SNAFU Thinking

"The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside."
Dag Hammarskjold

What do you say to yourself when things go wrong? Do you have a store of pet phrases that come to mind automatically in times of trouble? Maybe you tell yourself:
Well, it’s always something!
If something can go wrong, it will.
Why do these things always happen to me?
Life isn’t fair (and it should be).
Just my luck!
If I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any at all.
Life is just one (bad) thing after another.
Life (crude verb).
Such negative comments may help us rebalance when trouble comes. When bad things happen, they disturb our sense of the way things are or ought to be. Thinking pessimistic thoughts puts the unwanted event into context. An unfriendly world may be less disturbing to our sense of well-being than a chaotic unpredictable one. So there is some payoff for a negative thought of this kind. There is also a risk of seeing the world, events and ourselves in a dimmer light than necessary.

Our habits of thinking filter our experience. If we habitually think pessimistically, we are likely to experience the world as more unfriendly than it actually is, and we can find ourselves feeling like a victim.

The optimist may be disappointed by events. Pessimists may be protected from disappointment, but they miss their fair share of joy. A third alternative is to abstain from interpreting events as either for us or against us. Events just are. The balanced mind takes events as they come free of judgment. The wise person expects multiple implications for any given event and does not automatically paint the event with his or her own color of interpretation.
Be particularly mindful of your self-talk this week. Notice what you say to yourself as events unfold. Watch for phrases that automatically come to mind, especially when your wishes are frustrated.

Notice if you scold yourself for poor performance, or if you hold thoughts critical of others.

See if you can distance yourself from negative and critical thoughts. Perhaps substitute a neutral or positive thought in their place.

To the Meditation Archive Menu

To the current Meditation of the Week


© 2003 Tom Barrett