Updated: Oct 14, 2020
For anyone who is prone to worry and anxiety, this quote will probably resonate to a greater or lesser extent.
It’s an analogy that speaks volumes about the influence that ‘just in case’ thinking has on so many aspects of our day-to-day life, and more importantly, on our potential for happiness within this framework.
Catastrophic thinking, over-analysis and fear of the unknown are sadly all familiar burdens to the modern-day mind.
Like carrying around that darned umbrella… it’s easy to convince ourselves that worry is not only justified, but necessary. A hallmark of our own astute risk-analysis abilities, you could say.
The theory that if we always carry the umbrella, we’ll in some way be better prepared for when our worst fears eventualise (as we believe they will), is one of the most widely believed myths of a generation.
Far from protecting us, these worries do little more than weight us down, block the sun and prevent us looking up!
Learning to let go of the umbrella, however, is no easy feat. Many approaches have been shown to help in this process, but one of the most simplistic - yet nonetheless effective - is WRITING IT DOWN.
Journaling might not address the complex aetiology of worry and anxiety, but it is not to be underestimated.
Journaling can impart significant mental health benefits, by helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns, and by allowing you to identify patterns in thinking, so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them. Writing things down also offers an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts.
The very process of putting pen to paper and externalising your inner dialogue works, you could say, as a detox for brain. The words impose structure on your thoughts, which then makes them easier to recognise, acknowledge and then - if necessary - move on.
If you’re keen to give it a go, far from sitting somewhere quiet, a noisy cafe might be a good place to start (according to leadership coach Jackee Holder). Immerse yourself in the acoustics of busy life (social distancing permitting) and you might be surprised at what flows from the subconscious.
The mechanism is... noise distracts your inner critic, who otherwise scrutinises what you write. So, the next time you feel the need to vent, reflect, document or take stock, find your nearest busiest cafe to pitch up with your trusty note book.