still I won't let go

I recently traveled for on my first mid-west trip. I had heard horror stories about the weather out there this time of year: snow, winds, and sub-zero temps. What is a girl from North Carolina supposed to pack on a trip like this?

I hate second guessing baggage claim at the airports if I have a connecting flight. Will my bag actually make it on my plane or will it get lost in the mayhem? With this thought, I decided to concentrate on my first ‘carry-on only’ flight. Since my trip was only for 4 days, I thought I could manage with a backpack and a purse.

But then, I thought about the weather. I figured a parka was a must, plus a medium jacket, and a light weight one. In addition to jackets, there are those winter necessities: gloves, hats, scarves, boots, and socks. Don’t forget clothes and toiletries!! After a miracle moment, my backpack actually closed with all the above items. I even brought my fancy camera and a gift for my friend. Amazing! I felt prepared, ready, and above all- warm!

Stepping out of the Detroit airport, I was greeted with a couple feet of dirty snow, winds blasting my face off, and shocking temps. I was ready. For one night anyways, I was cozy warm. The first night was icy, snowy, and I felt my breath was freezing in my lungs. But the next morning, and every morning following, I woke up to decent temps: 40’s and sunshine. Really?! I began to feel over-prepared and a little silly for all the packing worries.

My backpack was heavy, full to the bursting point, and above all: unnecessary.

How many times to we fill our own thought life with unnecessary worries and stresses? Maybe you’re just trying to feel prepared for the journey ahead; maybe you’re worried that you’ll be caught off guard and put in a vulnerable position. What if this armor we put up is actually holding us down? Your emotions will be affected by these superfluous worries: increased anxiety, irritability, sleep problems, etc.

I could say something cheesy like, “Throw your backpack down” or “Only pack the necessities” or something along those lines. But the reality is that most of us have no idea what our bare necessities are when it comes to our thought life. Our minds simply run rampant. So instead of a list of ideas to minimize stress in your head, what about simply asking, “What is the root of this thought?”

If the roots of your thoughts tend to be grounded in anxiety, performance stress, self-esteem, or fear- would you want to hold on to all of that? Not me! It’s alright to be prepared for ‘winter weather,’ but only to a certain extent.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Is this thought healthy?
2. What is this thought trying to accomplish? What is the end result?
3. How will this thought or worry affect me the rest of today?
4. Am I going to put up with myself thinking this thought?

Don’t be surprised if you start making some changes!

~Author: Sarah A. Miller, MA at Miller Counseling Services, PC

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