A Spider Threatened My Independence

(aka It’s about Mindset)

How could this be?  I was feeling In Charge.  Capable.  Confident.  Then I looked up.  A big, hairy spider was on the ceiling right above me! 

It was now controlling my mood.  Giving me anxiety.  I was waiting for it to drop into my coffee.  Or to scramble down the wall to get closer and closer.  

Is this a metaphor for the jerk who does a mindset take-over?  Who takes over your sense of safety every time he enters the room and draws closer to tell you how you should be doing your work or how someone else is vying for your job.

What can we do about the spiders in our world?

Move out of their way?  Find out more about them so they’re not scary anymore? “Hey, there, Mr. Eight Legs, what’s on your plate today?”  said the fly to the spider. Change our mindset?

What is Mindset Anyway?

Basically, it’s a set of attitudes.  We can have an optimistic or pessimistic mindset when we approach challenges.  If we’re in the habit of seeing a glass half empty over the little things (“It’s raining, I know no one will show up at my party.”), we really have some work to do to change our mindset when we face the larger challenges like loss of a job, or any loss or disruption in our lives.

Why is it so important to be positive, especially when we’re not feeling it?

Mindset Affects Your Health

It’s not just your psychological health but your physical health that can benefit from practicing positive thinking.  Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that positive thinking can increase your life span, lower rates of depression, and provide  greater resistance to illness among other benefits.  In short, coping skills reduce the effect of stress on the body.

The good news is that positive thinking skills can be learned. 

Learning a New Language 

Self-talk is the stream of thoughts that run through your mind.  For example, right now you may be saying to yourself, Why am I spending time reading this when I should be fixing my Linked In profile? De-valuing your choices and decisions is a form of negative self-talk.  Of course you should be reading this.  Other common forms that you may or may not recognize, per the Mayo Clinic, are:

Blame-fixing rather than accepting what happened and asking what you can learn from the experience.  

Catastrophizing what might happen.  Some people call this anticipatory anxiety.   

Magnifying the negative aspects of your day and forgetting or ignoring the positives.

Perfectionism, which sets you up for failure when you have impossible standards.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda, the “three sisters” that love to take you back to what could have been, if only, without the benefit of being in that moment to contextualize.

Changing the Script

As with any habit you want to change, practice and intention are key.  But, please, don’t indulge in more negative self-talk if you find it’s tough to break the habit.  James Clear, who wrote Atomic Habits, said, “When making plans think big, when making progress think small.”   

Practicing Positive Self-Talk

Practice turning the negatives into positives as soon as they begin to sound off in your mind. This can be challenging but you’ll get the hang of it.


Finally, write down an affirmation about someone you love.  Then consider that someone you.  Surprise! After all,  you wouldn’t be so negative with a good friend, would you?  I suggest you do this before you begin to plan your day and dive into your routine.  In other words, catch yourself off guard with a spoonful of self-compassion…and no spiders in your coffee.

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