I woke up one Saturday morning, drank some water and nearly hit the ceiling. I had lost a filling overnight and the water hit a nerve.
The immediate need to find a dentist took priority over a planned walk in the Dales.
The dentist’s surgery was in the neighbouring road. He saw me immediately on opening. By this time, I hadn’t eaten for fourteen hours, the anaesthetic caused me to feel woozy and I had to lie down in another room.
Feeling better, I sat out in the waiting room again. Another patient looked concerned. I explained the circumstances and expressed how lucky I was that the dentist was nearby and available. He looked astonished. “ You’ve had all this happen and you think you’re lucky?”
That was when I realised that I tend to look for the positive in life. I’ve heard it called the Pollyanna Syndrome and being unrealistic. I don’t think so. All I know, is that it’s been a lifesaver on occasions.
When my husband was in hospital last year, he was initially bewildered as to why he was asked by the nurses and doctors to scale various matters from one to ten. I explained that it was a measuring tool. A benchmark.
Was it is worse or better? Scaling can be helpful in helping us manage life’s difficulties and challenges too. I ask myself, “Is this the worst...that I’ve ever experienced?”
The worst physical pain, emotional pain, workplace problem, domestic situation, interview, journey, weather, meal etc: It not only helps put the matter into perspective, but can provide ideas for finding solutions. What did we do before? How did we get through a tough time? We survived.
Negativity is not healthy
Do you know someone who moans and complains all the time? It can be draining can’t it? All that negativity isn’t healthy. Either for the person complaining or the listener. Therapists are taught to protect themselves from listening to and possibly absorbing negativity.
One client woke up with life’s problems crowding her brain before she got up. I suggested she thought of three simple things to be thankful for. Hot water in the shower, food to eat for breakfast, clean clothes to wear. It worked. She began to look at her life through a different lens.
At the moment, there is a similar task being sent around friends on social media. Think of three simple, positive things in your day for five days. Write them down and after five days pass the task on to others. People have expressed how helpful it has been to them. They
have put their problems into perspective. To some, it’s felt like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Often, it’s the simple moments in life that can bring the greatest joy.
- Rita Leaman is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in North Yorkshire. As Alison R Russell, she is the author of ‘Are You Chasing Rainbows?’ www.chasingrainbows.org.uk