Come again? The idea of a mind trap is actually pretty simple and people (with or without anxiety) do it all the time. Mind traps occur when we make up stories in our heads and respond as if those thoughts are true. If we’ve imagined something scary, our bodies begin making lots of adrenaline and our physical symptoms kick in, followed by more scary thoughts. Of course, this is a great recipe for a panic attack and, over time, it simply becomes habit.
I remember a few years back, my husband took our older girls to a festival. When I couldn’t reach him by phone, I started to imagine that one of the kids got lost and he wasn’t answering until he found her. I imagined her lost in the crowd and crying for us – it was horrible. Even though I knew this scenario was highly unlikely, I found myself believing my imagination and feeling more and more anxious until I was able to reach my husband. The reality was that they were having so much fun that he didn’t hear the phone and everyone came home happy.
Leaving the pool with my three year old while hubby and the girls stay behind.
“Little did they know that would be the last time anyone saw them alive”.
The phone rings before 8am in the morning.
“And that’s when she first heard that (insert name) had passed away during the night”.
Even though it doesn’t feel like it, we do have a choice in how we respond to thoughts like:
I’m going to have a panic attack and then . . .(this terrible thing will happen). . .
“One of the most courageous things you can do when your WAF’s (worries, anxieties and fears) show up is to sit still with them and not do as they say.” (pg. 76)
This week, I invite you to just notice when your mind starts to set a trap for you. See if you can simply watch the thought without having to respond to it. There’s an exercise on page 76 in our summer book called “Mind Watching” – it’s a good one. And, if you’re not reading the book, try sitting with some basic meditation every day for as long as you like. I’m going to aim for 5 – 10 minutes a day and see how it goes!