Photo by pcamp; Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes I think I should be writing a food blog instead of a personal finance blog, especially given the number of food entries I have posted (see grits, chocolate cake, marshmallows, soup, and lomi lomi salmon).

Today, I focus on stew. Not the Irish beef stew or the vegetable stew, but the kind of stew where you find yourself obsessing or ruminating (“stewing”) about a difficult situation, and you cannot seem to put any distance between yourself and your thoughts about the topic.

For instance, it is easy to get wrapped up in all of the talk about the economy. It is also easy to get hooked in by worries about one’s personal financial future.

When you start stewing, how can you take a step back and look at things from a different perspective? How can you achieve some emotional distance? How can you shift your thinking a bit so that your body has a chance to recover from the physiological stress reaction that is likely occurring?

Here are some things to try:

  • Try to see the humor in the situation. Is there some aspect of the situation that is genuinely funny?
  • Talk to someone (preferably an objective party) about the situation. Sharing it with someone else often helps you widen your perspective.
  • Ask yourself: “How important will this situation be in one week? One month? One year?  Five years?”
  • Complete this statement: “I am certainly glad that I am not ____________________.”
  • Imagine taking a helicopter ride or a hot air balloon ride above the situation. See your financial problems beneath you on the ground getting smaller and smaller.
  • Consider the distressing thought(s) that you are obsessing about. Ask yourself:
  1. Are my thoughts based on fact?
  2. Are my thoughts helping me to achieve my goals?
  3. Will my thoughts help me to feel and act the way I need to feel and act?
  4. Is my thinking in my best interest, or can I change it?

How do you achieve greater perspective when you find yourself stewing?