We cause our own distress if we magnify the difficulty of our tasks. Our tasks are already real: there is no need to magnify them. Our language should not make hills into mountains. Making mountains out of hills is a habit to avoid. Refusing to add incendiary language to our everyday self-talk is a habit to cultivate.

If we say, “Let me call that gallery,” we have added no unnecessary distress to an already charged task. If we say, “Let me call that gallery, but where did I put that number, and I’ll probably get a machine, but what if I get a person, what would I say then, and I’m not sure I really want that gallery, but if I don’t get it I won’t be represented anywhere, and … ”, then we have worked ourselves up and made it more likely that we won’t call. If we do manage to call, it’s more likely that we’ll handle the call poorly.

Why do we magnify our difficulties? We magnify them for all sorts of understandable reasons. Maybe our tasks feel that difficult. Maybe it pleases us to see ourselves burdened by the sorts of difficulties that only a warrior hero could meet: when and if we manage to handle such “huge” difficulties we boost our ego. Maybe there is some emotional payoff to feeling ourselves victimized, beleaguered, and put-upon. Maybe life feels boring and we crave the dramas we create when we pour fuel on small fires. These are common, completely human reasons for engaging in a practice that fails to serve us.

Practice the habit of not magnifying difficulties. You do not need to shrink difficulties and act as if they do not exist. Just don’t magnify them. Picture possessing a magnifying glass that does not magnify but that simply let’s you see what is there. Imagine how an ant would look through that sort of glass. Imagine how an everyday task would look. The ant looks tiny; probably so does the task. Get in the habit of using a non-magnifying glass! Even if there is some payoff in turning ordinary difficulties into huge internal dramas the downside is significantly greater.


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