Monday, May 18, 2015

Mind over matter

Since Quinn died, I’m plagued with a lot what-if fears for the future.  What if something bad happens to R?  What if something bad happens to me or Josh?  What if we get in a car crash?  What if we get in a plane crash?  What if we die in a plane crash?  What if someone I love gets terminally ill?  Oh my god, what if I get terminally ill?  STOP.

I was a big what-if-er before Quinn died, but now it is escalated.  The mind is unbelievably powerful and usually this has a positive outcome.  For instance - using mind over matter to test your physical capabilities and limits by running a marathon.  It is physically hard and uncomfortable (downright painful even), but you do it because your mind tells your body that you can.  I attribute my powerful mind to allowing me to run two marathons (well, running one and hobbling the other).  I can think of many other examples where the expression “mind over matter” is true. 

Mind over matter

In the last three months, however, my mind has become too powerful and travels to a strange and unpredictable place: the land of what-ifs.  Here, my mind feeds off my grief and takes me on an uncontrollable escapade.  The escapade is a downward spiral that goes out of control very quickly.  If I don’t take notice of it, I am propelled so far deep in the what-if land that I need my husband to help me crawl out.  Since Quinn, I have to be very conscious about reining in my mind and keeping my what-ifs in check.  If I don’t, my days are full of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.

After telling my counselor about my what-if journeys, she told me something that smacked me upside the head.  She said, “Your thoughts are not true.”  This clicked.  Correct.  It’s so simple - these thoughts are not true.   They are my imagination.  They are pretend.  They are not based in reality or hard facts.  These thoughts are made up in my head and do not reflect reality.  Just as I made these thoughts, I can unmake them too.  I can work with this. 

Now, I have a mantra that helps pull me out of the what-if land: “I am stronger than my mind.”  I control what I think and I will think true things.  I will not let my powerful mind take me on a journey to a place that isn’t true.  I am stronger than that.  How do I do this?  Running of course. 

Stronger than my mind

So, the same mind that helps me push myself to my physical limits, such as running a marathon, needs to be kept in check by actually reaching my physical limits.  It’s circular: I need both mental and physical tests to have balance.  Without the body reacting back, the mind becomes too powerful and poisonous.  With this, I honor the mind-body connection more.  They need each other to function and to be healthy.  When running to the mantra “I am stronger than my mind,” my body helps me rein in my oh so powerful mind and keeps me from spiraling into the what-if land.  

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