Catastrophising Clara needs Clarity
Dear KCY, I guess generally the problem I seem to have it that I can make little problems quite big in my mind (catastrophising, I believe it’s called).
Eg. My baby doesn’t sleep at the usual time = oh no, she’s not going to sleep at all today, I can’t deal with this, I didn’t get a sleep last night, this is going to ruin my day…
Eg. I make plans to go out with D to a party, we have nonna ready to mind baby while she sleeps, he decides he’d rather stay at home = everything’s changed, we’ll never have fun together again.
Eg. At school a kid repeats neg. behaviours over and over = they don’t understand how serious this could become, I can’t seem to get through to them, I’m failing them.
The frustration for me is that I keep allowing myself to get sucked into my own dramas, which in hindsight are very small and quite laughable but at the time I’m fuming. My emotional escalation never fixes or helps the problem yet I keep this pattern.
Over time I have become much better at not letting things get to me but it’s something I have to always keep in check. Hopefully one day I can just laugh it off as my fiery Mediterranean temperament rather than see it as an issue.
What can I do in he meantime? Yours, Catastrophising Clara
Dear CC, Firstly, I feel your pain.
I come from a family of worriers. My Mum loves to panic. I remember once being at the beach with my Mum and sister and a bumble bee flew around us. As my Mum jumped up flapping her arms and squealing, she paused in shock as my sister and I continued to sunbathe. With a look of horror on her face she shouted at us ‘don’t just lay there, PANIC!’.
My sister tells another classic tale of driving around a strange city with Mum, they took a wrong turn and the GPS helpfully informed them they were now going the wrong way. ‘That’s it, we’re fucked!’ Mum yelled (this is a woman who hardly ever swears).
And I’m not purer than pure when it comes to this. I often wake in the middle of the night worrying about life’s little problems. Or when I think I’m handling my load beautiful my body starts to show the stress while my brain is refusing to acknowledge it. Actually, I’m sitting typing this blog post at the Wesley Breast Clinic. Today is the day for my annual mammogram and breast check that I have due to family history. Without going into details, let’s just say that while I wish I was sat here practicing pranayama, I’m writing this blog to prevent myself going into WCS (worse case scenario) train of thought.
In the Yoga Sutras Book 2 (the book on how to practice yoga) Patanjali offers the simple solution for you, me and my Mum. Sutra 2:33 ‘When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive ones) should be thought of. This is Pratipaksa (opposite) Bhavana (manifested thought).
Simple right? When you are thinking ‘oh my God, I’m in my 30s and I’m never going to have fun again because my partner wants to sit on the couch tonight and probably every night from now until eternity’. Pause. Take a deep breath and flip it around. ‘Yippee. I’m in my 30s and my partner wants to have a intimate night cuddling on the sofa. I’m going to order pizza and crack a bottle of red.’
Or ‘Oh no my baby had a bad nights sleep. She’ll never sleep again. She’s starting the never before heard of X month super serious sleep regression that won’t rectify itself until she’s a teenager’. Deep breath. ‘Ahhh my little lady wanted an extra Mama cuddle tonight, she’s clearly teething (blame everything on teeth), tomorrow she’ll sleep like a dream’
Or ‘Oh crikey this kid has no idea that these negative behaviours are going to impact the rest of his life. I’m failing him. I’m failing myself.’ Deep breath. ‘I remember all those negative behaviours I had as a teenager. I remember not having a bar of my teachers or my parents when they tried to tell me I needed to change things. But then it all clicked. I don’t remember when and I don’t remember how. But I do remember that amazing teacher who never gave up on me’
Even if you don’t really believe the positive thought you’ve manifested to counteract that negative one that popped into your head it will make you feel better. And then overtime it becomes a habit, a new pattern, a new way of thinking and the minute a negative thought crops up, the positive one will appear immediately to replace it. So my advice here my dear, is fake it till you make it.
Write down Yoga Sutra 2.33 in a few places, a note in your purse or a post-it in your wardrobe and it’s a gentle reminder to come back to this sacred wisdom when you mind stuff starts to take control of you, you then take the power back and claim control of it. We both know that’s the magic of yoga. The tools we get given to control our crazy mind stuff.
But I also don’t want to be flippant. Some things are valid. Some things are worth worrying about or can’t be helped worrying about.
One of my favourite writers, Cheryl Strayed, wrote this in her book ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ – ‘Most things will be ok eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realise there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small quiet room.’
I love this. It reflects my current belief that surrender is key to living this beautiful life. But I think I would add to it, and I think Patanjali would agree with me (if I may be so bold), that it’s always worth putting up a good fight. It’s always worth staying positive and even if you lose and move to a place of acceptance, you have your head held high and your heart wide open.