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You Can't Simultaneously Be Mindful and Worried

A legacy of worry is what I come from and have written about before (to access that, click here). You can

photo credit to Time Goedhart

imagine then that as my oldest child approaches her high school graduation this month that fear, worry, sadness, uncertainty and joy have all been swirling around in my consciousness. When I wrote the legacy post, I had been on my self development journey for a while and had made remarkable strides in the worry department. I am happy to say it continues today. That doesn’t mean though that occasionally the thought of watching this chapter in my daughter’s life come to a close doesn’t make me want to dive head first into a bag of Doritos while numbing out with the TV, it does, but thankfully not often.

I heard a quote sometime back that has stuck with me. It went something like “you cannot simultaneously be mindful and worried”. I wish I knew who said it so that I could properly attribute it to them and also plant a big sloppy kiss on that person. That message has been a game changer for me.

If you don’t know what I mean by mindfulness, it is simply the act of being aware of the present moment. If I am worrying about my daughter’s upcoming graduation I am living in the future and feeling sad about an event that hasn’t even happened yet. When right, now as I write this, she is happily having boba with friends (if you don’t know what boba is ask a teenager, it’s the latest food craze that has them hooked!). I am worrying about an event that hasn’t taken place yet and missing out on the right here and now. We can also do this when we look to the past. Many of us replay moments or events in our minds over and over. Frankly most of us spend a good deal of time in the past or future, not in the current moment.

So as the graduation date approaches and what will be the blink of an eye before she moves away to college I am reminding myself that I cannot be mindful and worried at the same time. I am breathing, grounding myself into this moment. I have also added in some space to honor that there is grief around a chapter closing and when I feel sad I am letting myself feel, I just don’t take up residence there. Emotions are a chemical reaction in the body and if we just allow the feeling it’s usually over in about 90 seconds. It is when we continue to have thoughts about it that the negative emotions continue.

On the night of the graduation I will do my best to be present and watch as she walks across that stage and allow the inevitable tears of pride, joy and sadness. And while you may not have a milestone like this right now there are plenty of occasions in life where bringing in mindfulness can have a huge impact. If you give it a try, let me know if it makes a difference for you. It sure has for me.

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