I was recently working with someone on a health challenge, and their mind was swirling with every possible worst case scenario.
You’ve probably been there. It is a very natural response, part of a defense mechanism to examine and prepare for even the worst of outcomes. We don’t need to even get into how the Internet can take you from one muscle ache to being fully convinced of a horrible illness.
While health is an obvious subject, especially if you’ve been given a diagnosis, this show-me-every-worst-thing can and generally does happen in many different areas of life.
The issue is not so much the fact that this survival mechanism exists, as much as the way it can get into an endless cycle and begin to dominate your consciousness.
Without bringing awareness to this in useful ways, it can easily snowball, showing you the same unpleasant outcomes over and over, endlessly generating new ones, which then triggers emotional responses that give it more fuel.
Sometimes it can be very helpful to externalize this, get it out of the feedback cycle and onto something physical like paper.
In the writing suggestion I brought up and have used to help address this, the individual I was working asked a question that brought us to an interesting distinction:
“I’ve heard that when you want to create something, or have a goal, one of the recommendations is to write it down. If I write something negative like this, will it re-enforce it into my mind?”
Curiously, the tool of writing things down can be used in two very powerful, very opposite ways.
It can be used to enforce, and reinforce something INTO your mind.
It can also be used to help get a recurring pattern of thinking OUT of your mind.
Isn’t that interesting? It all depends on what is going on for you, and the context in which you use the tool.
Writing it Out
The suggested exercise is straightforward.
Observe and actually write down:
- The negative outcomes that keep presenting themselves in your mind
- The actions you think you should take in response or preparation
- The arguments that come up against those actions
You could put these into three columns.
I could have xyz health condition | I should change my diet | What if that diet makes it worse?
You could simply free flow with the way it comes out.
The point is to externalize it.
Now, as you look at the paper, put your attention on your breath and body. Take some time and space to focus on processing the feelings and emotions behind it.
See if it gives you any memories or avenues you may need to explore deeper, anything unprocessed or unexamined. From there, you can explore them using any of the practices used here like EFT, Inner Reconciliation, guided awareness or whatever works best for you.
This is NOT a strategizing session (you could also do that at another time,) it is to get it OUT of all bouncing around in your head, onto something external, and then using the created space to better address the emotions going on underneath it all.
Addressing The Issue
While we all know the way our minds can fixate on problems and go down rabbit-holes, sometimes it is showing us a legitimate concern to be addressed.
There are plenty of times when we worry about things that actually can happen.
Sometimes there are useful actions, preventative or otherwise, that we truly are not taking, and there is a signal inside legitimately telling us to address it.
There are times when the most direct route to stopping the endless alarms and warnings is to actually address them seriously for a moment, and maybe even take action.
While some practices and methods can lend themselves to rejecting and dismissing all of this activity as ‘just the mind’ – even if accurate, this can actually turn into a form of suppressing this rather than letting it flow through naturally and run its course.
There may be elements of discernment, practice and guidance as far as navigating when to give something attention to help it release, versus when it is time to simply direct your attention elsewhere.
Be careful of taking extreme positions in either direction. It’s not hard to find examples of being stuck in “I need to release and process everything that ever happened to me,” or “I just don’t pay attention to any of that… I’ve transcended that… that’s all the mind…” while there are blatant, obvious issues that need addressing.
The best, most simple approach is to simply be open.
Just listen, observe, feel into your body and emotions, and be open to whatever may be presenting itself. Let go of any preconceived labels of it being “worry” or “just chatter” or anything else.
Listen and be open. If something feels important, don’t deny it, but don’t feed it and catastrophize it, just follow where it goes. Allow certain things to simply drop away, and if others continue to stay, examine them.
As this continues to clear up and process, if it feels clear that there is action that needs to be taken, begin taking it. If you are resistant to taking it, begin working with that. Inner work and outer action are designed to compliment each other, not be dueling philosophies.
Between externalizing the inner dialogue and imagery, giving some space to process the emotion, and listening to see if there is a legitimate concern to address, you cover quite a lot of ground.
Bring up the original issue that was causing the upset, and see if there is any difference in quality. Any less tension in the body, more space mentally and emotionally.
Repeat as much as you’d like – go as deep as you feel willing.
There is no limit to how much more relief you can feel, even if there is a legitimate challenge in your life.
I hope you find this valuable, and welcome any thoughts, comments or suggestions that have worked for you in the comments below.