Riding Coattails

by Scott Noelle

Hopefulness and optimism can help you make peace with unwanted conditions and behavior. You can talk yourself into a more optimistic groove by “riding the coattails” of past successes — yours or others’.

Suppose your child is taking a long time to fall asleep, and you’re feeling frustrated. Instead of thinking, “He’s never going to fall asleep,” which makes you feel worse, recall past situations that turned out well: “He always falls asleep eventually, and there have been times when he went out like a lightbulb.”

Then focus on your own experience: “I’ve handled challenges like this before... I’m good at waiting when I relax into it... Some of my most satisfying experiences involved a lot of waiting, and I’ve always said it was worth the wait...” Etc.

A feeling of relief will wash over you as you release resistance and make peace with What Is.

Paradoxically, outer conditions and behaviors are more likely to improve once you no longer “need” them to change.

Originally published on 2006-07-07
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