I recently noticed that I had a mole that was bigger. Ok, to be honest, I wasn’t totally sure if it was bigger. I wasn’t totally sure if it was a new mole or a change to a current mole. But the story I told myself was that this mole was getting bigger. And then, I took a deep dive on the internet and diagnosed myself with skin cancer. Then, I searched for the survival rate of melanoma.
After a few days of this, I finally came to my senses and realized that the only way to get this figured out was to make an appointment to have it removed at the dermatologist. Upon arriving at the dermatologist, I started the conversation with something like this. “Good to see you too. So, the story I’m telling myself is that I’m dying and today is the day that I find out.” We both laughed a little – me more nervously than her. Then, upon looking at the mole, she explained that she didn’t think I had anything to worry about but it did look irritated (well, of course it did, I had been “examining” it for days now…) so she wanted to send it off for testing. She explained that the test wouldn’t come back for 2-3 weeks, and I should forget all about it until then.
Oh yeah, sure. I will just forget all about it, I thought. But doing something about it had actually helped. And I did, indeed, started to forget about it. Until I got a call from the office that my results were back.
And the mole was NOT cancerous.
What a relief. That relief lasted about a couple of hours until I decided, “This foreboding feeling I’m having must be attributed to something else. I must figure out that something else.”
Listen, it does not bring me joy to put all of this into words. It does not please me to share these spirals in a semi-public fashion (depending on how many of you actually read this, ha.)
I’m sharing this because it’s reality for many of us who struggle with anxiety. In my case, my anxiety is often fueled by health triggers. As someone who lost my dad to Leukemia when he was only thirty two years old, there’s a part of me (now 40 years old) who is waiting for my bad news. There’s a part of me that understands this can happen and could be in my family genes.
There are times when I feel really really happy and then experience what Brene Brown calls “foreboding joy.” The idea that “Oh, this feels too good. Too joyous. Something bad is about to happen.” It’s messed up, but I think many of us can relate.
When I find myself in an anxiety spiral or in a place of foreboding joy, self-talk can help but the thing that seems to be helping me the most is movement. Sometimes, I need to just get out of my seat, off the internet, and walk around or take care of something. There’s a lot of talk about “controlling your mind or it will control you.” But sometimes, “snapping out of it” is really hard and the only thing that gets me out of my mind and into the present moment is movement or taking action. It’s why going to that appointment and getting the mole removed brought me peace. It’s how I was able to stop worrying about it because I had done what I could and just had to wait.
Moving or taking action helps me at work as well. When things feel especially hard or perhaps a bit gloom and doom, it’s time for me to walk the building. It’s time for me to get out of my head and into classrooms to celebrate all of the amazing, little moves that educators are making to take really good care of students. Walking the building gives me an opportunity to celebrate all of the wonderful moments that others are making possible.
Also, it’s not just adults in schools who are creating little moments of magic. I can’t tell you the number of middle and high school classrooms I’ve been in where girls have complimented my earrings or shoes. I can’t tell you the number of times that students who have no idea who I am will go out of their way to smile at me and ask me about my day.
I don’t want to miss out on a deliciously full life because I spent time worrying about bad things that might happen. A couple of friends reminded me of one of my favorite Michael J. Fox quotes recently.
“Don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst-case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice.”
There is no shortage of negativity out there. We don’t need to add to it by letting ourselves spend too much time with our fear and worries.
Here’s a short excerpt from the draft of my book: As George Couros said, “We must make the positives so loud that the negatives are almost impossible to hear.” He didn’t say we wouldn’t hear the negatives at all. What he said is that we need to flip the script because right now, it feels like we have to work really hard to hear the positives. What would happen if instead, we had to work really hard to hear the negatives because those positives were just so energizing and motivating?
I would love to have to work hard to hear the negatives. I’m thinking it starts by moving and doing. Because seeing is believing. What we look for, we find. I want to find and unlock the hidden gems of potential in the people and world around me.
And in myself.
What will you do to experience the present moment more fully this week?
Love this one. Much needed!
Thank you for reading, Carrie!