Sometimes it’s easier to freak out than manage the urge to not to freak out in midlife.
Wait, why am I even asking. I know it has. How can it not? Life can be hard!
Since I’ve become a life coach, I’ve seen first-hand how empowering the mindfulness strategies that I teach my clients and students can be. Especially in midlife.
I’ve seen it with myself too…but something happened a few years ago that blew my own mind.
Like many of you I’m sure, I had a bit of a health scare.
Now…gentle reader, I must tell you something personal and perhaps TMI, so apologies in advance.
For at least 30 of my 57 years on this planet , I have spent a fair bit of time in the bathroom when I’m stressed or overcome with worry.
In fact, it only takes about 3 seconds (or less) for the scary thought to pop into my mind and for the solid waste to exit my body.
It’s often urgent and I have to get my butt on the toilet quickly.
This situation go really bad back in the 80s when I was an undergrad in South Residence at the University of Guelph. I remember literally “setting up shop” in the bathroom, on the toilet, whenever I had a test or an exam. I used study cards back then and would simply take my stack of index cards (held together with a rubberband) into the bathroom stall and get comfortable because I knew I would be in there for a few hours.
In those days, I didn’t have a good understanding of my fear or what exactly was going on.
I was certainly at a loss for how to manage it.
But as I think about it some more, I also remember getting pretty freaked out about saxophone solos in jazz band and district band back in high school. I had a particularly menacing Bari Sax solo during the tune Spinning Wheel (by Blood, Sweat & Tears) one whole competition season in 1980.
What made it worse was that we had to wear white pants. Extra scary when you have this sort of problem…
But I digress.
What all of this illustrates is the speed with which we can manufacture our emotions as a result of our thinking.
Yes, your thoughts create your feelings.
Every minute of the day.
Every day of the week.
So as I was saying, I had a health scare.
My thoughts were habitual at first.
I’m sure you know what my thought was the minute I heard that I needed some extra tests.
I’m going to die.
That’s it in the nutshell.
There was more drama of course.
More internal chatter.
But, unlike my past three decades of habitual thinking and subsequent worry, something strange happened.
All of my mindfulness training swooped in.
Like Wonder Women flying in to rescue me, red boots and all.
Except I was Wonder Women and I was saving myself.
No red boots.
But lots of skill!
I couldn’t ignore my new thought: “You can manage your mind and don’t have to freak out.”
My thought was right on track. Freaking out was optional because my thoughts were optional.
News flash: Diarrhea was optional too.
Well, in cases like this anyway, lol. I’ve heard plenty of stories where diarrhea wasn’t optional.
But again, I digress.
Gentle reader…I was blowing my own mind.
I could see that once I understood where my power was…I couldn’t ignore it.
It was like letting the genie out of the bottle.
Yes, it would take work.
But so worth it!
I could also see how easy it was for me to “go there,” to think the worst and freak myself out accordingly.
What I know now is that I don’t have to go there. I don’t have to freak out.
But I don’t have to.
So good to understand this.
I decided that I wanted to feel calm during the three week period that I was waiting for test results.
I took the opportunity to practice thinking a few other helpful thoughts that created CALM for me. Here they are:
- I trust my doctor to help me.
- I’m open to the idea that I can handle whatever happens.
- I could be wrong that the worst case scenario will happen to me.
- Staying present is more useful than worry.
- I’m open to the idea that the odds are in my favor.
You can do this too. It’s the same sort of thing during the Pandemic too. There are lots of times when it feels like an opportunity to freak out. It all starts with awareness. And then intentional thought management.
I love that I have these skills. It totally changed my experience while waiting for these test results.
Thankfully, everything was FINE.
Bonus points: I noticed the power of my ability to manage my mind.
I didn’t have to run to the bathroom because of worry and panic ONCE during the those past three weeks.
This was a FIRST in Suzy’s World back then. Thank goodness I learned these skills. I love watching my clients’ transformation as they learn more about their own power to manage their minds as well. I’m beside myself about what’s possible for me AND what’s possible for you too.
Mindfulness can change your life.
Want more info? Make sure to grab the FREE “Get Unstuck in Midlife Podcast Bundle” with the top 12 episodes from the Women in the Middle Podcast to help you with thought work, midlife, aging, empty nest and career. I would love to help you help yourself with these amazing strategies.
It all starts with your thinking!
Originally published in May 2017; Updated in April 2021