This is a flexibility challenge. Try to figure out a way that all these situations could be wonderful, instead of accepting the negative interpretation that immediately comes to mind. Practice putting on different colored lenses until you find a “right interpretation” for the description.
Example Situation: You and your family have almost no food to eat–less than a day’s worth. You are all sleeping out the on the ground with very little to cover you, and the nearest help is miles away.
Example Situation’s Happy Interpretation: You are on a family camping trip with a sumptuous feast in your backpacks. You stay overnight after a scenic day’s hike, enjoy your fireside repast, crawl into your thin summer sleeping bags, and watch the stars until sleep comes. The next morning you hike back perfectly refreshed.
For the rest of these situations, try not to use any explanation more than once.
1. You are up to your neck in a liquid that contains a wide variety of poisonous chemicals.
2. You’re resisting and violently struggling with someone who eventually overpowers you and pushes you out of a plane without a parachute.
3. Your body is aching with burning sensations.
4. Slowly, again and again, a needle is inserted into your body.
5. Many people all around you are counting on you in an extremely tense situation. They watch you closely, some are quite desperate. Then, right before their eyes, you fail them, and all they wanted is left unfulfilled.
6. You viciously kill an attacker. So hard do you strike out that your own blood is mixed with the remains of your victim.
7. Someone tells you, quite seriously, “You are going to die. Prepare yourself.”
8. You’re colder than you have EVER been in your entire life. You can hardly breathe. In your fear, you are almost certain that you are dying. The brightest light you have ever seen shines painfully into your eyes. Then the worst pain you have EVER felt in your entire life hits you.
Happy solutions are given below the questions section.
What’s more important when interpreting a situation, my imagination or the context of the situation?
How do words, and how they are strung together, so strongly overpower my neutrality? How often do I allow an “inner jury” to consider something before I have an opinion about a situation?
Do I always have an interpretive choice or do some words and phrases always say what they mean?
How often do I assume the wrong context for a situation? Should I become more aloof or scientific about my conclusions?
Why do I feel like these situations are unfairly worded? Who promised me that this exercise wouldn’t cheat?
Are any of life’s tragic situations interpretable, or is the meaning of all of them absolute? Wars? Famine? Genocide? Suicide?
How often do I apply a false interpretation to a behavior of mine so that it seems better? Do I tell white lies?
When I look into the mirror, how happy am I with my looks? Do I think photographs look like me?
Do I lie to children? Do I attempt to pre-filter reality for them to save them from something?
1. You are swimming in a pool with chlorine and other highly diluted chemicals.
2. You’re a stunt-person on a movie set.
3. You are in a gym working out and going for the burn.
4. You are getting acupuncture.
5. You are Greg Norman and come in third in the Masters, but you win hundreds of thousands of dollars playing a game you love.
6. You swat a mosquito.
7. Your friend wants to tell you about the latest thriller movie with incredible special effects and exaggerates in a typical fashion.
8. You are being born.