I really dislike mice and spiders and all manner of insects! As a young child I remember my mother telling a true story about when she was putting trash in the kitchen garbage can. The garbage can was nearly full so she was pushing the trash down to make more space when a mouse ran from the garbage can right up my mother’s arm! It gives me chills just to think about it.
When my husband, Chuck and I were first married we lived in a house that he was remodeling. This house had a dirt cellar full of mice that found their way into our kitchen where they deposited their droppings on our dishes and silverware. I made it through because I knew Chuck would finish the remodel and we would move into a home that we were having built. A beautiful, new, mouse free home! We still live in the home we had built and we love it.
Fast forward to first thing this morning … The dog had been let out and was ready to come back in. Chuck opened the slider wide and let our dog, Bogie back in. Once inside, Bogie is supposed to sit until Chuck gives him permission to go eat. This morning Bogie did not sit. Bogie went charging towards his food bowl with Chuck following close behind yelling “Bogie sit!” And ….. in the mayhem Chuck left the sliding glass door wide open! I was instantly angry. “Chuuuuckkk ….. you didn’t leave the slider open, did you?!?” The answer, of course, was “yes”. “I better not find a mouse in our house!” I said, barely containing my fear as the image of a mouse running up my mother’s arm raced across my mind and I began to shudder. Then I stopped and remembered, I’m a Mindset Coach. I am in charge of my thinking. Has something like this ever happened to you? What is your version of the mouse running up your arm?
So how do we deal with these triggered apparently spontaneous thoughts? Simply stop, and grab a piece of paper and a pen. Draw a line down the middle of the page. Title the left side “What Happened”. Title the right side of the page “What Did I Make It Mean”. On the left side write only what actually happened. Just the facts. No opinion. No justification. Just the facts. In my situation the “What Happened” is Chuck left the sliding glass door open.
Once you have written the “What Happened” switch to the right side of the page and write down everything thing you made “what happened” mean. In my situation I made the “Chuck left the sliding glass door open” mean lots of mice were running into our house in that very moment. They were hiding, waiting for us to leave. The mice would run through our drawers and cupboards and leave their droppings on our dishes and silverware. A mouse would run up my arm. I would have to spend thousands of dollars paying for an exterminator and a professional cleaner to sterilize our home. Yes I have a vivid imagination.
Perhaps like me, once you have done the “What happened and What did you make it mean” exercise you can separate the facts from the thoughts and feelings. Perhaps you can, like me, begin to see that what happened wasn’t that big of an issue. Chuck left the slider open at 5:00am this morning. It is now 7:24pm and a mouse has yet to run up my arm.