July 1, 2011
Finding More Ease With the “Probable”
Focusing on the Most Likely Scenario Is More Calming
Once you get more practice at looking for the most likely outcome or explanation, and even predicting a positive outcome or assuming a positive explanation, you’ll feel more enthused and at ease throughout the day.
Yes, Things Go Wrong
We are earthlings, not heavenly beings. The holiest, strongest, richest, kindest, most famous, and even the most careful people have trouble, sometimes lots of it. Murphy’s Law states that anything can happen. Which is why we wear seatbelts and have fire extinguishers. It’s why skydivers have two parachutes, why scuba divers have two (breathing) regulators, and why we have backups for our hard drives.
Stuff can happen to anyone, and yet people approach life differently. People who worry a lot focus on what bad thing could happen and feel ill-equipped to deal with it. People who worry less focus on what’s more likely to happen. We are discussing categories here to simplify the concepts, not to label people.
Most people’s lives (in this country) are not filled with daily accidents, robberies, and new illnesses. Yet “worriers” tend to predict that the improbable bad thing will probably happen (“I don’t go into the city because I’ll probably get mugged….I don’t drive there because I might get lost….I don’t ask because I’ll probably be rejected”).
And “non-worriers” tend to believe that the bad thing is unlikely to happen, and that they can handle it even if it does. (“The drive will probably go smoothly. Anyhow, I’ll deal with it….You know, I might get accepted”). Both tend to act differently and to have very different moods. Although some people are “natural” non-worriers, most of us have to practice at this.
Some worriers and sensitive souls tend to assume other people’s ill will. “That person doesn’t like me….You did that on purpose just to annoy (shame, tease) me….He/She is mean and thoughtless, period.”
Of course, some negative predictions and assumptions come true or are true. The questions is: What is your style? Are you often looking for troubles, or are you mostly looking for blessings, opportunities, and goodwill?
How To Think in the “Probable” Mode
Here are some major ways to look for the probable and feel more positive:
- Choose Your Style. First, decide what worldview you would like to have. Then read, get guidance and coaching, and start to practice.
- Give the Benefit of the Doubt. You look for the mild or positive angle. So, you expect the situation will turn out well, that someone is probably not as horrible as it seems, or that you will manage to have a good experience. If something turns out not-so-good, you responsibly deal with it. Practice saying “It’ll work out well….I can handle whatever.”
- Increase Self-Efficacy. Self-efficacy (SE), coined by psychologist Albert Bandura, is a belief in your ability to influence things that are important to you. Healthy SE means you believe that you can succeed at things, that you can handle disappointment, and that you will achieve what you want—if you don’t give up.
Predicting What Is Most Likely
The better you get at predicting or expecting the truly most likely outcome to a situation or a decision you make, the more positive you will feel, and the more likely you will attract positive people and situations around you because of your positive energy. The “Law of Attraction” says that the “universe” can read you, and react in kind. And certainly other people can read you, and react to what they read. A reasonable and positive-focused person is what the world wants to see.
Here are some practical ways to look for the probable (what is most likely):
1st Rewrite a negative assumption into a “reframe”. For example, change “He doesn’t respect me” to “He may have had a bad day, or misinterpreted me.”
2nd List a few improbable worries you have (either of what might happen or your coping ability). Rewrite them into thoughts a confident person might have, and practice thinking this way during the next two weeks.
3rd Make a list of 5 – 10 things that went better than you expected in the last year. Write down the good outcomes, and what message you learned from each