I fly a lot. So you’d think that I’d become used to turbulence and messages broadcasted that tell us that they won’t be serving meals due to ‘unpredictable weather patterns’. I can hear Dr Seuss; No, I do not like it. I do not like it at all.
I’ve tried lots of things to help. I’ve meditated throughout the bumpy rides. I’ve ‘mindfulnessed’ myself to feel my feet on the ground, noticed my heart racing, and the feeling of my bum on the seat.
I’ve tried singing my way out of the anxiety. Russ Harris in The Happiness Trap taught me that lil’ trick. And to an extent it does work. He suggests that you sing the words to how you are feeling, so it reduces the seriousness of it. So I would sing ‘I’m having a thought that I will die. I’m having the thought that I could die’, a number of times. I’m sure the passenger next to me thought I was praying.
Yeah I’ve tried that too; ‘Please God. No not today’. Interestingly, that was the most unhelpful one. And I am a believer too. Go figure.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I was awake one morning having my quiet time with the Big Fella. Yep God. I was pondering on my Mum. She left us 17 years ago to Leukemia. I was 29 at the time and pregnant with my son Jacko. I was wondering if my kids would lose me early too. I wouldn’t say I was worrying. Just wondering. And then that small still voice whispered to me; ‘Georgia, you will live a long life’.
Really? Will I? So I decided to believe it. I’ve had many, what others might call ‘random’, words in my life that have proven to be true. Like ‘Don’t get in that elevator’ so I wait for the next one and then the first one breaks down. I decided this belief of living a long life is not a self-limiting one. It’s helpful. I will go with it.
One week I was in driving home from my friends house in Bright, Victoria. About a 4 hour drive home. And a horrendous storm rolled in. The sky went black. I mean pitch black and it was 4pm in the afternoon. Then the lightening started that sounded like whips on top of my car. It was shuddering. The rain hurled down and visibility was down to 1 metre. I was terrified because I could see the thunder hitting the fields next to me.
Then I remembered. I am called to live a long life. What’s the point of having a belief if you don’t use it? So I did. It actually worked. I knew I would get home that night.
Same thing happened on my next plane ride. Bags even fell out of the overhead shelves. ‘I am called to live a long life’. Now that I believe this to be true then I don’t need techniques to calm me.
Then this week I finished ‘Useful Beliefs’ by Chris Helder. It’s a small gorgeous little read. He explained why having useful beliefs works. Our brain has something called the reticular activating system. Our RAS. It’s like when you get a new car and then notice all the same cars on the road. Or decide that all relationships are hard work and then that’s all you see. Whatever you train your mind to look for – it will look for.
Helder tells us that successful people notice things that other people don’t. Because we are trained to look for them. Our RAS says to look for where we tell it to. I gotta tell you. When I fly these days I am feeling pretty good. And when I get into situations where fear would normally take over. I activate my RAS to look for useful beliefs.
What is one thing right now that you can chose a useful belief for? Just pick one and mean it and see what comes from there.