Skip the negative commentary

Photo courtesy of Natalle Shuttleworth (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Natalle Shuttleworth (Creative Commons)

I’ve noticed something about how I get things done lately, and it’s really helping me face difficult tasks without as much hesitation and worry.

I used to engage in a mental conversation about how much I didn’t want to do something, or how hard it was going to be, or how much it was messing up whatever else I wanted/needed to be doing. It’s easy to fall into that trap, but it’s such a negative mental loop that really doesn’t accomplish anything except make me dread whatever it is I have to do.

There are several books I’ve read lately that promote a more go-get-‘em attitude of facing challenges which have shifted my outlook a bit.

In his book, The Way of the Seal, retired U.S. Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine tells us, “To win at anything, we must first win control over our minds.”

Ryan Holiday tells us in The Obstacle is the Way that it’s important to stay calm. “It’s the kind of calm equanimity that comes with the absence of irrational or extreme emotions. Not the loss of feeling altogether, just the loss of the harmful, unhelpful kind. Don’t let the negativity in, don’t let those emotions even get started. Just say: ‘No, thank you. I can’t afford to panic.’ ”

He goes on to say that, “This is the skill that must be cultivated – freedom from disturbance and perturbation – so you can focus your energy exclusively on solving problems, rather than reacting to them.”

Now I find myself accepting and doing whatever it is without all the mental commentary – no need to rehash how much else I have to do or anything else, just get busy and do it. What a relief it is to approach things that way!

Let me give you an example. One of my duties at work is computer support. If things go wrong with the computers or registers, I am the first line of defense. If it’s over my head (which much of it is), then I have people I can contact to solve the problem.

I got paged first thing one morning about one of our registers, but instead of sighing and moaning, I just went to deal with it. Turns out it was not something I could fix, so I contacted tech support and scheduled a service call. I returned to my desk only to be told the other register was having troubles. Same thing – called tech support and this time, they were able to talk me through a solution.

Before, having something like that go wrong would have sent me into a tailspin of negative thinking and crabbiness. But this time, I just dealt with the problem and got back to the other work I needed to get done.

No mental discussion, no complaints, no crabbiness, no negativity.