Ever board that 'Express Worry Train', to Devastation Station? I think many of us hop on board unmindfully and let those worrying thoughts take us to a stressful unhappy place. We all can prevent this train wreck by being aware of how unhelpful and untrue these negative worrying thought habits are causing us worry and unhappiness and making a conscious effort to stop them. We are then free to put a helpful new habit in its place. Neuroplasticity, that understanding that the brain is plastic or changeable allows us to create new neural pathways or 'thought grooves' that are more helpful. With mindful awareness we are able to stop recreating that unhelpful thought pattern groove over and over and instead create a more helpful one that will reduce our worry and make us happier.
I was reminded this week of how easy it is to hop aboard the worry train. The end of semester and school term is here and 'swating' students are everywhere. I remembered back to year 11 Physics, which for me was a train wreck. I now understand how this experience taught me a wonderful lesson. I didn't really like physics or my teacher really and while it was tempting to blame the subject, the exam, its content and position in a packed timetable and the teacher, I realise now I was the one responsible for it being a stressful experience. I didn't know any better at the time! No need to bash myself up though - I was doing the best I could with what I knew at the time. I have been fortunate enough to learn some helpful new responses and will continue to do my best to practice them.
I remember the lead up to the final exam - I was a reasonable conscientious student and had certainly put in a fair amount of study but I decided that "I was going to fail the exam, that I hadn't done enough work, I, was too dumb to get it, I was going to freeze when I got the exam, I would be unable to answer any of the questions, it was a disaster, I would fail for sure" and on and on it went. I wound up at 'Station Devastation' a nervous somewhat hysterical wreck.
STOP that train. If we be mindful of that first negative thought and stop ourselves boarding that negative thought train we can prevent the devastation and create a new helpful thought habit. When we think about it' none of these thoughts are true - I hadn't failed, frozen or been unprepared yet because I hadn't even sat the exam!!
So what advice would the wiser Maree of now, have for that scared, worried teenager?
So next time your frenemy stress comes to visit ...................
Starting a mindfulness meditation practice is an important step in developing these helpful new thought habits which will help you to be happier and more confident. I would love to assist you to start a meditation practice with my 'Worry to Wonder ' programme. Email me so we can have a chat firstname.lastname@example.org