The events that disrupt your life today rarely have the same meaning after a few days, weeks, or months. For example, have you ever felt distraught about any of the following?
i Someone cutting you off in traffic i Being embarrassed i Locking yourself out of your car i Forgetting someone's name i A minor illness or injury i Spilling something i For women (well, mostly women anyway): A run in your nylon hose i For men (again, for the most part): Cutting your face shaving i A bad hair day i A fender bender i A traffic ticket i Running late
Events like these so often lead to very malicious thoughts and highly distressing feelings. If you think back on these events after some time has passed, however, rarely can you muster up the same intensity of emotion. That's because most upsetting events truly aren't all that important if you look at them in the context of your entire life. Check out the following example of the Traveling to the Future technique in action.
kPLE Joel owns a piece of land on a busy corner. He'd like to sell the property, but he knows it's worth far more if it can be zoned for commercial purposes first. In order to do that, Joel ypu ) must present his case in front of the Zoning Commission. He expects some opposition and criticism from homeowners in the area, and he's been putting this task off for months because of the intense anxiety it arouses in him.
He fills out a Thought Tracker (see "From Arraignment to Conviction: Thought Court" earlier in this chapter) and identifies his most malicious thought: "I'll make a fool out of myself. I'll probably stumble all over my words and sound like an idiot." He travels to the future with this thought to help him gain a better perspective; Joel asks himself how he'll look at this issue at various times in the future (see Worksheet 6-15). He rates the emotional upset and effect on his life that he feels right now, and then he re-rates the impact on his life at the conclusion of the exercise.
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