I find talking to myself helps a great deal. We often forget that we are our own best friends. Taking the responsibility to intervene on your own behalf is a very important part of breaking the cycle of distress and anxiety.

I can make myself go off the deep end by playing and replaying conversations in my head or by going over something that might happen. My inner saboteurs love to tease and torment me.


I particularly hate injustices, and I will spend precious moments playing the Ping-Pong match of who said what, the fact they shouldn’t have said it and how unfair it is. I can get into it almost to the point of obsession, like a song you hear that you can’t get out of your head.


I find talking to myself helps a great deal. We often forget that we are our own best friends. Taking the responsibility to intervene on your own behalf is an important part of breaking the cycle of distress and anxiety.


When you find yourself awfulizing, catastrophizing and thinking about what you “should” have said, consider doing the following:


First and foremost, you might want to consider not “shoulding” on yourself.


Secondly, if you want an immediate reaction, just yell, “Stop it!” or “Shut up!” The irony is that you’re yelling at yourself for having thoughts you can’t control, but it seems to startle the mind into obeying. You need to be forceful and loud. If possible, use expletives.


Obviously, this precludes using the technique when you’re at a social event or in church. Assigning a four-letter word to a number works well and is quite comical. You can shout out numbers all you want and no one will catch on.


Last summer when I was taking my daily walk and in the middle of an internal torture session that was going nowhere, I decided to take forceful action. I started shouting “shut up” and numbers from one through 10.


Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed that one of my neighbors was standing close to the road, watering his lawn despite a watering ban. He looked at me red-faced and muttered that he hoped I wouldn’t tell anyone.


After muttering “OK,” I quickly walked away, because I was about to burst into laughter and I didn’t want him to see me. This made me realize that I should look around before I shout out again because “they” may take me away. I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” are everywhere. The good news is that if “they” do take me away, it will be a short trip.


Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth 02360, send e-mail to getalife@lorettalaroche.com, visit the Web site at www.stressed.com, or call toll-free 800-99-TADAH (82324).