‘I can’t stop worrying, Danielle’. Our conversation opens and here she is, another remarkable woman who needs to take a holiday.
It’s not the kind you’re thinking of before you think this is going to be a blindingly obvious insight. Bear with me, all will become clear. This is the kind of holiday you can take any time you like. If you’re willing to experiment and play with me.
Let’s start here. With the mind and the volume of thinking it participates in.
How much thinking are we doing?
We’re big fans of Mind Mastery round here in case you haven’t noticed. What does that mean? Ah, now you’re asking. For me, Mind Mastery is about realising that your mind does not speak the Universal Truth and creating a different relationship with it as a consequence of that.
Think of it like this. Our mind chitter chatters all day long.
There’s a lot of debate out there about how many thoughts we have in a day, and to be honest, it’s hard to find a reliable source out there. Because really, how would we know? Some people say 70,000, others say 60 – 80,000. The National Science Foundation estimates 15 – 50,000. That’s the thing about numbers that get bandied around on the internet – it’s hard to get to the truth of them.
So let’s simply acknowledge this.
We have A LOT of thoughts. Definitely thousands per day. If we’re willing to accept that, in many ways the specific number is a little irrelevant. Our brains are going full on all the time.
Some of those thoughts are pure genius, but let’s face it, a lot of them, well, they make no sense at all. Or at least, they are not really accurate. Sometimes, whether they are accurate or not, they’re pretty painful.
I have a particular ‘favourite’ that tells me to stay indoors and not show myself to people when I’ve gained weight. It’s one of my ongoing flavours and the reason I studied Eating Psychology Coaching for a long time. If I listened to that thought and gave it the attention it regularly demands, there’s no doubt whatsoever that I’d be in my third eating disorder in no time.
Another of my doozy’s is to tell myself that this business we are running is pure madness and we are going to run out of money in no time whatsoever. Worse, that I am personally constructing this veritable Armageddon and so when we get there, it will be completely my fault because I am blindly heading off in a crazy direction without a care in the world.
Ergo, I am an idiot.
Ouch. Who knew thinking could be such a source of trouble?
Clients come to me all the time full of anxiety and worry.
‘I have to get a new job before we run out of money. I can’t sleep thinking about it’.
‘I’m constantly worried that I’m going to die young – that’s a real thing in my family’.
‘I’d love to branch out and try this new thing, but I’m so worried I’m going to fail that it’s paralysing me’.
‘What if I eat myself to death?’
‘What if I leave my job that I hate and then I can’t get another one, or I get one that’s even worse? I’m worrying about that all the time. I should probably just stay where I am’.
‘What if I give them my heart and then they break it and I never recover?’
Let me be clear, these are smart women. Remarkable, of course. Also human. They aren’t necessarily worrying all the time, but in this moment, there’s a fear that’s crippling them.
It’s hard to make smart decisions when there is a constant taste of fear
Is the fear legitimate? I have no idea. What I do know is that it’s almost impossible to make a wise decision when the mind is busy projecting constant images of disaster. If the mind is constantly circling back to, ‘this is all going to go horribly wrong’ or ideas of homelessness or penniless bank accounts, or broken hearts, we find it hard to breathe, let alone go about our lives as a functioning human being.
Our task at hand is to calm it down.
That’s where the holiday comes in.
I start with this question:
‘What would happen if you, er, didn’t worry about this for 7 days? Would everything be OK? Would anything fall apart?’.
This is the point I usually get a slightly confused look. I can tell some of these women think I have actually gone mad this time.
‘I’m serious’ I say. ‘If you just stopped worrying for 7 days, what would happen?’
‘Great!’ I respond. ‘Then let’s get out your diary’.
I love my clients. They go along with it, even though they think I have gone mad.
‘7 days from now, schedule one hour in your diary and title it, “Worrying Time”. Got that?’
They look at me, sceptically, although some of them might flicker a smile.
‘Between now and that date, you’re on a Worry Free Holiday. When your mind invites you to get all wound up about this thing that isn’t even happening, you get to let it know that it’s all good, you’re just having a little holiday and there’s plenty of time scheduled in in one week’s time for your very best worrying. The worrying hasn’t been forgotten, it’s just it’s not happening right now’.
Crazy? What if it actually worked?
I have a whole list of stories of clients who’ve applied this technique, as well as my own results.
It’s so good, frankly, I think it should come on prescription.
Because, go figure, when the mind is given permission to rest from all that worrying (plus the special bonus of that part of us being able to trust that full attention is scheduled back in), it’s astounding how quickly it slows down.
I love it when women come and tell me, ‘It worked! I can’t believe it, it worked! I stopped worrying! And now, well, I have perspective. I see I don’t need to worry about this at all. I can just take this action and see what happens’.
Of course it did.
Because sometimes that mind of ours, that churns out many thousands of thoughts a day, needs a little rest.
And sometimes that rest is more powerful than any trip to a hot country.
You can have a holiday at home any time you like.
Ahhh, doesn’t that feel good?
Let’s be remarkable together,