Father’s Day is this Sunday. For some, the holiday is a joyous occasion to celebrate the men in our lives who earned our love, trust and respect. But for others, it’s another reminder of what we lost, never had or will never be.
There may be things you’re already doing to prepare for the day. But have you planned ways to protect your emotional health?
I’ve been reading The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. In it, he shares several creative techniques to improve your mood, change your thoughts and accept your current situation. If you’re heading to Father’s Day with fear and anguish, you might want to experiment with some of his exercises.
One is to focus on a negative thought and imagine it spoken in the voice of a humorous cartoon or movie character. For example, how would it sound if, “I’ll never be a good enough father,” in the voice of Darth Vader, Yoda or someone like Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler or Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Another exercise is to imagine something you’re dreading, maybe a Father’s Day filled with conflict and tension. But see it as if it was on TV. Change the color of the screen. Visualize the screen stretching or upside down. The intent Harris says is to realize it’s just, “a harmless picture.” If after a few minutes the image is still bothering you, he suggests adding a subtitle to the image. If you envision your father criticizing you as usual, a good title might be, “Oops! He did it again.” Or if this is a story you tell yourself repetitively, you could say something like, “Messed Up Dad.”
The idea is to play with your fears and concerns to defuse it, taking back your power from a thought that hasn’t even happen yet. It’s putting you back in the driver’s seat so you can control how you feel in this moment.
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