Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

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Shining the spotlight on Mindtrap #1!

“I’ve had a great many troubles in my life… most of which never happened.”

Mark Twain

Do you worry about the future? Has what you worry about ever happened, and in the meantime how much time have you spent rocking your nervous system and taking yourself out of the present moment? We are the only mammals that spend so much time in the past or the future. Why is that?

 

The truth is, as our brains evolve we developed a bigger pre-frontal cortex which is a blessing for planning, keeping track, logical thinking, remembering… but it also lets us imagine things that never happen. If you tend towards the worry brain, you know well that your brain will trick you into thinking there is a good possibility you will fall off the stage, pee your pants in public, be in the next plane crash, totally screw up that meeting, develop cancer and not get everything done that needs to get done… and then you realize you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. More often than not, these fears come in the form of what others will think.  I have found that most often what people imagine others think or feel can often be way off target ie. completely wrong.  At any rate, what others think is actually not your problem. What you think, is.

In psychology this is what we call catastrophizing, or awfulizing as one of my clients coined it.  It wreaks havoc on your physical and mental health and is completely unproductive use of your precious time. Obviously we have to be reasonable when making decisions around safety, but often we are talking about emotional safety.

The first step is to be aware…  recognize when you are in this pattern. You may spot the awfulizing thoughts or notice a feeling in the pit of your stomach, or tense shoulders.

Ask yourself… “What are the chances of that happening?” In all likelihood, very low. Is this fear real or imagined? Don’t let awfulizing hold you back from living your life……

Next… so what if that actually happened? If I forgot my lines and fell off the stage.. well, someone would come to my rescue and we would probably have a good laugh. In other words, I would survive.

Also… “Do I have any control over this?”  If not, surrender it to the universe. If you’re already on that airplane, take some super deep breaths and realize that fate is not in your hands…..

As always, use mindfulness to come back to the present moment and focus on what you ARE doing…. less thinking, more action.

Congratulate yourself for stopping to examine the unseen forces that control your life and keep you living smaller than the amazing human being that you are! What are you catastrophizing about?

 

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Anais Nin

 

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