I’ve been communicating about and celebrating my successes here lately so here’s an example of different type of success, a thoroughly successful self sabotaging succumbing to worry. Though the great thing is that none of this process of realising is ever a failure.
Similar to the last example though this time I allowed myself be a passive recipient of unsubstantiated catastrophising beliefs communicated by some thoughts that floated by.
Lying in bed slowly emerging from sleep, the first thought of the day appears. It’s about the day ahead. It’s suggesting something fairly unthreatening.
‘You have obligations today, a site visit and payroll’.
‘That’s okay, I’m fine with that’. I’m still relaxed.
Then quickly after, another thought says ‘but you have to see the client too and there might be problems to solve.’
‘That’s okay too, I like site visits and can solve problems’.
The mind is not satisfied at all by these reassurances and continues the threat alerting mission it’s on, perhaps encouraged by my responding.
‘But the job might be behind and you might run out of money as a result’.
That gets my attention and I feel I twinge of disquiet.
‘It’s fine, we have the next project lined up, I’ll take a couple of guys off this one and start them on the next one if it runs over’.
I’m noticing a change physically by now as the cortisol and adrenalin start to circulate in my body. That alerted state sets off further fear tempting thoughts.
‘But the next job is only an 8 week project, what will you do for money after that?’.
‘I have another job lined up’.
‘But what if it gets cancelled and you don’t have one for them to go to, after all a couple have been cancelled due to rising material costs already’.
‘It’s fine, I’m designing several other gardens and getting new enquiries too which will replace any cancelled ones. This is not unusual’.
The threat detection system is not having any of my reassurances at this point, there’s now a momentum and it ups the ante with greater catastrophising scenarios. It frames the situation as a complete disaster.
‘This is not working, you are losing money and are paying yourself less and less. How does that make sense?! This business is not working. Are you an idiot or what. And so on bla bla…’.
What a catastrophic mess I just believed and managed to critique myself harshly too. Now I’m filled with dread.
And all at around 5 am within about 6 minutes here in the dark, lying in a very cosy comfy bed with a friendly dog greeting me, and peace and quiet all round me and hours before I have to get up. It’s all fine, other than me believing these thoughts that I should be afraid. That somehow my fear will prevent or protect me from the scenarios they suggest.
And now I’m feeling threatened by something that hasn’t even happened and my body is starting behave as if the imaginary scenarios are happening right now and to feel it is in some kind of mortal danger.
Here’s the alternative.
On the first thought, instead of answering. Just a notice the thought ‘I notice a thought about an obligation’ and let it go.
On the second thought, suggestive of difficulties and problems i.e. potential adversity lying in my future…..
‘Oh there’s one of those scary thoughts’. And drop like a hot potato.
Well actually rather more gently than that as in ‘thanks for warning me threat detecting area of my brain’. Drop and trust. Confidence.
I take charge of what I am doing with my attention and take it to what is actually happening in this moment.
This very moment where I actually live, since it where I always find myself and it seems it is all there ever is. So there’s a dog saying good morning to me with a wagging tail. I give her attention and a hello pat. A warm comfy bed I feel grateful for. And all the other things that are going right and working in this moment.
On the next thought suggesting more threats further into the future, same as above. ‘Thanks, I got this’. Notice and drop.
Notice, drop and trust. Notice, drop and trust.
It takes me a while to recover as I let the madness run for long enough to let the fight or fight physiology kick in. That usually takes a while to dissipate once it’s in the body chemistry.
I send a little compassion towards myself for the suffering I just experienced and make myself some comforting hot Ribena. And notice that I caused this unhappiness. No self condemnation there, but an acknowledgment that I choose where I put my attention. Then Tobie sends me an ear melting track which changes my psychological channel. I get up.