We’ve been facing a health crisis with a loved one in our family. It’s a tough time. Just when we think we’re out of the forest and the outlook is better, something else shows up. It’s not easy. And there’s hasn’t been much of a bright light up ahead, at least not in the last few days.

As I contemplate the situation, it’s become clear to me that the hardest thing to handle is the fear of what might be. It’s true of what’s happening in the crisis and yet it’s true of many things in life.

I’m reminded of the wise words of Byron Katie when she says “Reality is always kinder than your thinking – but only 100% of the time”. We spend so much time dreading what might happen, worrying about what could be, deliberating how to respond, what to do.

And yet, when our worst fears come true, it’s usually not as terrible as we imagined. And even if it is – we’re okay. Katie asks, “have you ever not been okay?”

I know this sounds pretty radical, but think about it. Have you ever really not been okay?

If you contemplate the actual moment of the worst possible thing – were you okay, I mean could you breathe, were you calm, what do you notice?

When I began to really meditate on the occurrences that caused me the most pain (or at least that’s how I tell it…) I realized that in the actual moment, I was okay.

I see that in every moment that caused me pain, it’s usually my thinking that has causes me the most pain, not the moment itself.

But, as Katie says, don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Sit in a place where you will be undisturbed. Get really quiet. Relax your body and notice your breathing.
  • Think about the worst moment, that thing you dreaded that actually happened. Keep very still and be in that moment. Notice what’s around you. Look at the images, hear the sounds.
  • Were you okay?
  • Keep out of your interpretation, don’t think about what it means? Just keep really still.
  • Stay in that moment and ask yourself again, were you okay?

Today I thought about some very frightening and sad moments of my life. And as I sat quietly in contemplation, I realized, I really was okay.

Of course we never wish for the worst moment ever, we never ask for painful experiences, but as you realize you were okay – you might even notice that the only thing that’s not okay is the story you tell about the experience.

Because if you were truly okay in the moment – is it still as painful as you imagined?

It comes back to the same thing – our fear of the worst possible thing happening is so much worse that the thing itself.

We can never know if what we dread and fear will actually happen. And if you know that if it does happen you’ll be okay, then perhaps you can fear and dread it a little less.

And if you live in the moment – without the story of that fearful event – you are always okay.

What do you think? Share it below.

Share on...

3 comments on “I’m dreading it

  1. I know what you mean by dread over a health crisis. A few years ago three of my adult children died over a two-year period. We had a lot of painful thoughts and preoccupations.
    Now things are turned around and I am the one with the health crises. After a major stroke and then a heart attack, it has been hard to to focus on the good. I do worry about my family, especially my wife who worries about me dying. We can spiral into a dark place if we let ourselves.
    What I have come to realize is that I have been playing a smaller and smaller game in life and that isn’t OK. I have people to help, stories to tell and books to write, and in so many ways a life to enjoy and live. I was exhilarated when my wife said the other day I was getting back to my Pollyanna ways. My long-term positive attitude is taking hold again, and it feels so good!

    Thank you, Lisa, for your timely wisdom and your reminder of Byron Katie’s work.

  2. The fact that you can face this health crisis with love, resilience & all your skills…will get you through…be a Prisoner of Hope. I will lift up prayers.

    I know as human beings we worry & agonize…& create “minsters of the Id”…like when we were little before we got a shot at the Doctor’s Office…cry, whine, maybe even scream…for a little pinch. Health crises are not little pinches, but we must face them…without making it into an agony…spiritual practice, journaling, allowing the tears to fall…but only for a small amount of time…all these can help us through!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *