It occurred to me the other day that Halloween is probably not a good time for some people with anxiety disorders. After all there are spiders, strange children knocking at your door, darker evenings and maybe a sense of foreboding.I have always wondered why people want to celebrate evil? Anyway if you do have an anxiety disorder of one sort or another or if you are just the sort of person that worries about lots of things then there is a solution: one of my clients calls it the worry train.
It is an idea I have taken from ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy): you imagine that you have arrived early at the station and you are standing on the platform and lots of trains are coming in and out of the station – these trains represent your thoughts – thoughts that you don’t have to pay attention to and you certainly don’t have to obey – especially if they are negative or unhelpful i.e. you choose not to get on board the wrong train.You may temporarily get on board by accident, but you can get off at the next stop.And you certainly can’t stop the trains coming into the station. Eventually they will go and the less attention you pay to these negative thoughts – the less they will come into your mind in the first place. In my imagination the negative thoughts are represented by a black train – a white train for everyday thoughts, a blue train for the future and a green one for the past- maybe a red one too….! After all this is also a useful way to let passing thoughts just go through your mind when trying to meditate or practise mindfulness.
So next time you are afraid of something “going bump in the night”- just stand on that platform and let the thoughts/trains just pass on through.