Think Positively using the “Spin Zone”

There is so much cognitive research on the power of positive thinking that it’s impossible to ignore it. Thinking positively changes your perception of everything that happens around you. So to rephrase Lou Holtz’s famous quote with my own words: Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you perceive it.

Do you ever feel like everything’s going wrong, and things seem to be snowballing into an avalanche? That’s not an uncommon feeling. But what if you could stop this avalanche? Most of the time you can by altering your perception of the negative events around you. That’s where the “Spin Zone” comes in.

The “Spin Zone” is a positive thinking exercise inspired by a friend from university. In its essence, the “Spin Zone” involves the positive reframing of an event or situation that you initially perceive as being negative. When a bunch of negative issues seem to be piling on top of me, here’s how I employ the technique:

Step 1: Write Down Everything Negative before Bedtime

On a piece of paper, write down everything about your life that you perceive to be negative. Start with the biggest problems on your mind, and keep writing until you have written down everything that’s troubling you.

Step 2: Feel Sorry for Yourself

There’s obviously a negative stigma associated with people who feel sorry themselves, but the truth of the matter is that sometimes feeling sorry for yourself feels damn good. And sometimes its necessary. If you can go from feeling crappy to feeling great in a matter of seconds, you might just be a psychopath. It’s totally human to let yourself feel bad. Do this right before you go to bed, but don’t complain to others, because that can bring them down as well. Bringing other people down is not part of the ‘Spin Zone’ technique.

Step 3: Go to Sleep

With your thoughts written down, sleep on it.

Step 4: The Spin Zone — Write Down a Positive Corollary to Everything Negative

When you wake up in the morning, before you start your day, revisit your list that you wrote the night before. Look for things you have control over that you can change. If you have control over the situation, write down all the things you can do to change the negative situation into a positive one.

If you can’t immediately take control of the situation, try and find some positive aspects within it. Even if you’re upset about something that seemed like it was a total failure, there’s usually something positive you can draw from it, even if that positive is that it was a learning experience. Write those positive aspects down.

While you’re writing down everything you can change and reframing things to seem more positive, use confident, empowering words. Take it over the top. Become a general rallying his troops in the epic final scene of war movie: I will do this, because I am the fucking greatest there ever was.

Step 5: Cross out the list of negatives; then, if necessary, revisit the list and re-read all the positive things you wrote down. Do this as many times as you need.

Here’s an Example of the Spin Zone Exercise:

Before Bed:

  1. My boss is requesting an unreasonable amount of effort from me, and my work is suffering.
  2. I gave an awful presentation in a meeting yesterday. All of my data was wrong, and I looked like a total imbecile.
  3. I got into a fight with my significant other.

In the Morning:

  1. Today I’m going to talk to my boss and let her know that I’m struggling to produce quality work given my current workload. I will let her know that I will get this work done, though. She gave me so much responsibility because I’m the most capable worker on the team, and I always do the best job of anyone. I will bust my ass to do the best damn job she’s ever seen, but in the future, I’ll let my boss know that she’s going to have to be more considerate with project delegations.
  2. This problem was a result of having too much work. Once I get through this week, I’ll have more time to do a quality job. Now that I think back, I only messed up two things in the presentation and the majority of it was actually correct. Everyone on my team knows that I usually do a great job — this was just a small slip up. I’m a great speaker and they asked me to do the presentation in the first place because I normally always do the best job. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s in the past now. Everyone trusts that I’ll bounce back, and I know I will.
  3. Okay, actually it was a small argument. It was stupid, really. I was stressed out about work, and I yelled at her over something stupid. I need to apologize. I’ll explain why I acted the way I did. Everything is fine — I just need to talk to her.

As you can see from this example, many “problems” are interconnected; hence, the “snowball effect.” Being proactive or simply reframing one situation can help to create a more positive outlook on everything that you initially perceived as negative. That’s the power of positive thinking. Once you change your mind-state, things are never as bad as they seem. Even if everything isn’t sunshine and rainbows, life is way more fun when you make everything seem awesome.