Working the good

Sometimes when things are going badly, or there are too many things going on that you don’t know what to do about, you need to get yourself still inside and drag your mind away from being anxious and worried. You can be afraid of something, yes: fear is a warning, something that tells you something is wrong, or too big or too much for you to deal with and it very wisely tells you to run, hide, or at least get out of the way of the bad or scary things.

But feeling anxious is like feeling afraid of your own thoughts! You think, “But what if…” or, “But what about….” or, “What will they do?” This is your mind putting itself into the future. You cannot do anything in the future now. Sure you can prepare for things: if you know that you’ll have a math test, you can study and work at learning the material, ask for help and so on: this is using the present to save trouble in the future. This is being very wise.

But if you let your fear turn into anxiety, you are trying to change something that hasn’t happened yet! And you can’t do than any more than you can eat tomorrow’s breakfast now. You could never do that and it would be silly to try. So, you can work your good against your future-fears at the same time you can tell yourself it’s silly to try to eat tomorrow’s breakfast now. (Raiding the cupboard and eating tomorrow’s cereal doesn’t count: that’s just cheating, and besides, that wouldn’t be breakfast: it would just be a snack you stole.)

You work your good by breathing several long, deep breaths, and thinking: “I am breathing. I am breathing and nothing is hurting me right now. I am breathing and because nothing is hurting me right now, I am safe right now. Because I am breathing and I am safe right now, I can think about what is making me anxious as though it were a story about someone else.” And when you can do that, you can find solutions! 

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