It didn’t happen instantly, and it wasn’t exactly easy, but it feels so much better. I can finally breathe again.
By using the skills I’ve learned as a life coach, I’ve come to a place where I’ve found my own strength so I can concentrate on being a support for him during this time.
I’m sharing my story and process with you today in hopes it might help others who are going through their own stressful situations.
I got the news 2 days ago.
I admit, at first I tried to avoid thinking about it. Of course that didn’t work. (Never does!)
Then I went in the opposite direction – thinking about it non-stop. (Another poor choice.)
In the moments I let my mind just roam freely, it seemed to want to jump back to 4 years ago…
Four Years Ago
It began as a normal workday. Hubby had already gone to the office and I was in the middle of my morning routine.
As I was finishing up my hair, the phone rang. Although early morning calls are rare in our house, I didn’t think much of it. It was my husband, and his voice sounded tight. He told me he was on his way to the Heart Hospital and to meet him there.
As I rushed over, I prayed it was all just a false alarm. But it wasn’t.
The next 24 hours were a blur. Because the hospital was busier than usual and was experiencing a bed shortage, my hubby spent the next several hours in an ER bed. It was chaotic. On top of that, even though I’d spent 10 years working with the area’s cardiologists (as part of my job), the cardiologist we ended up with was unknown to me. He had just transferred in from out-of-state, so I had no idea what to expect from him.
Seeing my husband hooked up to oxygen and monitors as he awaited his procedure, was unreal.
Eventually it was his turn. Even as they wheeled him out of the room, I still tried to convince myself it was just a false alarm.
About an hour later I was summoned to the nurses station. I walked quickly, feeling relieved it was over so soon.
Something was Wrong
But when I got there, a nurse handed me a phone. “It’s Dr. H,” she said. “He needs to talk to you.”
As I pressed my ear against the phone, I could hear my husband’s cardiologist explaining the situation. It wasn’t good news. He said the blockage was significant and in a tricky area. He could either work on him in the cath lab, or send him straight into open heart surgery. It was my choice.
My heart fell. My hubby’s well-being, and possibly his life could be affected by my decision. If I made the wrong choice he could actually die.
Because I worked with doctors in the cath lab every day, I knew what Dr. H was proposing could be risky – but that if he could accomplish it, it would save the additional risk of an open heart surgery. Although most of the doctors I knew wouldn’t even attempt this, he sounded confident.
I took a deep breath and asked, “Do you really think you can do it?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Then do it,” I replied, and I hung up the phone before I could change my mind.
Within a few hours I was reunited with my husband. He and the doctor made it through with flying colors. It was then that we found out the blockage was 99% of a major artery. Had it gone untreated, the chance of him experiencing a massive heart attack within the next few weeks were very high.
We were so incredibly lucky!
Some days I forget that part of the story. I forget how lucky we were….how lucky we ARE.
Thoughts Gone Wild
Instead, when I let my mind roam freely, I often fixate on the part about if his blockage had gone undiscovered and untreated. Or the “what ifs” of if the doctor couldn’t accomplish this tricky procedure.
Back to this Week
Earlier this week, there had been a lot of, “What if things don’t work out as well this time?”
That’s what’s so funny about our minds… They love to take us down the whole WHAT IF scenario. It’s mind crack. Mind crack steals the present moment.
The truth is, right now my hubby is here with me. In a little over a week he’s going into the cath lab, but not today. So when I let my brain run free with “What Ifs,” mind crack keeps me from enjoying him right now.
Mind Crack Hell and How it Seduces Us
The thing about mind crack is that it’s usually all lies anyway. It seduces us into somehow thinking we’re just “being prepared” by venturing down the WHAT IF path.
But until any of it happens – it’s not even real!
However, as we think these terrifying thoughts, they create real feelings, that can produce immediate changes in our bodies. Heart rates quicken, chests tighten, breathing becomes shallow, headaches begin, sleep becomes interrupted, etc…
So why stay in Mind Crack Hell? You can escape! Read on to find out how I got out.
5 Steps out of Mind Crack Hell
1. Determine your current core feelings about the situation. For me, I’ve been feeling everything from confusion to frustration and even anger. But when I dug in, I realized at its core, it was fear. I adore my husband and fear losing him.
2. Release any dirty pain stories. Dirty pain comes from resisting what is. For example, I could easily slip into a story about how my husband has crappy genes and that it’s not fair that he has to go through this at such a young age. See how that dirties up the raw emotion here? See how it’s resisting what is? Do your best to drop these kinds of stories. Keep your feelings clean.
3. Feel your feelings fully. Whatever thoughts you’ve been thinking up until now have created corresponding feelings within the body. To release a feeling – it needs to first be fully felt.
- Get still. Take a deep, cleansing breath and bring your attention to your body.
- Locate the feeling or emotion within your body.
- Try to describe the feeling as you focus in on it. To further isolate the feeling, ask the following: Does it feel hard/soft, fast/slow, pink/yellow/purple/etc…?
- Now that you’ve brought all your attention to it, let the feeling just wash over you completely. Feel the raw feeling. Let it flow through and then out of you.
The good news is – this process is surprisingly quick. According to brain researcher, Jill Bolte Taylor ::
It takes “less than 90 seconds” for an emotion to get triggered, surge chemically through the blood stream, then get flushed out.
Does that sound unbelievable to you? If so, there’s a real good chance you’ve been resisting feelings. That’s why they stick around. Resisting feelings is what causes them to last longer than 90 seconds.
Fighting feelings creates a spin cycle that can go on for days, weeks, even years. An example of this would be chastising myself over feeling fear. The more I tell myself I “shouldn’t” be afraid…the longer the feelings would stick around. See how that works?
4. Choose your new thoughts. Now decide what it is you WANT to think about this situation. After all, you can guide your mind instead of letting it run wild. For example, I’m now choosing to think about the fact that in my old job I personally observed hundreds of cath procedures and 99.9% of the ones I observed went smoothly. So my new thought is, “I have every reason to believe we’ll be part of the vast majority of smooth caths.”
5. Consistently guide your focus. Set up ways to remind yourself of your new thought. Over the next week, I’ve set up several ways to guide my focus. I’ve chosen the phrase “smooth sailing” to easily remind me of the new thought I’ve chosen. This phrase is currently my screensaver, an alarm on my phone, a sticky note on my mirror, etc… Each time I see it – it brings me right back to this thought I WANT to think. With this new focus I already feel more relaxed and at peace.
Hope that helps any “mind crack” situations you’re currently experiencing. Sending you much love!