Updated: Jan 30, 2021
Just when I start to think I am running out of things to blab about, something usually always comes to light, especially when I am on a walk, or as Greg would say, as soon as I get into bed.
I was a little irritated that the audiobook I wanted to listen to during my walk the other day would not download, which meant I needed to decide what music I was in the mood for instead.
This could range from 90's rap to instrumental easy listening and everything in between. It was a cloudy, dreary day and I had just driven three hours while listening to a true crime story, so landed on something light and upbeat...obviously I picked Yacht Rock on Pandora.
By the time Toto's, Africa, had ended, I had it all figured out and knew what I wanted to say.
Before my drive back to Austin, I had a quick lunch with a sweet friend I had not seen in a while. She is one of those friends that you may not see very often, but the conversation is always as if time never passed. I love her openness and warm disposition and we cover every topic you can think of in a short period of time.
She mentioned halfway through lunch, that a mutual friend we know was talking about me at a party and all my marriages. For about the next two minutes, I felt myself going from feeling happy and light to that sudden feeling of pure YUCK. I let my head start to wonder about what was said, how she was saying it and imagined all the faces around her, all with disgusted judgment in their eyes as they listened to this person rip me apart. It probably wasn't all that dramatic in real life, but it sure was in my head.
My friend at the table had no idea that my mind was suddenly caught in a category 4 hurricane. I also know she would be devastated to know it had affected me at all and for sure was not her intention.
Then all of a sudden, I told my brain to simply "stop it". Within seconds, I turned my thinking completely around and instead allowing my brain to imagine all the horrible things that were being said about me that I clearly had no control over, I made it all stop. I made my brain take a sudden U-turn in the other direction, away from the traffic ahead. By turning around, I was able to head right back to my lovely lunch, with my lovely friend who I love dearly and who loves me right back. MUCH better!
Was it always this easy to not allow myself to fret about everything going on in my head? Hell no! I was the queen of overthinking and would overthink myself sick more than a few times over the years, and don't worry, I still do at times. I just try not to linger in yuck-land for too long.
I know it sounds easy, but it is really hard to change your train of thought and takes a lot of practice. I am not a huge self-help book reader, but I did listen to an audiobook that was a game changer for me in this exact area I struggled in for so many years.
It was The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and I listened to it on my walks while my son was recovering from his spinal fusion at home. I was so stressed during that time, I thought I had a heart issue because I could never seem to catch my breath. This book opened my eyes that it was not my heart at all, it was the junk in my head that was making me feel as if there was something physically wrong with me.
Three weeks after Dawson's surgery, he became Septic and was critically ill for a very long time. Naturally, my brain went to some very dark and scary places while he was in the hospital but I was armed and ready to deal with all the fear of the unknown. All I could control was my way of thinking and I know I could not have made it through that terrifying time without knowing how to do that. It also helps that Greg is probably the calmest person I know and is great for someone with a mind that tends to go into overdrive as much as mine does.
It took me a long time to not let myself worry about things that are not in my control, especially about what people think about me. It's so easy to create dramatic scenes in your head that no one sees but you. YES, fear, sadness, and concern are all real emotions that can't be ignored and all need to be felt, not tucked away. It's the time-consuming and obsessive thoughts about assuming what will happen or what people are thinking about you that you have zero control over that causes damage to yourself, and the people you love.
So the next time you hear that someone may not like you, convinced your boyfriend is going to break up with you, or that you're going to die from that strange rash on your arm, take that u-turn in your mind. Leave all those negative thoughts in the dust and steer toward all the love and goodness that is right in front of you every single day that we all forget to see sometimes. This is the only thing that is REAL.
Sarah Swindell's memoir, Rounding Home, is now available here! http://bit.ly/RoundingHome