Getting Unstuck

I am reminded these days as pandemic fatigue drags on of a practice that philosopher William Irvine calls negative visualization. In short, it is the act of imagining things which are blessings in your life, and then to pause and imagine them gone. Doing this practice has helped me feel less stuck and more grateful. It reminded me of ways I really do care about certain people and certain elements of my life- even my annoying little barky dog Evie.

There is a danger in this practice of gaslighting- dismissing the true depths that people find themselves in. But at the same time it offers some tools for how to choose to respond to things. It helped me learn a new way of practicing gratitude.

I really appreciated this podcast from Hidden Brain (link below)- which uses the seasonally relevant movie Groundhog’s day to illustrate how to move out of being stuck. Actor Bill Murray is a weather forecaster that gets trapped in a bad day over and over, and desperately wants a way out. The podcast talks about using negative visualization to accept some things, reject others, and move forward.

If you would like a longer explanation about negative visualization, I truly enjoyed Irvine’s book called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

And the podcast below is a short look into this practice and a reminder about how Bill Murray finds his way out of a repetitive loop. A repetitive loop is what I feel in these depths of February, at this stage of Omicron, and as a health care provider, wishing things to be different and new again.


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