Today I'm delighted to share a guest post from Clinical Psychologist Elise Wald. Elise is the founder of Centre 4 Inspiration in Melbourne; I can personally attest to Elise's gift of inspiring hope and personal growth. She is an amazing holistic practitioner, with a kind and gentle heart and great knowledge of psychology, health and healing.
I love playing with words – there is a lot of power in changing our language that we use towards ourselves and others. It was just the other day when I was thinking about words that sound the same but yet have such different meaning. It occurred to me that playing with words can sometimes almost trick the mind and make us feel more empowered due to the meaning we attach to different words. Take for example the word “worrier”. Most of us would describe ourselves as being a worrier at certain times in our lives, for some of us, more often than not.
Worry is a mindless ability our mind has to keep us trapped in what might occur in the future, agonizing over trying to solve a hypothetical possibility that we don’t have a solution to!
It tends to stop us from being able to focus on the here and now and distracts us from what we would prefer to focus on. It is our innate built in survival tendency, connected to our flight, fight or freeze system activating when we perceive the possibility that something might occur that we would prefer did not. Sometimes our worries become so overwhelming that we lose information and feel scattered. Its like our mind is so busy processing all the “what if” scenarios and trying to solve them that there is next to no room left to process what is right in front of us in our day to day lives.
For most of us we view worrying as equivalent to problem solving, but if we were to conduct our own experiment with our worries and exercise a worry delay technique, where we write down our worries everytime one comes up and only allow ourselves to look at it at say between 5 and 6pm, we would find that close to 100% of our worries are not actually occurring right now and are purely hypothetical and in fact most of them don’t eventuate at all! We might realize that we cannot necessarily stop ourselves worrying as it is built in feature of being human but that we could choose to not give our worries so much credence! It is a liberating concept!
So consider if we used the other word that sounds like “worrier” being “warrior”, how would it feel to be a warrior in your own life – facing our worries, anxieties and concerns as and when they occur. Becoming mindful of how our mind likes to worry as part of its need to try to protect us against feeling uncomfortable feelings and choosing to realize that it therefore tends to try hypothesize about what might occur and which truly rarely does. Perhaps as a mindful warrior we might find within ourselves the ability to put aside our worries and recognize that when we have truly faced difficult times and real problems, we have found a way through them and often have been unable to plan for them as they seldom present the way our mind tries to imagine. If we embrace our warrior we can rely on our innate ability to be programmed to survive even if our manner of survival does not fit with our idealistic view of how that should look.
It seems that surviving the curve balls that life throws us does not rely on our ability to pre-empt them through worrying but rather on how we somehow manage to navigate them when they occur, kind of like a warrior facing opposition.
Learning to be more mindful and practicing the techniques of mindfulness help us to develop a conscious ability to engage our warrior when our worrier is having a field day. Our imagination has an uncanny ability of being able to create catastrophic options of our future that send our poor system into a flurry as if the catastrophe is occurring in the present moment. So each and every time we hook into our worries we effectively are living a scenario that is not actually occurring but we feel it anyway. Mindfulness helps us to accept the understanding that this is all part of the side effect of having a human brain, something we share with all other humans on earth, then perhaps we can be more accepting of our mind’s ability to pre-empt and recognize that at times it is not particularly useful. This might mean that instead of being “mind full” we can settle into being “mindful” of this ability and choose when we use it to our advantage. Consider accepting your fearful mindless “worrier” and choose to engage your fearless mindful “warrior”!