When You Can't Shake It, Replace It


The other morning I woke up with a song stuck in my head. (To make sure it doesn't get stuck in your head, I won't tell you what it was. You have enough things going on.)

I don't easily get rid of a song in my head, apparently. It lingered, playing on endless loop in my mind as I got ready for work. The only way to stop the cycle was turning the radio on while driving to work. I couldn't seem to shake the song on my own, but I could replace it.

This seems like good life advice. When you can't shake it, replace it.

I'm trying this premise to help me with what I eat and drink. For example, when I struggle to shake a Dr Pepper craving, instead of relying on willpower, tenuous as it sometimes is, I try to replace it with a large glass of water.

I find this premise good for my thought life, too. When I'm worried about a bad outcome, I replace worry with prayer. When I'm discouraged, I try to replace those downward meditations by remembering something I'm grateful for.

It's not avoidance. It's strategic. Just like I can't hold two songs in my head at the same time, I can't simultaneously drink Dr Pepper when I'm drinking water. I can't simultaneously dwell on something negative when I'm focused on something positive.

Think about how lifeguards call out walk! when someone runs on the pool deck. They're not calling out, "Don't run!" They don't even mention the undesirable behavior. Instead, they simply call out the good behavior they want to see: walk!

That song stuck in my head? I didn't get rid of it by willpower. It left my thoughts because it was replaced.

When you can't shake something bad, don't just try to muscle through it. Instead, replace it with something good.

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