20th August 2012
It’s very common to worry about and feel anxiety about health issues, but what can you do when it gets out of hand?
“It’s cancer,” my mind whispered to me. “You could have cancer,” it continued. “What then?” it asked. “You could lose your foot, leg, life!” Images of me having to tell people circled like vultures in my mind. Funerals happened and rewound back to having painful operations or chemotherapy.
In between going to the Dr’s and seeing his face of concern for the mole on my foot and the hospital appointment for it to be checked out ,my mind was chatting away about how I had cancer. The reality is that without a diagnosis, there was nothing but a slightly dodgy mole, but you try telling my mind that!
The reality is also going to be this. Anything that puts my life at risk is going to cause these types of thoughts to happen. I lost a family friend when I was young to a mole which turned cancerous, it was devastating back then to watch and understandably my mind does’t want history to repeat itself.
The normal response to thoughts like these is to see them as negative and either try and ignore them, fight them somehow by challenging them or get caught up in the drama and worry myself sick.
Just let them come and go as they were just thoughts. They are not real, they don’t represent the truth and are just images and words set to a script my mind is playing out. I am a thinking machine with thousands of thoughts a day coming and going on the highway that is my mind. I won’t stop thinking until I am dead, even then that’s debatable. These thoughts are part of the process which reassesses and re-evaluates my life on a constant basis to make sure I stay important and relevant in the hierarchy of life. Thoughts it thinks are more important are drawn to my conscious attention and I have a choice about what I do with them. The thoughts of cancer were just thoughts and were going to happen anyway, I just accepted that was the case and let them happen.
I say choice because I can more often become the observer of my thoughts or stories which surface and decide if they are useful or not. Require effective action or not. Let them pass by on the highway or not.
My mind wanted me to get caught up in the story about cancer so I could deal with it. As there was no other action I could take though as there was no diagnosis yet I became the observer of the stories my mind created about my health. The easiest way for me to do this was by becoming aware of what I was thinking and just watching by those thoughts with an element of curiosity.
I would say in my mind “I am noticing I am having thoughts about having cancer,” this created disassociation, room to breath, a step back from being involved in the drama.I would also say “Oh here comes the old cancer story again.” This works wonderfully too. I breathed into the thoughts and feelings which at times can feel overwhelming, I made room for them, welcomed and allowed them to be here and observed like a curious scientist until I forgot they were happening. (You gotta love our short attention spans)
The drama died down, I felt very calm and relaxed but still did a “yippee!” with the all clear diagnosis.
Learning to do this is very handy when it comes to any stories your mind makes up which can cause you to feel overwhelmed, fearful, panicky and cause you hold your life back in various ways.
I have also accepted I won’t do this all the time due to my lovely irrational human nature. I can though do it more often which makes for an easier life in many ways. After all life is way too short to believe thoughts are real and have to be acted on, when in fact they are just stories which we can choose to work with or not. If you would like to learn more about this mindful therapy process which is really quite liberating, then please contact me and we can go from there.
The choice really is yours.