“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain
I’ve loved this quote by Mark Twain ever since the first time I happened upon it many years ago. How often have I caught myself ‘living’ through terrible scenarios in my mind, activating all sorts of negative feelings as though these imaginary things were truly happening to me!
What we imagine in our mind seems so real that even our body doesn’t know the difference between something imagined and something really happening. Pounding heart, cold sweat on your forehead, an anxious quivering of your whole body….these are all physical responses to your thoughts and images held in your mind. But how can we teach our mind not to focus on the unwanted?
Our mind is like an overactive sentry, wanting to alert us of danger so that we can prepare. That is why Dale Carnegie suggested that we should briefly give the problem/ worry/ fear our attention in order to come up with strategic plans A,B and C in the event that the feared incident truly happened (literally map out the steps you would/ could take). After you’ve done your work, there is really no more need to think or ruminate about the issue. You can then literally talk to your own mind, telling it exactly that.
I, personally, simply dismiss my mind by saying in a bored tone of voice, “Old news, old news…” 🙂