One of the biggest things people ask my advice on is over thinking things and how dis-empowering the thoughts can be. How do habits and obsessions form? How come they feel so over powering? How can we let them go when we don’t feel in control of them?
Over the years I have found that my ‘Don’t feed the Cat’ analogy has helped thousands of people see why and how, then start the process of change. Of course as the story unfolds you can see that change doesn’t happen overnight but today could be your day to start the process of change for you. You will be able to look back in a few weeks and see how much this has changed your mind set.
Lets imagine that you are living happily in your home and you notice a little stray cat around your garden he seems quite harmless living outside skinny and looking very undernourished.
You start to feel sorry for the cat and you decide to feed it, and then you notice that you’re looking out to see if the cat has come back and before you know it the cat has arrived. You then find the cat starts coming around more, he’s still hungry and you start feeding him more often. Before you know it, he’s trying to get in your house, he is no longer skinny and growing bigger and bigger as the days goes by.
Let’s skip a few weeks, months or even years and your now being stalked by the cat, whenever you look out the window he’s there in the garden, he jumps on the window sill to attract your attention and try’s to get through the door. Even if you’re not looking, you can hear him meowing outside, day and night. When you leave the house, he’s right there by your feet so close he could trip you up wanting to be acknowledged by you and you find your feeding him more each day. Each day he’s growing bigger and bigger and you know feel very. out of control of the situation.
This is exactly how a habit grows……. It just starts with a small thing…. IE feeding the cat.
That’s what happens, just a small thing can lead to a big habit, now the cat is massive, towering over your house and every window you look out of you can see him. He doesn’t go away, he doesn’t seem to want to go away and in fact you start to feel that he will never leave your garden and home again. This is what happens when we let our worries get out of hand. At times we can feel completely overwhelmed by them, we can’t seem to escape the thoughts and worries and for some of us we can feel we will never be able to let the worries go.
But the pleasure with this story is that the massive cat you have sitting outside your house is there because of your actions so you are in control! but you might not have know it until now. The cat is there at that size because over time you have been feeding it IE worrying and over thinking your issues. So if you have created this big cat of course you can work to help it go away too. You may be thinking how can I? I don’t feel normal anymore, I don’t feel the same happy person I used to be, I don’t feel I have the strength to fight it. You don’t need to fight it you just need to stop feeding it and just like not feeding the cat with food it will start to shrink and so will the habit of worry.
It doesn’t have to be this way, if the thoughts come to mind don’t connect with them. Think of something else…count backwards … Sing a song (in your head if you’re at work or your colleges will look at you strangely!!). Get absorbed in the moment. Anything that stops you feeding the thoughts as you know now this is the only thing which has allowed them to grow so big. With time those thoughts will have gone away, but don’t keep looking out the window to check if he’s come back, IE don’t keep check to see if your still thinking about your worries!. That will only mean indirectly your feeding the worries and as we know that means they are going to get bigger just like feeding the cat.
Back to the massive cat stalking you in your own home… If you decide to not feed the cat, he will at first keep asking for you to feed him. He will still be there meowing and looking through the windows and following you when you go out the house and of course still trying to get in. But let’s get one think straight the cats not stupid if you continue this and don’t feed him firstly, he will get hungry. Secondly his resolve to know that you will feed him again will start to diminish, and of course he will get bored of waiting. Then when’s he’s hungry he will go in search of food elsewhere! Happy days you have turned a corner and the habit is on the way out. This analogy shows you exactly what will happen with your habit of worrying if you stop feeding it and distract yourself, your mind will realise you no longer want this habit. Within a few weeks if you hadn’t feed the cat it would hardly be there, in a few months it will only pop by occasionally and your habits will follow this same route. If you had a habit a long time then just like the cat it may pop back even after a few months or even years, but remember one thing DON’T FEED IT.
So from now on whenever a thought comes to mind just think about this story and laugh it off, get absorbed in something else and you will soon be worry free.
If you have any comments or questions just let me know.
Thanks for dropping by x