Think about your favorite movie, the main character, the ending…now quickly think about a girl/boy/man/woman who you think is attractive; their eyes, their smile, etc. Now, what is 12 times 12? C’mon… alright, 6 times 6? Hopefully you were actually able to figure those last two out, but even if you couldn’t, you were thinking about them, right?
Did you actually have thoughts about all four of those things? The movie, the attractive person, and both the multiplications? If so, you must admit that you can think about different things consecutively pretty fast. Little did you know, you just proved that you can greatly reduce the stress in your life with that ability!
Alright, this might be a little tough to handle at first, but think about the last bad thing that happened to you. Fired from a job, failed a class, a bad break-up, a fight with a friend, whatever it may be. Now, I bet more than one thought is running through your head, such as all the things that were involved in the incident or all the bad things that resulted from it. If you had consecutive thoughts about the situation, this means two things. One, you are normal. Two, you associate one bad event with the things that you think were involved in it, which also makes you normal.
After these thought experiments, the concept of distraction and how you can use it are likely easy for you to figure out. The main point is to distract yourself from negative thoughts such as the one I just asked you to have. It sounds like a difficult maneuver, but if practiced enough, it becomes natural and involves hardly any effort at all. Let’s practice…
I want you to think of your most embarrassing moment; including the reactions from those around you, the feeling you had inside, how you wish you could go back to that moment and change it. Maybe even think of the face of one particular person around you at the time. NOW! Think of what you had for dinner last night, the taste (good or bad) and who was present when you were eating. Next, think of what you have to do when you get home today or tomorrow when you wake up.
Do you see what happened? You went from thinking about a horrific experience to thinking about what you could do to get ahead.
A good, easy example of how to explain this technique is when you stump your toe, which no doubt everyone has done at some point. Of course, it hurts when it happens, but if it’s just a stump (and not a break) then you have the choice to simply go about what you were planning to do before the stump and, thereby, ignoring the pain. Brush your teeth, do laundry, whatever, as long as you think of the task at hand and not the pain that came from the stump. It seems far fetched, but it is in essence the same thing that you just did, distracting yourself from a negative situation and focusing on something else that you were supposed to be thinking of all along.
If you still have issues making this technique work, feel free to email me with questions!