I’ve been plagued by anxiety since adolescence. I worry endlessly about things over which I have no control, and also things over which I do. My mind becomes a tornado, everything in its path drawn as evidence to support the working theory of the day.
These theories are usually some version of:
I am doing a bad job at _____.
I’m not good enough at _____.
No one cares that I _____.
The two people who bear the brunt of my tornadoes are my husband and my mom.
My husband, as many husbands do, usually suggests fixes to the problem.
My mom, on the other hand, listens intently and then tells me to stop it.
When I first realized that this was her pattern of response to my drama, I was equal parts confused and annoyed. Didn’t she know that I would stop it if I could? And, also this: I want to just stop it, but I don’t know how.
For the past few months, I’ve been intentionally studying and changing my thought patterns, and I’ve learned that she was right.
Yes, Mom, you were right.
Not only is it possible to just stop it, it is the only way to move forward and feel better.
A tornado is a weather event that will trample over everything in its path. It is not stoppable. The only thing to do is allow it to wear itself out.
In the past I treated my thought tornados the same way. I let them run themselves out, leaving me hiding under the covers sobbing. But the thing is, thought tornados are stoppable.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say I’m spinning about not being a good enough parent. Perhaps my child is struggling with someting at school. I’ve collected heaps of evidence from past and present that show me how I’ve created this problem. I didn’t teach her how to handle this situation or I solved problems for her.
Now, let’s say that I catch myself thinking I am not a good parent. First of all, simply noticing the thought presses the pause button, and the tornado freezes in place. I change my thought to I am a good parent. OR, if that feels like a stretch, I am a parent.
Sudddenly all of the evidence I’ve collected is no longer relevant. The wind in the tornado is no longer whipping. The whole thing disappears.
You might be asking what any of this has to do with writing. Well, let’s take a thought I’ve explored in previous posts.
My stories aren’t interesting.
Evidence: other writers have interesting stories, my essays have been rejected, etc.
Pause the tornado.
Alternative thoughts: my stories are interesting. OR I have many stories. OR I have stories.
The tornado dissolves, and you are ready to write.
If you are struggling to get started, or struggling to find the time, or struggling with the blank page, I guarantee there is a thought tornado ramping up.
All you have to do is stop it.
No Time? Write Anyway takes you through steps – today – to find time in your busy life for your creative dreams.