Monday, October 31, 2016

Killing Anxiety Before it Kills You (Part 4)

My fingers were flying across the black and white keys at top speed when I noticed the clicking sound that my fingernails make when they need trimmed.

Bummer. I meant to trim them before my day of practicing began. It's very hard to play difficult music when your nails are the slightest bit too long.

Here's how my thought process continued......(while I kept on playing)

..must trim my nails at lunch..
..I look forward to the day when I can have very long, pretty, painted fingernails...
..remember Florence Littauer and the beautiful long nails she had? I want mine to be like hers...
..and oh yes, how nice of that gentleman at my concert yesterday who came up to me afterward to tell me that because of my song about the "Personalities" he was now going to take that class he originally didn't want to take.....he was now inspired.....good...
...I wonder what Florence is up to these days...
...I'm hungry... fun it is to do concerts when people actually receive something specific from you that will add value to their lives and relationships...
...OOPS.......I shouldn't have let my mind wander so..... I'm totally lost in the song and have no idea where I am...

It happens so predictably now, that part of my practicing for Portraits of White goes way beyond learning the music and executing it well. It also involves making my brain stay focused on only one thought: what's the next note I need to play?

This feels like appropriate advice for more than just music rehearsal!

The scripture seems to give two contradictory statements about our thoughts:

1) Take no thought for tomorrow......
2) Take every thought captive.....

So which is it?  Don't take on any thoughts or take the ones you have captive and make them obedient to what they should be dwelling on?

It's both!!!

So here's the next thing I know about anxiety.  

It often begins with our thoughts. If we can "take no thought", we are much better off.

Kind of like not picking up the chocolate bar off the shelf in the store and putting it into our grocery cart. But the problem is, we are human and we do take thoughts and store them in our "cart". Then we usually have to pay for them later.

This has nothing to do with the blog.....
I saw this picture while looking for an appropriate photo of a grocery cart,
and was distracted by this picture.
Wouldn't it be the DREAM job!!!
To work on streets of chocolate?
...well...maybe it DOES have something to do with the blog....
Therefore, the next thing to do if you have trouble with "taking thoughts", is to learn how to "take them captive".

I remember when I was a little girl visiting my older cowboy cousin in Oklahoma. He showed me how he could ride his horse and lasso a steer with his rope (I wonder now if he was just showing off.) At the time, he really impressed this curious young girl. I mean, I came from a farm, but we didn't do THAT with our calves.

Once he caught it, he pulled the rope tight. The steer was now his captive.

When we have negative thoughts, we have to 'lean into our horse' a little bit and catch the thought by the horns and wrestle it to the least, that's how I view the practice of taking a thought captive. Could be my rural upbringing showing through.

What are you thinking about these days? Could your anxiety be related to your thought life? I know it's definitely true in my life.

"What am I going to do?"

"What if this bill doesn't get paid?"

"What if I can't find work?"

"Who is going to be President?"

These questions usually lead to fear, which inevitably leads to worry and anxiety.

You might not be a musician who has to learn to focus her brain so that her fingers remember where to go next, but we can all learn how to control our thoughts and focus on where they should go next.

There's another verse that suggests things we should think on...good things - things that are lovely, true, honest and pure.

So here are my "thoughts" for the week on killing anxiety.

Start by thinking about your thoughts (I know, bad pun).

Be choosy about which thoughts you "take".

If you fail and "take" the negative ones, then proceed to step 2 and take them captive so they can't do more damage.

Drag the bad thoughts out and replace them with good, true, lovely and hopeful thoughts.

Now....back to focused practicing...and yes, I remembered to trim my nails at lunch.