Our brains are wired to interpret situations and try to explain what happened automatically. This is especially true of situations that leave us feeling upset. Perhaps you received disappointing news, or someone said something that triggered negative emotions. It’s essential to pause and realize that asking yourself one powerful question can help ease your thoughts and, in turn, your feelings surrounding the situation.
One of the most powerful questions I ask my clients is, “What are you making this mean?” The reason it’s so powerful is that it forces your brain to stop and realize it’s an interpretation your brain is coming up with, usually around a situation that’s upsetting you.
I remember the first time I heard this question, and I believe it was watching a Byron Katie video on YouTube. She asked the client, “What are you making it mean?” That question stopped me dead in my tracks. It also helped me realize that there’s a choice in my interpretation of events and situations that upset me. So whenever I’m really upset about somebody else’s actions or behaviors in a situation that is not appealing to me, I stop and ask myself, what am I making this be? And it just slows down my brain and allows me to see that there is a choice and how I interpret events and situations. From there, I often move to a better feeling and come up with a different interpretation that feels better.
So, when you’re upset, stop and take a minute to ask yourself, what am I making this mean? Know that it’s optional. Then from there, you can decide intentionally to choose a different interpretation that feels a little or a lot better.
I would love to connect if you would like support around this or any other topic. Please reach out here.
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.