Overcoming Negative Thinking and ‘Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda’

Overcoming Negative Thinking and ‘Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda’
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“Woulda, coulda, shoulda” have been my buzzwords since childhood. I’ve spent a lifetime second-guessing nearly every major decision I’ve ever made.

Of course, this caused me great stress and anxiety and led me to research how to change this negative habit. In the process, I learned that many physical issues stem from psychological issues. I began to suspect that many of my fibromyalgia symptoms were related to this negative thinking

My decision-making difficulties stem at least partially  from my childhood. My parents allowed me to make few decisions and even fewer mistakes. They had very specific rules about what I was allowed to be, say, and do. And those rules were strictly enforced.

The unfortunate result (for me and for many adults with similar childhoods) is that making decisions has always caused me great anxiety. In an effort to avoid making them, I find myself relying on other people’s opinions rather than on my own intelligence and experience. If I do manage to make up my own mind about something, I follow it up later with an endless stream of “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” 

My spiritual advisor recommended a book to help me with this issue. It’s not new, but rather a classic that’s as powerful today as ever. Written in 1968 by Raymond Charles Barker, “The Power of Decision” provides common sense incentives for me to change my pattern of thinking. Chief among them is the reminder that our minds are as unique as our fingerprints. Given this reality, I have a duty to share my uniqueness with the world. Unless I do so, why am I here?

So, I’m becoming less anxious about making decisions, and I’m allowing myself to make more mistakes. And guess what? The world doesn’t come to a screeching halt when I’m wrong! With time and practice, I’m hoping to feel completely comfortable in relying upon my own judgment and to experience a complete lack of anxiety whenever a decision needs to be made.

I’m afraid my description here is an oversimplification of “The Power of Decision.” Suffice it to say, this book affected my way of thinking like nothing else ever has. These days, I find myself either redirecting my thinking or changing the words I’m telling myself.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” Barker might have worded it differently, but his message is the same: We create our reality by the thoughts that we think. Further, the certainty of obtaining the outcomes we desire is consistent with the strength of our belief that we can.  

This thought process is quite a radical shift when you had previously believed that life just happened to you. I never imagined that my thoughts could create my future. However, knowing this and living it are two different things. It takes time and training to use your thinking to change your life. Deleting negative thoughts believed for a lifetime and replacing them with positive ones is not easily done. I struggle with it every day. 

But I can tell you this. The more often I’m able to recognize and correct my negative thoughts, the more positive changes occur in my life — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you find yourself struggling with the destructive results of “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” or questioning your every decision, consider reading “The Power of Decision.”

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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