Thoughts on a distant Greek island…
How many times do you worry about something that doesn’t actually happen?
If you struggle with anxiety, you probably get yourself caught up in future fearful thinking… imagining all kinds of scenarios that get you all stirred up due to spiralling negative thoughts, only to find that the reality isn’t nearly quite so bad.
Away recently on a retreat on the Greek Island of Skyros, we were warned that a storm was blowing in overnight. My accommodation was a simple bamboo hut with a canvas roof and not designed for rain in a hot country. You might imagine the sense of quiet anxiety, even perhaps a smudge of fear, that this warning created amongst the participants as we packed away our belongings into our suitcases to store under our beds. We were told if the rain falls vertically, we would stay dry but with the wind forecast, the rain might drive across the site horizontally which would mean the huts would get soaked inside. Not a happy thought climbing into bed that evening. We went to bed feeling slight trepidation for what the night would bring.
In the darkness of the night…
I recall waking up and tentatively stretching a hand out to feel for how wet the mosquito net had become. The wind was howling outside the hut so I expected to feel some water… BUT it was dry! The rain had indeed fallen vertically and the storm had not really amounted to much at all, just some reasonable precipitation. By morning, it had passed and we were safe to unpack our belonging once more, breathing a sigh of relief.
I got to thinking through this how this is a typical example of how easy it is for anyone to whip themselves into a frenzy imagining the worst-case scenario. The next morning, everything was back in perspective… it was just a bit of rain and no big deal! Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying… “I have had many worries in my life… most of which have never happened!” I wonder if that is the same for you?
A simple lesson…
Next time, you catch yourself catastrophising and whipping up an anxiety storm in your life, I hope you will remember this brief and simple story of the storm that didn’t happen.
Take reasonable pragmatic action to safeguard yourself in case the worst happens in any situation, but work on containing worry. Instead, stay calm in knowing that your worst fear rarely does happen.
Hope this helps you.
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