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Karen Maleck-Whiteley: Get a new point of view to ditch stressful thoughts

Live Well Stress Less

Posted: March 5, 2009 9:57 p.m.
Updated: March 5, 2009 9:48 p.m.
Lately, I have been listening to my friends, clients, and family members lately talking about the situations we all find ourselves in.

Many are in various states of financial distress — losing jobs, taking pay cuts to keep jobs, putting off retirement, or just plain worrying about the daily news about the markets. Others are experiencing different kinds of life stress — relationship issues, illness, a lost pet, having trouble sleeping. Some of us are O.K., but are worried about our loved ones who are facing these challenges.

It is true that things really are tough for many of us, but it does help to remember we have the ability to control our thoughts and direct them in ways that are more useful and make us feel better.

If you are stuck in a situation that is causing you pain and stress, take a moment to consider your point of view, and try changing it. Here are some common points of view that may be stressing you out, and ideas for how to change your point of view.

Focusing too big

When we listen to the news about the country or the world, and allow ourselves to be affected negatively by it, we are falling into a common trap. Ask yourself whether you can do anything directly about the things you are worried about. If the answer is “No” — like it would be for the national unemployment rate, let it go.   

Focusing too big also happens when we think about a huge problem and it overwhelms us. We see no way out and do not know where to start. If this is happening to you, take some time out to write out all the parts of the problem or issue, and focus on addressing one piece at a time. One step leads to another, and so on. This is the same approach used by climbers on Mt. Everest. As you take each action, you see progress where none seemed possible when you were looking at the entire mountain of the problem, and thinking you needed to surmount it all at once.

It is also useful to notice whether you are magnifying a small problem into a big one. If my car breaks down, it doesn’t ruin my entire life, but I may be acting like it is. If you are doing this, stop right now! Tell the truth about your situation, and notice where things are going right.
Focusing too small
This happens when we are constantly focused on all the little things we need to get done instead  of the one or two big things that would make a difference to us, or which we have been avoiding. It might feel good for an hour or two to clean out all your drawers and re-roll your socks, but if what you need to tackle is your income tax form or an important conversation with your boss, it isn’t going to feel good later on.    

Another version of this occurs when we only see one part of an issue. If you have a payment plan in place for one of your charge cards, but you haven’t made a budget to address your spending and you are still using other cards, you haven’t solved your real problem.

Again, work on telling the truth about your situation, and define your problem accurately. If you need help thinking bigger about your issue, ask a friend or professional for advice.

Believing what you see is the Whole Truth (or Even the Truth At All)

We are a culture of “I’ll believe it when I see it” people. This thinking doesn’t really help us in most circumstances. The truth is there are always more vantage points in any situation. Each one you explore allows you to know more about what you are seeing — just like in that movie of the same name.

There are always more possible solutions out there.  When it is dark for us at night in our homes, the sun is still shining — we just can’t see it from our current point of view. But we could if we changed our current position to Australia. If we went to a point somewhere in the solar system, we could see that the sun is ALWAYS shining. Changing your point of view on whatever situation you are in can give you more ways to get more information and ideas, see more possible paths and resources.  

Here are some other ways to change your point of view:
  • Ask yourself how someone else would see it, or what they would do. Pick a friend you admire, a public figure, a teacher or coach you had.
  • Think about what this issue will look like 5, 10, 25 or 100 years from now. Will it matter?
  • Project into the future. Think about what you and your life will be like when the problem has been solved — what did that version of you have to do to deal with the situation?
  • Consider whether you really need to even worry about or solve this right now. Is it even your problem or situation to solve? Let other people own their issues.
  • Pretend you are viewing your situation and yourself as though you are watching what is happening on TV. See what it all looks like when you are not in the situation.
  • Physically move and change your point of view. Walk around, sit somewhere else, take a break, drive to the ocean, run in a park, play with your dog, or dance around your living room. Engaging your senses and body helps to trigger your mind to be more creative, make new connections, and relax.  
We always have more options than we can see, and more power than we know. Try some of these ideas on whatever is stressing you and see how changing your point of view can help.

Karen Maleck-Whiteley is a certified hypnotherapist, coach, speaker, and author. She is also the co-owner of Balance Point Spa in Canyon Country. If you would like more information or assistance in changing your point of view through hypnotherapy or coaching, call (661) 252-0650. Find out more by visiting,, and  


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