Originally Published 6th May 2020
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It happens to all of us from time to time.
Those days when it feels like you are wading through treacle, or you’re weighted down by some seemingly massive problem or issue, or you’re beating yourself up over a mistake you made or something that you did or didn’t do.
Here’s a tip from author and speaker Michael Hepple. When those moments bite, stop and ask yourself :
‘How will I feel about this in a week’s time?’
What would I be telling myself about this issue, this problem, this mistake if I was looking back at it in a week from now? Will it seem so pressing, so important, so critical?
Perspective – which is what this question provides – is a wonderful thing. Time and again I’ve found that question this simply question is enough to break through the treacle, release the pressure I feel or help me tune out the voices in my head which are beating me up and criticizing me and holding me back because of some mistake or issue I’ve made.
But it doesn’t always work.
Sometimes the treacle is deep, the problems are big, he voice is very loud. In which case I have to go to the next level:
‘How will I feel about this in a month’s time?’
If I was looking at this a month from now, what will I be telling myself is the priority that I should have gone after? What would I be telling myself about this mistake or this issue?
Now that has pretty much always worked for me but if I’m honest, once or twice I have to deploy the next level question:
‘How I feel about this in a year’s time?’
Will this seem significant? Will it matter? Will I even remember it?
So far for me that has always worked but if not, let me introduce you to DEFCON four, the nuclear option:
‘How will I feel about this on my deathbed?’
Now I’ve written elsewhere about the regrets of the dying. What you’ll find is that, almost certainly, this thing will not even be close to figuring. But most of us don’t need to go there.
Most people – including me – who practice this technique, find that they soon identify one of the questions as being the time frame that works for you, whether its a week, a month, a year or in the end.
A different perspective – however we position is – is often all we need to release ourselves from the pressure, stasis, or self- condemnation. It’s enough to break us free, move us on and turn down the inner critic. Even and distance – even if only imagined – helps us see that most of what frustrates us, most of what irritates us, most of what we get distracted by, most of what holds us back, most of the mistakes we think we’ve made are, in the worldwide scheme of things, nowhere near as big, bad or ugly as they seem in the moment.