaction is to lash out, or grab your phone and distract, or grab a beer or something greasy/sugary- just pause, AND SMILE. Recognizing you caught yourself!
Then go somewhere that you can breathe. Take 1-5 deep breaths with a 4 second inhale, 5 second hold (contract your muscles gentlywhile holding) , and then a 7 second exhale while relaxing your whole body.
Try to set your intention of how you want to handle this situation before returning, and practice doing this first thing in the morning when setting your intention for the day.
Also consider looking into guided apps for meditation such as AURA, or CALM to help build up your mental muscle one day at a time.
Reframing: taking a situation at face value and recognizing your default reaction may not be the most helpful response! So instead of letting your brain take you down the rabbit hole of worst case scenarios,
Negative Thought: "I'm so stupid! I can't do anything right."
Neutral Reframe: "I made a mistake on that task. It's frustrating, and I need to figure out how to avoid it next time". - This will definitely take practice but when you catch yourself over and over and reframe your mind it strengthens your self awareness, self confidence, and your ability to make better decisions!
Focus on the present: Don't dwell on what-ifs or past regrets. You've probably heard of the saying "paralysis by analysis" and this is typically caused by the overload of decisions that aren't being made that add to fear, stress or overwhelm. Being able to strengthen your resolve and decision making skills in the present will help you triage situations more effectively so that you can CHOOSE to see life more efficiently. Anchor yourself in the present moment, where action and choice reside.
TRY THIS: if you feel overwhelmed by TODOS, write them all down and then categorize them by URGENCY and IMPORTANCE.
Then begin with one thing that you know you can knock out to get momentum going first, make that decision, then make your plan on how to assess the MOST URGENT/IMPORTANT ones to give you some real relief and remind you that YOU are in control.
Remember, true strength doesn't lie in suppressing negativity, nor faking optimism, but in developing the self awareness to recognize when you're circling the drain and creating an arsenal of tools to learn how to master your mind!
Embrace the power of neutral thinking, and find the unwavering calm that lies beyond the storm.
Please comment below or share if this was helpful for you!!!!!
***If or your team struggle with stressful situations, are constantly catostrophizing when life gets crazy, or you just want to learn how to strengthen your mindset - please click the "GET IN TOUCH" button on the home page and sign up for your FREE CLARITY CALL!
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