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One day at work I met a man who looked to be about 60. When I entered his name into the computer, I sat down beside him to ask him his birthday because I thought the year was a typo.
“No, that’s right,” he said. “I turned 98 this year!”
“Wow! You look decades younger. What kind of anti-aging beauty cream do you use?”
He laughed. “I still drive. I still play bochi ball. I’m still very active.”
“So at 98 years of age, what is your secret to longevity?” I asked.
“Well, I learned a long time ago not to worry about things I can’t change, so I quit worrying. People worry themselves to death, ya know.”
After a long day, I was in the shower attempting to wash everything away, but thoughts and worries sped through my mind like a car blurring past at the Indy 500.
It felt silly, but there I was worrying over a guy I’d been dating. Is he seeing someone else? Why do I get so nervous with him? Does he even like me?
I replayed an awkward scene in my head from one of our dates. Why was I attached to these thoughts?
I felt the sensation of water bouncing on my skin and took a deep breath, relieved to be in the moment and back in my body standing in the shower.
I thought to myself, “Oh shit, did I even shampoo my hair?” I couldn’t remember how long I’d been in there!
These obsessions had prevented me from relaxing. I had missed feeling the warm water, the gentle massage of washing myself, the calm effect of being underneath the soothing splashes.
Dammit, why does worry have so much control over me sometimes? How can I shift to living in the now, the reality I want to live in?
Asking these questions is the first step to quieting obsessive thoughts. Once you’re aware that your worry is becoming all-consuming, these five tools can help you stop yourself from stressing over that special someone in your life.
Take a deep breath and count for four seconds on your inhale. Hold it for two seconds and count for five seconds on your exhale.
This will saturate your brain with oxygen and bring you back into your body. It might make you a little lightheaded at first, but you’ll feel instant relief.
Your worrisome thoughts will disappear as you begin breathing deeply, and you’ll become more in touch with your inner sense of self.
After you practice this repetitively and consistently, you’ll begin to habitually fall into the pattern of deep breathing in response to stressors.
Two resources who’ve helped me understand the importance of deep breathing are Judith Kravitz, author of “Transformational Breathing,” and Michael Brown, author of the “The Presence Process.”
What would be so wrong if things didn’t work out with your man? Or if he didn’t like you? Could you possibly be getting your worth from him?
Remember, you have to like you first! Letting go of a mind-made attachment to him (or anything else all-consuming in life) will be the biggest blessing you can give yourself.
If you treat your interactions with him as if you have nothing to lose, you’ll be more relaxed and your time together will flow effortlessly and pleasantly.
He’ll enjoy you much more when you’re being yourself in the moment with him.
Mindfulness is a result of beginning to breathe consistently. You’ll be able to observe your thoughts and shift your perception to your surroundings. The idle chatter of your mind will be in the background of your awareness.
If you’re in your car, watch the cars around you. If you’re in the shower, feel the warm water. If you’re out and about, notice other people and smile at them.
These interactions will relieve you from the unnecessary worries of your mind.
“With time, your need for
a guy will disappear.”
If your mind is replaying a negative thought like a worn-out song and you want to change the station to groove to more positive vibes, rehearse an internal mantra.
A mantra is a sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation or incantation.
It’s more effective if it’s felt inside your heart, and it is great for drowning out the negative self-talk, especially if you need to erase your stress over a guy.
A couple of my favorite internal mantras are:
This includes talking to get approval from others and even texting to pass the time. Talking about nothing as if you’re living inside a “Seinfeld” episode is a way of outwardly dismissing your thoughts.
If you’re chatting all of the time, you’re not aware of what’s in front of you. When you become quiet both internally and externally, worry isn’t gripping your mind.
When you’re not filling space with idle chatter or worry over a relationship, you’re exploring the depth inside yourself, the undercurrent beneath all of the mind-made distractions.
Moments spent worrying are moments lost. Often when consumed with worry, especially over another person, we’re driven by an emotional external need and miss out on a peaceful internal life.
When you breathe deeply, becoming quiet and mindful of your surroundings, you’ll have the ability to put space around your worry and will realize the strength inside of yourself.
Slowly, with time, your need for a guy will disappear and your dream date will be more of an addition and not the end-all, be-all.