When I was a kid, I experienced my first trip to the airport to pick up my dad and as we got in the car my mom, who has severe anxiety, told us we needed to “pray hard so we would be safe.” Up until that moment I had no thought that we might not be safe, I had no fear. But her fear got me thinking of all kinds of bad things that could happen to us at this exotic place called “the airport.” In fact, after she said that, I asked, “if it’s not safe why are we going?”
People say worry and stress are bad and they are, but you don’t always hear why. The problem with worry and fear is that they create pictures in your head of all the bad things that might happen. It’s those pictures that are the REAL problem.
Your unconscious mind does not know the difference between a real or imagined event. If you imagine bad things happening, your physical body can start to respond as if bad things are happening. As you get scared a whole cascade of hormones are released, and you lose your inner peace.
So, what do I do?
Work on imagining good things happening and your body will respond with happy feelings and joy. When I head to the airport I always imagine an amazing parking spot, no lines at the check-in, free checked bags, Einstein Bagels is just pulling warm blueberry bagels right when I show up, no one is in the security line, and I get to sit in the emergency isle, so I get 6 extra inches of foot space. Just writing this now is making me happy.
Intellectually, I know that the odds of all that cool stuff happening at once are basically zero, but I don’t care; because if I imagine that I “need to pray hard to be safe,” it puts me on track to get a panic attack. If I imagine the opposite, it leaves me trying to decide if I want strawberry cream cheese or plain cream cheese on that perfect warm bagel.
I am not of the school of thinking that picturing bad things happening will cause that to be so. I believe that some things in life really are random; but, I know what happens to the physical body when you feed it stressful pictures, so I prefer to feed it happy ones. The actual airport experience may still be bad, but at least I got to spend a few minutes in my happy place while I waited in a long line at Delta Airlines rather than considering taking Xanax. For those of you traveling this season, imagine happy travels and it will be so. Namaste
Jill Thomas CHT
Soul Connect Hypnotherapy
Encinitas, CA 92024