Sometimes when you are bothered by something, you may feel better
if you consciously exaggerate the irritant to the point of absurdity.
You may feel stupid because you forgot to turn off the stove before you left home, and not only is the stew burnt to a crisp, but the pot will take days to scrub clean. You berate yourself for your negligence. Now is a good time to think, Yes, and on the evening news, CNN will broadcast to the entire world that Judith burned the dinner and ruined the pot. All the parliaments in the world will interrupt what they are doing and take up the problem of Judiths stew and her pot. Everyone on the street will be talking about it, and if I go shopping downtown, everybody will be saying, Look, there goes Judith! Shes the one who burned the stew and ruined the pot. Before long youll be laughing at
I recall a woman who was referred to me
because she had undergone radiation treatment for a lesion on her nose. There was a blemish on her nose which would eventually heal completely, but she was beside herself with anxiety about how ugly this made her look. Her husband and her doctor had tried to reassure her, but she was inconsolable.
I saw no reason to believe that my reassurances would be any more effective. Instead I said, Oh, I knew about that, Becky. I was listening to the dialogue between the astronauts in orbit and the control center, and I heard the astronauts say, Weve got our cameras and telescope focused on Beckys nose, and we can see that red spot from way up here. In fact, it is so bright that it obscures the sun. How can the country continue to function when Beckys nose looks so terrible? Are you sure that we will be safe up here and that the people at the space center will not be distracted by Beckys nose? I knew it would be only a matter of time before you would come to me with this horrendous problem that is upsetting the entire world.
In spite of herself, Becky began to laugh. Youre making fun of me, she said. No, I am not, I said. You are the one that is making fun of yourself by making that tiny little spot the focus of your life. No one else notices it or cares about it. Becky
agreed, and the situation was defused.
Very often, things bother us because we blow them out of proportion. If shrinking them down to size doesnt work, try the opposite.
Exaggerate them to the point of absurdity, and you may be able to see how relatively trivial they really are.