From Pessimism to Optimism 2: Change your internal dialog

Mar 22, 2011Family Uncaged, Work Uncaged

One of the things I found I did was employ catastrophic thinking when things went slightly sour. My emotional reaction to smallish painful events didn’t square with the reality of the situation. Let me give you an example.

A few weeks ago, I got some numbers in the mail. Numbers are just numbers, right? They corresponded with my book sales, which didn’t bode well for my author heart. Instead of thinking, “Well, you win some; you lose some,” and moving on to the next thing, I wallowed there. I focused on catastrophe, thinking what my life would be like when I no longer could be an author. I pictured myself cooking taco meat at Taco Bell, or greeting folks at Stuff Mart. I walked down a long alley of fatalism.

I’ve realized this kind of thinking is not healthy.

Because the truth is, other books of mine are selling well. And publishers still want me to write for them. And, slowly, methodically, I’m building a readership. My publishing sky is not falling. It’s simply there, to be interpreted correctly.

So a better way to rephrase my thoughts would be: “Yes, my sales weren’t good on this book. That’s reality. But that doesn’t define my worth as an author. It doesn’t mean I’ll be greeting people at Stuff Mart. It just means that particular book didn’t resonate. That’s okay. My job today is to write the next thing, then the next. My vocation is to write for the sheer joy of the process and for the sake of those who may need to read those words. My worth depends on Jesus, not sales.”

I’m trying to catch myself now when I start walking the fatalistic, catastrophic path. Sometimes I tell my husband because he’s really good at helping me see the good in a situation. He is much more optimistic than I am, thankfully. I’m learning to step away from my immediate emotion and not let it inform my internal dialog.


What about you? How do you respond to small bits of bad news? Do you have catastrophic thinking? Have you overcome it? If so, how? (I’m asking both for my sake and for all the readers out there who struggle as I do.)