I made myself sit down again, with no distractions, and redid the visualization exercise to address my fear of being left behind by old friends who are really no longer there. I felt super cheesy again, but stuck with it—interestingly, despite the briefness of the entire exercise, my brain kept wanting to be distracted during the exercise. Like I’d imagine going out the front door of my house, and my brain would say, “Don’t forget, the panel on the bottom of the door needs to be fixed.” With effort, though, I kept my focus on the relevant pieces and completed it.
I also set up a reminder on my phone that squeaks at me every time I leave my house. It says something to the effect of: Today I will focus on myself, and not speculate on what other people are doing. I’m not sure if this is having any measurable effect, but it is a convenient way to keep it in the front of my mind.
I can’t believe it…but it seems to have worked! Again! The actual result is the same this time around: if I think about this issue or try to focus on it, my mind seems to just slide away from it. Like my subconscious is saying, “Nah, not really anything to think about over there. Let’s think about bears again.”
I’m about to try it on every anxiety I have. I suppose I need to wait longer (a year, maybe?) to be sure that it’s really holding, but I have somehow convinced my brain that there’s no percentage in agonizing over other people whose actions I can’t control. At least, in these two situations.
But given the actual number of hours I have spent agonizing over these two pieces of my life in the last few years, if this is the only time I try this out, or the only time it works, I feel like I’m getting about a 10,000% return on my effort. (Maybe. I’m bad at math.) I’m actually pondering what I’ll do with the time saved. Take up knitting? Write a book about how to stop agonizing over other people’s thoughts and actions? Cure the world of the horrible-grammar epidemic?
Seriously, it’s an utterly freeing feeling, and it’s putting me in a great mood. I feel more confident, more optimistic, and less dragged down by past events.