Apr 06, 2022

Today I’ve got a great story for you!


First, the story:

When my son was just a toddler, (can you believe he's turning seventeen this June?!) my husband and I rented a summer lake house with my friend and her family for a week.

The vacation was great! Our vacation house was right on the water in Washington state, with a nice lawn, a little beach and several kayaks.

One day my husband took our little guy out for his first-ever kayak ride and it was a BIG hit.

After they returned and beached the kayak, my son wanted to continue to play in the boat.

But I wanted him to get out of the kayak so that we could put it away.

A small-scale toddler melt-down ensued.

My friend came down to the beach to see what all the ruckus was about...

I explained to her that my kid wanted to play in the kayak but, I reasoned, if we don’t put it away, he’d badger me non-stop about taking the boat out again and again and again (as toddlers are known to do!)

My friend listened, but she had a sort of twisted, perplexed look on her face.

She thought about it a sec and then she point-blank asked me:

“How do you know that’s what’s going to happen?”

To which I replied:

“I’m anticipating that’s what’s going to happen.”

She waited another couple of seconds and then she came in real close to me and she said something to me that I’ll never forget.

It might very well be one of the smartest things anyone has ever said to me!

It continues to be a difficult lesson for me to act upon.

Over these last dozen years, I have repeated what she said to me, in my own head, so many times, under so many different circumstances that I’ve lost count!

She came right up close to me, put one of her hands on each of my arms, looked into my eyes and she firmly told me:

“Dinneen, don’t anticipate problems!”

…and then she turned and strolled back up to the house.

I remember standing there, turning her words over in my head, but not really comprehending.

If I don’t anticipate problems, how on earth could I be prepared for every possible situation?! Doesn't make any sense.

I’ve always been an anticipator! That’s exactly how I prepare for every imaginable outcome.

>> I’M ON IT << (whatever IT may be!)

Later that evening, over a glass of wine, I told her that she was right; that my kid just wanted to play in the kayak for a few more minutes. He didn’t even ask to go back out on the water.

In a lame effort to rationalize my role in our family outburst by the water that afternoon, I shared with her that the reason I anticipate problems is so that I can prepare for what's next.

She nodded, but then she again shared her perspective with me…

She suggested that in anticipating what might come next, in an effort to avoid difficulty, that I might actually be creating more problems and generating more unnecessary stress.

She reasoned that:

1. Worrying in your head about something that might never happen and then

2. Having to deal with it when it does happen puts you in line for the same stress twice

“Why would you sign up for that?!” she queried.

Food for thought, indeed!

NOT anticipating problems reduces feelings of overwhelm and it can arrest "analysis paralysis" and the ever-exhausting "decision fatigue".

Having just lived through the pandemic, these feelings are normal and on the rise.

There’s no doubt that anticipation of stress causes more stress.

Just like anticipation of pain causes more pain.

Haha....Now do you see where I’m going with this story?? :)

Stress increases our sensitivity to pain.

Anticipation of both increases both!

So... the question is: How can we reduce stress so that we can reduce pain?

The THINK section of my program is all about pain science and the many ways we can learn to discern what our body is trying to tell us, including when it's reeling in anticipation, fear, stress or pain.

How about you? Do you anticipate problems?

Whenever you happen to be reading this article, I cordially invite you to do this challenge with me this week:


  1. For the next seven days I challenge you to just deal with what’s in front of you

  2. The next time you feel yourself anticipating problems, take a deep breath and repeat to yourself, “I’m just going to focus on what’s in front of me”

    (or feel free to come up with another phrase that works for you)

  3. Use the hashtags #retrainbackpain #dontanticipateproblems” on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)

  4. Share a photo or video of what comes up for you too and remember to add the #retrainbackpain #dontanticipateproblems hashtags on your photos too!

  5. You must use both of the hashtags to be entered in to the drawing

  6. This Challenge is good until April 12th, 2022 (afterwards you're encouraged to challenge yourself but the prize opportunity will already have expired)

Keep up the good work!