Yesterday felt like one of those free for all – stack on’s – on me. It was the kind of day that left me seriously considering purchasing a one-way ticket to Spain – to remove myself from the sudden schemozzle I found myself in.
I’m sure, at some point, you’ve felt metaphorically squished by life too.
If you work in the corporate world – then you’ve surely heard the term ‘office politics’ before. The vibe in our office lately has been shit-on-a-stick, to say the least. It’s felt tense like everyone’s on edge, and short-tempered with each other.
We need to blast Black Eyed Peas: “Where is the love” down the hallway and force everyone to hug at the beginning of the day as a sort of ‘truce’
This day, I felt bullied over a project I’d been working on and I was trying my hardest not to ‘throw in the towel’, scream and react (even though I very much wanted to throw punches – or, errr slaps). I remembered the 90-second rule by Jill Bolte Taylor – a brain researcher – who says:
“When something triggers you, the chemical released by your brain surges through your body causing a physiological reaction.
Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical reaction of your anger has run its course through your blood and your automatic response is over.”
She’s saying that IF you remain angry after those 90 seconds, it is because you have chosen to let that circuit continue to run – you’ve added your own story to it and chosen to hold on to the emotion.
According to Taylor, if we remind ourselves of this – breath through it and whatnot – we can simply allow the emotion to naturally pass and flush out of our system.
Ultimately, from time to time we are forced to deal with dickheads – whether it be at work or elsewhere. You might feel bullied, you might feel like throwing punches… but such is life – and I knew I had to pull my big girl panties up and fucking BREATH.
I left work that afternoon, feeling furious – but avoiding a screaming match – and drove myself straight to the gym where I could take out all my frustrations
Tomorrow would be better, I thought.
Later that same night, I noticed the emotion reignite when I was in the shower.
Without meaning to, I had started replaying that afternoon at work and imagining witty comebacks to a colleague’s bitchy remarks. I imagined what I wanted to say but knew I shouldn’t and felt the anger rising in me again. I quickly directed my thoughts into my body instead – by calling on my five senses and noticing, with childlike curiosity, where I was in that moment.
Being in the shower is a place where my mind immediately starts to wander and therefore prime time to practice this mind-taming, mindfulness trick.
I focused on one sense at a time: What can I see? The shape the water makes as it runs down my body, the windows fogging up, that the bloody unrelenting hair had grown back on my feet. Next, taste – the shampoo that’s run into my mouth – what I can feel and touch, how the water feels on my skin and on my scalp, the different textures of the tiles…
As I did this, my mind quietened, and thoughts subsided.
It always reminds me of that scene out of ‘Get Him To The Greek’ when Aaron (Jonah Hill) is freaking out after taking a “Geoffrey” (some kind of hallucinogen) and he’s told to stand by the fluffy wall, stroking it and thinking calming thoughts.
Eventually, I caught sight of my tits in the bathroom mirror and thought I’d do the responsible thing and give them a quick check to make sure they felt ‘normal’. As I stood there, naked, clamping and squeezing all around my breasts, I thought I felt a lump in one of them.
Nah, that was your nipple mate, you’re imagining it – Nance said
I thought she was right – until I went over it again in the same spot, and decided:
Oh, shit. There really is a lump in there.
I quickly got out of the shower, dried myself and stalked off, anxiously, in search of my partner or my mother-in-law for a second opinion. They both agreed that there was definitely a lump, directly below my nipple.
I suddenly was inundated with thoughts as my mind, Nance, chimed in:
“OMG this is it. I’m dying”
“What if I have to have it cut out, will that ruin my implant? I don’t have enough money to replace them yet!”
“If I have breast cancer, am I still going to be able to get married in March?”
Followed by a long, hysterical cry.
I resolved to take the morning off the next day and get to the doctor’s to have it checked. I tried to reassure myself by remembering that statistic that I love to call on when I’m worrying:
Still – Nance wasn’t relenting yet:
“But you’re grandmother had breast cancer. Your chances just jumped up 10 fold, babe” and;
“Also, one of your implants is buggered up. What if that’s triggered a cancer to form?”
SHUT UP, right?
Dr Russ Harris says that when you’re stuck in a state of rumination (worrying over and over about the same thing) – whether it could be TRUE, or not – there comes a point where you need to say:
- Does this thought help me take action to improve this situation?
For me, I’d already made a doctors appointment to get a clearer picture of what is going on inside my tits – so, yes it did…but, now I don’t need it to keep popping up to stress me – I’VE ALREADY TAKEN ACTION (so, F*ck off mind);
Next, he says to ask yourself:
- Is this helpful?
Obviously not, in the case of thoughts like:
“Omg I’m going to die”
“What if I have to have my tits chopped off”
Truthful or not, thoughts are just words. If they’re not helpful, then why bother listening to them? It’s best to quickly defuse them in this case.
Defusing means not getting sucked in by the thought, like a gullible little guinea pig. One simple defusion technique is simply thanking your mind:
“When your mind starts coming up with the same old stories, simply thank it. Say silently to yourself: Thanks for sharing! Or: Is that right? How fascinating! Or simply, Thanks Mind!
(When thanking your mind, don’t do it aggressively or sarcastically – do it with warmth and humour and with a genuine appreciation for its amazing storytelling ability).
AND THEN MOVE ON – by paying attention with your five senses and distracting yourself with an activity. Do something you enjoy like, putting together Ikea furniture (guilty pleasure), doing a gym class, rearranging all the furniture in your house or seeing friends.
It’s times like these (lumpy boobs and all) I’m stoked to have all this mind-taming training up my sleeve…to occasionally ignore and then remember when I have a bout of anxiety!