About lorettalaroche

An international stress management and humor consultant whose wit, and irreverent humor, has, for over 30 years raised the humor potential in all of us. She is on the Mass General advisory council for anxiety and depression and was recently awarded the National Humor Treasure Award. Loretta writes a weekly newspaper column called, 'Get a Life'.

Rational begets Rational

Much of our stress and emotional suffering comes from the way we think. I’m a master of this; I can drive myself nuts in two minutes. The thoughts that cause us stress are usually negative, unrealistic, and distorted. They’re knee-jerk automatic responses that just pop out. You’re in the parking lot—aha! They took all the spaces! It’s a plot; we think that people get up before we do, go to the parking lot, and put their cars in our spaces.

Let’s say you go to the movies. You’ve got to get the right seat with no one in front of you. People come in and they’re also looking for the right seat. They sit in front of you, and one has a big head. You start to think, “Oh, no! Oh, my God, not again. Why me? Why do I always get the people with big heads? This always happens to me! Now I won’t see a thing. My whole night is ruined!” You took a simple thing and distorted it in your mind, and ruined the whole night for yourself. The thought that you could move, or accept the situation, thereby solving the problem, doesn’t even enter your head.

Even though I lecture, write, and read everything on relieving stress that I can get my hands on, I still periodically get sucked into my nutty putty mentality. It usually happens when I’m in a rush and haven’t prepared adequately in advance. Recently I had to tape a program for a client, and was told to arrive at 9:30 A.M. I had time the night before to get my clothing ready, but oh no, I decided to get up early and do it in the morning. I had made up my mind about what I was going to wear and that decision was set in stone.

Eventually I did find the suit, but then it came time to find the shoes. The bottom of my closet would make a snake pit look appealing. I began searching calmly at first, but with each passing minute I became more incensed. I finally found one shoe, but the other one was missing which led me to believe “that someone had taken it”.

I then became convinced that my husband had taken it. Of course how rational? A six foot man with a size twelve shoe size was hiding a size seven shoe with a stacked heel.

This is catastrophising at its best. I shared this story with several people who could totally relate. Many of us expend a lot of energy blowing things out of proportion making things worse than they are. Not every situation has to be dealt with as if it were a mugging. Whether you’re feeling angry, sad, or happy, your mind is conducting the outcome. Try to develop skills that allow you to create rational thoughts and you just might get rational results.


Global Whining

I’ve shared the following story many times because it so aptly describes how we increase our stress through preconceived ways of thinking about situations we encounter. A woman in front of me in a grocery store line was stomping her feet and sighing loudly. She exclaimed “Every time I come in here, it fills up with people!” I said, “Isn’t that odd, the same thing happens to me.” She said, “ Something’s going on.” I said, “I notice the manager goes into his office and he’s probably calling people up to come here to see you and I.” She looked at me and a small giggle escaped her lips. However, she continued to stomp and sigh, albeit with less enthusiasm. I realized she was having a hard time removing herself from her old thinking patterns.

Do you recognize yourself in the above scenario or any of the following: “I’ll never lose weight.”, “No one will ever love me.”, “Everyone gets waited on before me.” If the weather is bad and it’s your day off, you’re sure some invisible force did it because they’re out to get you. Almost every situation is married to a plot to drive you nuts.

What you’re doing is globalizing, and it’s permanent and it’s pervasive. The people who do this are into big-time suffering. First they pre suffer: “ I’m going to the store, and I know it’s going to be crowded.” Then they get there and their nightmare comes true. They’ve done the advance work, and now they actually get to suffer. This takes away the opportunity to think about options. Perhaps they could enjoy the people at the store, or shop at a different time when it’s less crowded. The most sensible thought is if you were the only one that came to the store, the store would close!

In order to get the most bang for the buck most individuals segue into post-suffering. It usually includes global whining. Millions of people whine together all the time. If we expended the energy we spent on feeling bad about things, we’d have solutions to all our problems.

When we tend to think in terms of black and white it says that the cards are stacked against me, I was born unlucky, I always get bad luck, and nothing works out for me. When you think globally you are multiplying situations by forever. That is, when things are bad, they believe they’ll always be that way and that things will never change for the better.

It’s important to stop this kind of globalizing because it adversely affects your mind/body and spirit. Begin by examining your thoughts. Do they make sense? Our words and actions have an impact on those around us. We can become the change we want to see in the world, but it takes  effort and a willingness to see the world through a more optimistic lens.