Mind Traps

“When you go beyond seeing words as words, you’re buying into the illusion your mind creates. The thoughts shift from being thoughts to being something dangerously serious. And when that happens, you’ll often find yourself trapped in old behavior patterns that are neither helpful nor in your best interest. We call this a mind trap.” (pg. 70)

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.

I so identified with Brene Brown‘s video when she asked the audience “what happens next?” My brain runs disastrous headlines on a daily basis. Sometimes I shrug them off and other times I get a little wave of adrenaline. What if it’s a sign?

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:

What if?

It would be terrible if . . .

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!

3 thoughts on “Mind Traps”

  1. Hey Kristin!
    Sounds like a nice getaway for your family. Glad your back. I was wondering why things were so quiet. I have not watched the video yet but I am planning on it.
    I think this post is so true for me. this issue is probably the number one thing I struggle with and the single biggest factor in my WAF's. I am so glad to read this from you. I read this part from your post:

    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:

    What if?

    It would be terrible if . . .

    and thought WOW! Does she think that way????? That is exactly the way I think 98% of the time. Its sooo exsausting. Last week my hubby was in TX. He didn't answer his cell phone for about 15 minutes and I started imagining that he was dead or had been in a car accident to the point of a hysterical voice mail left for him and lots of panic. I was trying to figure out how I could get the TX police to go look for him!!!! It had been 15 minutes. He didn't have cell phone service in the Galleria. Luckily I have a very understanding husband πŸ™‚

    I loved this from the book:
    "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)

    I'll try it. Every morning when I take T to school I have this reoccuring(sp) thought, "what if I pass out and run the car into that telephone pole." I start to get horrible physical symptoms and feel such dread whe I get to that point every day. I would love to find a way to cope with it and get through it without the WAF.

    Thanks for this awsome post!!!
    AShley

  2. Hey Ashley,

    So, one of my fears in writing a blog is posting too much info like "I'm going out of town" after hearing that's become a problem on facebook. Silly, I know. I'll have to find another way to post when I'm either going to be away or know that the next few weeks are crazy w/activities and I'll be back. Thanks for checking back in!

    Re: the mind traps, I think so many people think like we do and even more so after becoming parents. I do think it's a mix of that mama (or papa) bear hormone, the ever present fear based media, and anxiety. I'd love to hear what you think when you get a chance to watch the video.

    I'm glad your man was alright & I totally know that feeling. It's good to have supportive partners who get it. I also love that my hubby doesn't have anxiety issues – he's got his own stuff, but we balance each other out.

    Driving T to school — want to try something new? Here are a couple of things to play with if you're feeling brave:

    *Don't rush when you're passing the telephone pole (TP) – slow down and let yourself feel the anxiety.

    *Try your hardest to get so anxious that you might pass out. This is the paradoxical method & research says that when we want the anxiety and beg it to show up, it either doesn't show up or has less power over you over time. Let your experience be your teacher – how many times have you passed out due to high anxiety/panic?

    *If that sounds daunting, do it by yourself first (w/o kids) and drive the route over and over again for about 45 – 60 minutes. Or, have a friend drive behind you the first time you try it and then do it yourself. I say go for it by right away and watch your power grow. It will feel insurmountable at first and then get better if you stick with the practice.

    What do you think?

    Kristin πŸ™‚

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