You know what it feels like to be worried about something, right? The way that your mind becomes preoccupied with thoughts of various scenarios (usually more with the worst cases), the way your body clenches and hunches and your breath pretty much disappears. Worry, and its good friends anxiety and fear, draw our attention away from our bodies and almost completely into our minds, while simultaneously asking our bodies to do a whole lot of work.
Kind of like when a friend asks you to hold something for them for a second, and then forgets they asked and eventually, you’re just standing there with aching arms. That’s your body holding your “stuff” for you. And it’s down for it, you know? It’s your body, and it wants to help. It’s like, “No worries, I’ll just be right here, holding away, until I get, you know, all exhausted and sick and inflamed and well, break down and just can’t anymore…”
But you knew that, right? That chronic stress can make you sick, and over time, that sickness can evolve to way bigger problems than a sore throat or an upside down stomach?
Right, yeah, of course. Which is why you often just decide you’re not gonna worry about things anymore. You just decide to let go, and tell yourself everything is a-ok.
That works, right? Everything is totally ok and you feel 100% better from that point forward, every time?
Hah. aaaaaand nope.
If only it were that easy. Say what you will. Tell yourself whatever you want. I mean, mindset is really important, and believing that you can move past anxiety is important. But, if you don’t do the work to get to the root of the problem, then you’re just trimming the leaves, which will eventually grow back.
That’s your choice, though. That’s good work, and if you want to keep doing it repeatedly, you can. Seriously. It’s better than ignoring it completely.
However, should you ever decide to dig a little deeper and try to explore what’s going on beneath the surface, mindfulness can help. So can the assistance of a trained mental health professional, btw. Would you take the roof off your own house without a little expertise on board? I wouldn’t, but that’s me…
Anyway, the point is: mindfulness helps you grow your tolerance for being uncomfortable. I don’t just mean wearing itchy sweaters, I mean for looking at the parts of yourself that you prefer to ignore, and getting to know them without judging, critiquing or otherwise hating on them.
Worry, anxiety, fear and all their friends may feel uncomfortable, but they’re not necessarily bad. They don’t make you weak or dumb or boring or broken. They make you human.
They’re also pretty complicated, as you’re often not worried about what you think at first you are. There may be more to it. You may be interested to know what it is.
If nothing else, your body sure would like a break.
Inhale, exhale, and start the process of letting some of it go. Your arms (and everything else) will thank you.
Photo credit: Anggoro Sakti