• Inga

Thinking About Doing Something Is Worse Than Doing It

I have been meaning to write some thoughts on this for a long time.

It's another example of what I call common mind traps that I've noticed in myself and in people around me.

How often do we anticipate stress?

How often we build things up in our minds for ourselves?

I see it play out with small day to day things, whether it's household chores, needing to hoover or do up the dishes after a dinner party, go to the post office to return a parcel or reply to that email I've been avoiding, the list goes on. Anticipating doing it often feels worse than simply doing it.

It's also true with the bigger things - starting something new, changing careers or looking for a new job, moving flats or countries, basically putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone, outside of how it is and taking a risk for a change we want to see in our lives. Anticipating a future situation is often more stressful than actually being in it.

In the thinking part, our mind tends to focus on the negative and overestimate how uncomfortable or difficult that thing we have to do or even want to do will be. So much of our lives happen in our mind and so much of our stress is mind-made, coming from the stories we tell ourselves, the patterns and programs we picked up along the way that run our lives.

As Mark Twain has put it powerfully "Some of the worst things in my life never happened" and I couldn't agree more. Gotta give credit to our anxieties, fears and imagination - they're extremely creative in coming up with things that can go wrong, aren't they?

The default mode of our mind is to jump to the worst case scenario - even before it happens we can already be living it out in our minds and it can feel so real.

That's where all that we practice in yoga can come in so handy - to be aware, to catch ourselves in the moment, to pay attention to how we're talking to ourselves, to become the witness of the mind, to notice how we are being pulled to react whether to resist and not even try, or feed the fear and build it up in our heads.

Our job then, as on our mats, is not to get rid of such thoughts and feelings, but to shine the light of awareness and create space around it. By letting it be - not engaging with it or resisting it - our choice how to react and move from there can be more conscious. We can actually be there making that choice, instead of the auto-pilot doing it for us.

There's this simple but brilliant advice I try to remember when I get caught up in worry - "If you stress too much about something before it happens, you basically put yourself through it twice".

Don't resist the stress, but don't feed it either and save your energy for when it's actually happening.

Whether it's that bin that needs emptying, or that busy week ahead at work, it helps to remember the task is often more difficult in our head. We might as well do the real thing, it won't be as hard 🧡

Would you agree? Is this something you experience as well?

Big love,