What and If, two small common words, put them together and they form an overwhelming question, What if? A question that everyone has asked themselves sometime, perhaps many times, throughout their lives. This question can cause regrets; "What if I had spent more time with them?", "What if I thought more before I did that?" This question can bring hope; "What if I start doing things differently?", "What if I let go of my fear?". This question can wrap us up in a cocoon of fear and anxiety; "What if they don't like me?", "What if they leave me?" What if......you can fill in this sentence with almost anything and the results can be mind boggling.
The world in my mind can be amazing, When I think of how a situation might be better, or when I take time to look at experiences from different angles, I picture a perfect world in my mind and it is a good place. More often, when I ruminate over something that has happened or worry and anticipate what might happen, my mind is not a good place to be in. I find it interesting that, more often then not, I make the choice to ruminate and worry over letting it go. Why do I do this? I know why! I do not know how to let go! I try to think other things, look at cute kittens or fluffy bunnies, but I keep coming back to those evil ruminations, anticipations, and worry. It frustrates me when people say, "Oh, well" or "get over it", my son will say,"Mom, just chill". It is easy to say, but hard to do. I want to say, "How do you want me to accomplish that?"
In the first part of our series, Lynne quoted Elanor Roosevelt, (by the way, I think she is an amazing role model) "You must do the thing you think you can not do." Great sentiment. I know that I have to let go of past issues, and stop predicting what the future "might" be.
How do I get past the thinking that I can not do it? I have found help in being mindful of the present. Over the past two years I have really been working on mindfulness in all aspects of my life. I personally add my faith in God as a piece of my mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a developing approach to living a healthier and more fulfilled life. Psychologists and doctors are using mindfulness as a way to help people heal on many different levels. There are lots of books written about being mindful, it is all over the internet, just Google being mindful and you will see a long list of websites.
I find that choosing to be mindful helps me. I just have to be more mindful about being mindful! Being present, really present in the moment, stops me from looking back at regrets or looking forward in anxious anticipation. Marian A. Smith, a clinical counselor and teacher of mindful living shares these 10 tips towards being mindful:
Take a couple of minutes to notice your breathing. Sense the flow of the breath, the rise and fall of your belly
Notice what you are doing as you are doing it and tune into your senses. When you are eating, notice the color, texture and taste of the food.
When you are walking, tune into how your weight shifts and the sensations in the bottom of your feet. Focus less on where you are headed.
Don’t feel that you need to fill up all your time with doing. Take some time to simply be.
When your mind wanders to thinking, gently bring it back to your breath.
Recognize that thoughts are simply thoughts; you don’t need to believe them or react to them.
Practice listening without making judgments.
Notice where you tend to zone out (e.g., driving, emailing or texting, web surfing, feeding the dog, doing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.). Practice bringing more awareness to that activity.
Spend time in nature.
Notice how the mind likes to constantly judge. Don’t take it seriously. It’s not who you are.
Number 10 is one that hits home with me. I excel at the judging part, I judge others, but mostly I judge myself and I can be a harsh judge. This is the one that I am really trying to work on and overcome.
Henrieta shared, in the second part of the blog, the importance of leaning into and going through our emotions, especially our fears and anxieties. I really hold onto tip number 6 to help face and get through my strong emotions, they are s-i-m-p-l-y thoughts, you do not have to believe them or react to them, and trust me, sometimes my thoughts should not be reacted to! Your thoughts and feelings do need to be acknowledged, and sometime we need to examine where they come from, once this is done, close your eyes, give them wings and watch them fly away, or better yet, visualize them as a ball and smash them to pieces.
The core of my mindfulness is my belief in God. I choose to focus on Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God." I need to be in the moment and be still, I also need to know that I am not alone in this space, that God is right there beside me in the stillness of the moment and in the grips of the "What if's?" is my life.