They say bad things come in threes, you’ve heard this right? Like those days when it all seems to start wrong. You oversleep, then spill your coffee on yourself on the way out the door, and you just know that something else bad is going to happen. Of course, I am speaking totally from personal experience.
We see this happen with celebrity deaths, too. Remember when Bowie died, and we were all still mourning then came the shocking news Alan Rickman died? Not only were we sad to lose two great artistic geniuses, we all braced ourselves for the third.
I had a good friend email me recently that two colleagues were fired in the course of two weeks. She noticed she was holding her breath, waiting for the third firing to happen. It felt like it was looming.
She noticed herself waiting for that third firing, and felt inspired to write a little for me and for my blog. Here is what she shared with me:
“If you are like me, when waiting for the "third death" there is a looming feeling and a holding of the breath until it happens. I take stock of my life, friends, family and health. There is reflection of all the good and wonderful moments and also a sense of action: I need to exercise, eat better, set-up that will, take care of my s***!
I've been having this same feeling as I await hearing who might be the "third fired." I might complain about my job some days, but I really need it and mostly like it. I like my office and my co-workers and my paycheck! I like having purpose every day and being part of a team. I don't want to be fired! But much like death, it can happen--and for any number of reasons (either on my part or my company's part).
(then I stopped writing...if I want to keep my job, I guess I should do it instead of writing this email! haha!)”
Thanks to my friend for taking the time to write to me and share her thoughts about this because it made me realize we all suffer this. This phenomenon is also called “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
I am here to tell you to stop caring about the damn shoes. It’s not about the shoes, it’s not about waiting for a thing to happen, or bracing yourself for the worst.
Here’s exactly why you shouldn’t focus on waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When we focus on something, our brains are programmed to literally search until it finds the missing piece. The brain loves to solve problems. And the problem that is created in this situation is “something bad is going to happen, because it has to because of the law of threes.” So the brain will work and search until it solves this problem.
Rarely does the brain work to disprove this theory because we have set up a scenario where it says “Bad things come in three and this must be true.” It is like programming a computer, and giving it exact parameters. It is not giving an option to look for reasons why it must NOT be true, instead it is trying to prove why it must be true. It is just the way the code is written.
Here is the important thing. This code that bad things happen in threes is NOT true. When I searched for the third celebrity death after Alan Rickman, there wasn’t another major death for over a month (Harper Lee died on February 19).
The rule of threes is a completely made up phenomenon. If you are looking for the third bad thing to happen, then your brain will most certainly find it. It will not rest until it does. Or it will get distracted by something else and choose to focus on that other thing instead.
So the next time you find yourself holding your breath and bracing for the third worst thing, the best thing you can do is recognize that is happening and then distract yourself. What is more important? I actually like how my friend said she directs her attention to taking stock in her life. What is working? What would she like to see improve?
Even better would be if you can use the good ol’ attitude of gratitude. What do you love in your life right now. Write 20 things. Yes, that might sound like a big number but remember we are reprogramming your brain to distract from feeling bad and waiting for something bad to happen. So, what is good? What are you grateful for? It’s even better if you can get really specific. A recent item on my gratitude list was “My soft sheets because I got a really cozy night’s sleep last night.”
Instead of looking for the bad, train your brain to look for the good. What is good about your day, what are the other good things that you can find?
And if you’re going to care about shoes, at least choose a cute pair that makes you feel sexy and awesome.