“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
I love that quote by Ovid and I keep it on my computer desktop so I can read it often. I’m not sure if it will ever happen to me or not….wake up one day to find that I have ceased to worry, but it might. It is possible, and this quote reminds me of that fantastic possibility. It also helps me stay aware of how my mind often seems to find a kind of perverse pleasure in thinking up new things to be afraid about.
I was shopping last week and found a gift for a friend that I just knew was perfect, so I bought it thinking I’d send it to her rather than waiting to give it to her when we met in November.
All was well as I drove home feeling such delight about my purchase. Then at some point (which I didn’t catch) I imagined her telling me that it was nice of me to think of her, but she didn’t really like it. In my imaginary, unhappy, scenario, I even heard her say that she was so sorry but she just needed to be honest and tell me. I began to feel bad and also think she was ungrateful.
I went to bed that night and forgot about my story but the next day, I saw the gift, wrapped and ready to be mailed and I had a huge desire to unwrap it and look at it again thinking maybe I’d been wrong to buy it. Then I caught myself and backtracked to the first thought, so I tried to change the scenario to seeing her opening the package and loving the gift, but it felt like I was in a tug of war with my mind: one part was trying to imagine a happy ending and the other was holding tightly to an unhappy one.
I decided not to mail the package out until I could stop being concerned (concern, worry, and anxiety are all just words that describe fear) that it wasn’t wanted, and could clearly see happiness all the way around. I eventually did mail the gift, and she loved it, but by the time I mailed it, I realized that the gift was really for me. The entire situation had helped me to see, once again, the power of thought and the power of choosing thoughts.
Not letting my mind dictate a story and have me blindly follow it, believing it to be “the truth”, is a wonderful step to take.
It sounds like such a small and dumb thing when I retell it. I mean, what the heck?! A 59-year-old woman still fretting about such trifles? But the thing fretted over isn’t the heart of the issue. It could just as well be the 2 a.m. thought that a headache is probably brain cancer or the sound of a siren means that someone I love has gotten into a terrible accident. When my mind is creating a sorrowful, frightening, or unhappy scenarios, it wants me to take it seriously. It doesn’t want to be questioned or, god-forbid, laughed at.
One of my funniest examples of this (I think I’ve written about this before but it deserves to be retold) was years ago when I was writing out affirmations. A suggested affirmation for financial success was, “There is no reality in lack”. I wrote this out with a bunch of other affirmations and somehow Jack saw the paper. He was devastated and confused. He thought I’d written, “There is no reality in Jack”. I still laugh when I think about this, but if he had just read it, said nothing, and let his mind run with it? Who knows what would have happened.
Don’t believe every thought you have, especially if the thought makes you feel awful. Imagine happy endings, beginnings and middles…..life is a lot more fun that way.