So it’s been a while since we’ve been together.
I’ve got a few good reasons. I’ve been busy with some cool things, like implementing my new mindfulness trainings for organizations (yay!). And of course, there’s the beloved MagicWrap project, which I won’t go into again here*.
I’ve also been busy with tricky things, like keeping my training and facilitation company going at a time when many organizations aren’t exactly prioritizing training and facilitation.
Life, as you well know, ain’t easy right now. Perhaps, like me, you’ve felt some panic.
For me, the panic hasn’t really been about the challenges themselves, but by my thoughts about the challenges. The pesky, panic-inducing soundtrack running alongside it all, describing, with technicolor flair, everything that will go wrong. (Even though they might not.)
I’m happy to share that I’ve amassed some new weaponry against this panicky soundtrack.
Specifically, I’ve got three short, sweet, oh-so-effective sayings that I’ve been using on myself to cut that panic down just as it revs up.
They are below. Buckle up.
Panic-Cutter #1: “Is anything wrong right now?”
I begin with a favorite self-question, the one I ask myself right as the panic monster gets going.
This question – “Is anything wrong right now?” – magically leads to instant perspective, and an instant transition from my panicky head to the less-panicky present.
There re is a big difference between a thing and our thought about a thing. The thing is a real experience, happening now. The thought is imagined, usually about another time.
Let’s face it. Our panic is SO often about the future. Visions of terrifically bad things that could happen down the road.
Honestly, whenever I’ve asked myself “Is anything wrong right now?”, I don’t think the answer has ever been yes.
Why? Because if something wrong was happening right now I’d be busy dealing with it right now, not ruminating about all of the scenarios morbid bit by morbid bit.
Yes, we need to plan for the future, but remembering that right now, in this moment, we’re okay can get us in the calmer head space needed to do that planning effectively.
Panic-Cutter #2: “I am not my thoughts.”
When the incessant, panicky thoughts are going on (and on, and on), we tend to strongly believe that they are a part of us…like our eyes, our ears, our noses, our brains. Solid, concrete and inarguably true.
But our thoughts aren’t a part of us. Not really. They are temporary wisps of energy passing by. They are like the passing sights we see with our eyes, the passing sounds we hear with our ears, the passing smells we…well, smell…with our noses.
The passing thoughts we think with our brains.
We give all of our sensations names and good/bad labels, but they’re actually subjective. Even the helpful thoughts are brief, mental events passing by before they flit out of our awareness.
The only reason our thoughts have any extra power is because we assign it to them. We associate them with seemingly true consequences that haven’t even happened.
Remembering that our thoughts are wisps of energy that will leave – as long as we give them the space to do so – cuts their power way down.
Panic-Cutter #3: “……”
Sometimes the best thing I do when my imagination goes to town is press mute on the whole thing. Drop the thoughts altogether and go for silence.
If this sounds preposterous to you, I assure you it can be done. You’re just not used to it. Yet.
I use this strategy when the chatter is especially pestering…when my internal catastrophizing babble is just annoying me with judgements and distractions and maaaaaaaybe some self-righteousness.
When I drop the thoughts, I do it without judging or adding any fuel to them. I just imagine them softly fizzing away like the tiny bubbles at the top of a glass of soda.
Pop. Pop. Pop.
I then replace them, focusing instead on my breath or a sound or my feet on the ground…or some other, helpful thought.
You can’t truly focus on two things at the same time, so you may as well focus on the one that doesn’t create all kinds of panic.
So there you have it…
…and I hope at least one of these helps you cut down the panic during this panic-inducing time.
I’ll do my best to be back soon. Until then, hang in there and go easy on yourself.
Because it ain’t easy. But you can handle it.
Got questions or want to share your own nugget? Please add a comment below!
PS – So these strategies all came from my mindfulness work. Seriously, most of us can benefit from mindfulness. Maybe you’d like to help your team try it out? Click here for training details.
*PPS – I lied. I’m again mentioning MagicWrap, our beloved side-hustle project, because I really do love it (as do many folks who’ve gotten one). We’ve got lots of new colors/options. Click here to check them out!
And, below, see how our latest MagicWrap batch ate my house.