Today, I’m trying something different. I’m not just going to drop a recipe on you. (But, yes, I will be linking a great recipe for homemade bagels from Sally’s Baking Addiction at the end of the post.) I’m going to talk about the concept of realistic thinking, and how it is changing my life, using the example of baking some damn good bagels.
As I said in my post about rethinking my blogging schedule, my goal is to put out some great content, and I think in order to do that I have to dig deeper into my personal experience to come up with more unique posts that really resonate—while still focusing on my topics of minimalism and homemaking (and organization, and dogs). So here is my attempt to do that. I hope you enjoy reading and perhaps find something important to take away from this post.
Last week, in a very homemaker-y mood, I decided to make my own bagels. I was inspired by a homemaking vlog by Mrs. Midwest (Caitlin Huber) on YouTube. I have always loved baking, but I rarely diverge from my standard cookies, although I have on occasion made a great cake or loaf of bread (and a miserable batch of biscuits). So there was something about bagels that seemed intimidating to me, even after watching the video, which showed that the process was, in fact, pretty simple. It was then that I realized: I am afraid to make bagels. I am afraid to try. I realized something else as well: this fear was not related to baking at all, but rather an ingrained fear of failure that I have in life in general. I was, apparently, thinking: “I will fail at everything I try,” or, “I am just a failure.”
This type of thought, often developed in early childhood, can be called a “core belief,” or something you believe to be entirely true about yourself (or someone else, or the world). It can be very hard to change these core beliefs, but it is important to try. It is important to challenge our preconceived notions and misconceptions, especially when they are making us unhappy.
I have been working really hard on realistic thinking lately, because I have a tendency to lean toward a more negative perspective. But positive thinking isn’t helpful either; realistic thinking entails a more objective analysis of any thoughts you are having, rather than just changing negative thinking into positive, which may not be entirely believable or true.
Here’s where the bagels come in. I was nervous to get started because I thought that maybe I would mess them up. Maybe they wouldn’t turn out perfectly, or even be edible. In my mind, this would prove that I was, in fact, a failure. But, using realistic thinking, I pushed through, using a skill that I have learned called “reality testing”; I challenged myself to come up with some actual possible outcomes: what would be the worst thing that could happen if I failed? The answer I came up with? A lack of bagels. (I nixed a train of thought ending in the house burning down because I knew from experience that that type of thinking would definitely get me nowhere.)
The key here is that, if I did fail, I would have to get over it, and chalk it up to a failed experiment, rather than equating it with a personal failure. But I didn’t; I succeeded with flying colors! The bagels turned out SO GOOD. And once I got past my fears, making bagels at home was easy and fun. This project was a small step in the right direction to overcoming my fear of failure. The point isn’t that I succeeded—it’s that I tried. I was afraid to do it, and I did it anyway, because I used realistic thinking to push back against a negative belief I had about myself. If you find yourself in a situation like mine, try to do some reality testing, and you may find out that the truth is not necessarily the same thing as what you believe.
By the way, here is that amazing bagel recipe.
Is this type of content something you’d like to see more of? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!