The concept regards the everyday stories we tell ourselves which then become our reality. For example, I was recently picking up some tickets from a local Ticketmaster outlet. I’d ordered the tickets online months ago. I handed over my credit card and driver’s licence but for some reason the system would not allow the clerk to print my tickets. The clerk had to call Ticketmaster where she was promptly put on hold. I was fine for about the first five minutes. I was leaning on the counter watching the clerk through the glass while she waited on the phone. Then the story started to form in my head. These were very popular tickets that I had bought for someone else. So my thought pattern went something like this – maybe my online order didn’t go through and that’s why they can’t print my tickets – I knew this would happen – I hate ordering tickets online – I didn’t bring my confirmation number – they better refund my money – but that doesn’t help me, I really need these tickets – I’ll never be able to get tickets now.
I’m not sure how long this lasted before I realized I was totally making this story up in my head. None of it had actually happened. I was still leaning on the counter looking at the clerk who was still on hold. However, my mind had taken me on a journey to the imagined future – and it wasn’t a pleasant future. This imagined future was causing me stress. My reality, on the other hand, just involved waiting. Luckily, I did manage to turn the story off and just wait. Another five or so minutes went by and the clerk finally connected with someone, confirmed my mailing address, and presto – printed my tickets.
My mind had taken me to a stressful place that was completely imagined. We get caught up in these stories all the time and don’t even realize that we are causing ourselves stress. What I am working on now is being mindful and recognizing when my mind starts to wander off into something other than what is actually happening right now.
As Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”