I recently spent the afternoon with my beautiful 7-year-old friend. Out of the blue, she told me that she had seen something on a film that was so scary, she couldn’t bring herself to talk about it. She said she thought about it all the time. She looked deeply concerned.
She then very seriously asked me, “If I worry about something, will it happen?” The obvious answer to this question is, of course… no. Hell no. Or, for the more child friendly, heck no.
But this made me think: how often do we adults entertain ‘scary thoughts’ and allow them to run rampant in our minds until we feel insecure and upset? How often do we worry about events that have never happened, probably will never happen? Our fears might be that we run out of petrol or our husband runs off with the hot office blonde, content aside our fear is as genuine as whatever monster a naïve little child can envision.
I explained to her that fear was almost always not real as it exists solely in our thoughts. I asked her, if her worrying had made things come true in the past? She thought about it a moment and grinned as she admitted that this had not happened. I explained that the film she had watched was simply somebody else’s imagination, and that even if we thought really hard about the scary thing, it would never, ever happen. Then we stood there in the kitchen, mid brownie making session, and we thought about something scary and we waited to see if it happened, and of course, it didn’t.
A big toothy smile broke out on her face, and I think that perhaps she learned something that she might take with her in the future. I know I did. I know that next time I catch myself imaging my life going terribly wrong, based upon a generally fictional thought pattern. I’ll stop, I’ll think of my little pal and her scary film, and I’ll smile because no, worry does not make things happen. We can recognize this and we can choose to stop worrying. Easier said than done? Well if a seven year old can do it, I think perhaps we can too. If there is a monster under your bed, I suggest you take a closer look.
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