Thinking Away the Crap
Bill Cottringer

“Keep writing. Try to do a little bit every day, even if the result looks like crap. Getting from page four to page five is more important than spending three weeks getting page four perfect.”
~Alan Dean Foster.

I am not going to apologize for the use of the vulgar word ‘crap” in the title because that is just what it is. Crap happens. And that is the crap you can’t think away or feel into oblivion. But there is another level of crappier crap that we add to this first level of crap, that you can think away once you see through it and disregard the unnecessary mental shackles it keeps you in bondage with.

Back in my mental health counseling days I had an interesting supervisor who was completing his doctoral dissertation on depression. I thought that was a pretty gloomy research project, but he was excited about his thesis regarding a concept he called the ‘vicious circle,” or feeling depressed about being depressed and thinking the hopelessness was forever hopeless. The idea did pique my interest for awhile but I had ADHD and so other things quickly caught my attention.

The supervisor was convinced that this vicious circle concept was the key to successful intervention with helping depressed patients to become un-depressed. He thought that level of thinking was changeable. Back then I thought this was all a load of intellectual crap. Ha, little did I know. I was too busy trying out more radical approaches like helping psychotic patients videotape the FBI spying on them or getting depressed people to plan their funerals.

Now nearly 40-years later I totally understand what “thinking away the crap” means. When a crappy event happens to us we naturally feel crappy about it. And there is absolutely nothing we can do to undue this crappy feeling until we figure out how to undo the event. That is if we get the chance, which we usually don’t. But regardless, all this would be quite fine if that is were we stopped. But unfortunately it isn’t.

When the crappy event happens and we feel crappy, we continue this crap game by feeling crappy about feeling crappy and then start thinking more crap about feeling so crappy about the original crap that happened. We become totally immersed in crap and that is way too much crap even for a waste disposal professional.

Pause and laugh about this vicious circle we all get caught up in—feeling bad about something bad that happens and then feeling bad about feeling bad and thinking there is something wrong because we are doing that and that this is all a permanent state of eternal badness. Are you laughing yet?

Now go ahead and cry about it because it ruins a lot of lives and wastes a lot of time interfering with our main purpose in life, which is to grow and improve into our best selves so we can become more and more successful in getting rid of all the crap so we can enjoy what is left behind—the joy to enjoy. It sure takes some people a long time to see this point, me included. Better late than never though.

It is one thing feeling bad or guilty when something bad or guilt-worthy happens, or being anxious or fearful about something that is anxiety or fear-producing. But, by feeling bad, guilty, anxious or afraid about feeling bad, guilty, anxious or afraid, we are just adding to the impact of the initial event and how it made us feel. And this added level of negativity keeps any positive thinking from getting any airtime.

This second level of negativity keeps us from getting over the first level because we don’t have any energy to use to undo the event and get rid of the source or try to think it away. What we really want to do is to move onto to enjoy the positive feelings that are waiting in the wind for someone to feel them in a very natural cycle of feeling bad and then feeling good. This is the roller-coaster of life—failing to succeed, feeling bad to feel good, and worrying to un-worry.

Have you ever experienced the deadly hold that this vicious circle can have on us all? Silly question! Of course you have. This is why they make movies like “Momma Mia.” This is just one way you can think away the crap. Try it, you will like it. Feeling bad isn’t fatal or permanent, it is only temporary, so find a way to peel away the second level of feeling bad so you can think more positively. That is something under your control.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Belleview, WA. And also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, and Reality Repair coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or