I recently ventured on a potentially dangerous worry path. I have two daughters who are in college. One is in California, the other is in Arizona. I live in Colorado. We are not geographically close. I have been talking to my daughters every few days lately as they have been getting settled in and so much is new in their lives right now. After a few unsuccessful attempts to reach one of my daughters over the course of two days, it dawned on me that she had not texted or called…no reply. This was unusual for her. I was preparing to doze off for the night when a thought occurred to me: Maybe she was kidnapped. Yeah, that’s a pretty extreme thought. She has two suitemates and lives across the hall from the RA. I think someone would have notified me; however, before I got to that thought I was starting to swirl in the worry zone. Before my thoughts got out of hand, I stopped them. I had just called her before going to bed, so I wasn’t going to call again. I reminded myself that my daughter has roommates who would tell someone if she unexpectedly disappeared. I decided if I still hadn’t heard from her by morning, I could contact her roommate. There was nothing more for me to do at that point. Then I started thinking about happy things…a meadow filled with hues of green, lush, dense growth, sunlight streaming through the trees, warmth in the air…zzzzz.
When thoughts begin spinning out of control, remind yourself of the things you know to be true. Anchor your thoughts to facts and reality. The more you train your brain to stay with truth, the quicker you will get there. You have to work at it though. Our inclination is to create stories and then our emotions follow the fiction. I often equate creating healthier thoughts to changing our eating habits. If we want to lose weight, we have to put down the bag of chips, walk away from the cake and get moving. It’s the same with thought changes…put down the fiction and think about the undeniable truth in that moment.
By the way: My daughter had left a message on the home phone which I hadn’t checked. I discovered that bit of truth the next day when my daughter called and said, “Didn’t you get my message?” 🙂