If you knew that your body doesn't know the difference between a thought and reality, would it change how you think?
When we worry - when we run scenarios of what can go wrong, or bad things that might happen, the body actually produces stress hormones in response to the worry thoughts, and we enter stress responses such as the fight/flight/freeze responses. If we do this often enough it can lead to inflammation in the body, and while we sit home safe on our sofas, our own thoughts are making us stressed and ill.
Check in regularly with your mind, and when you find it wandering off to worry, or into fearful places, come back to the present.
Ask yourself - is there actually any danger right now?
In this moment, is there actually anything to worry about? - If there is, then what action can you take?
If there's no action you can take right now, can you let those thoughts go?
"The body cannot tell the difference between events that are actual threats to survival and events that are present in thought alone." - Joan Borysenko
There is a Buddhist saying: "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional". This is often illustrated with the story of the two arrows.
Imagine you are walking along and you are hit by an arrow, obviously it will hurt! There is nothing you could have done differently to avoid the arrow, you were in it's path and that's that.
The 'second arrow' is how you react to the first. If you react by focusing on how you should never have been shot in the first place, or maybe getting angry at the person who shot you, or getting into a story of how unfair life is--this is adding a second arrow of suffering to the first.
Instead, we can choose to accept and observe the pain of the first arrow, letting it move through us and fade into the past, perhaps learning not to walk that same path we got shot on again!
We can see how this translates to life. Pain is indeed inevitable. No life is free from pain, we fall over, we lose people, we get ill, we want things we can't have. All these are first arrows. We can learn, with patience and Mindfulness, to accept these first arrows without creating second ones.
Something I find helpful to when I've found myself busy with a second arrow, is to remember that we are not here for long, we never know the date or hour when life ends or is altered forever, so it is up to me; how do I want to spend my time here?
“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.
Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds.
This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away.
After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.” - Jill Bolte-Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Sceintist’s Personal Journey
This quote reflects what Mindfulness training is all about.
As long as we are alive, as long as we love and care for people and things, there will be joy and pain. We can't avoid our emotions, and efforts to do so usually wind up causing more pain. Better to learn to form a healthier relationship with our emotions, so we can live and love fully and fearlessly.
If you would like to learn more about mindfulness, and how to apply it in your life, click here.
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing proven tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
The Weekly Minute is posted here every Monday, or you can sign up to get it delivered to your inbox via the link below.
Follow me on social media (see below) to make sure you don't miss one!
Get the Weekly Minute delivered straight to your inbox, or follow it on social media!
By subscribing to Claire Shannon Therapy you are agreeing to receive a weekly blog post via email.
I use Mailchimp to store and manage this mailing list and your data will not be shared with any third party. You are free to unsubscribe at any time using the unsubscribe button which appears at the end of every blog.