Cat herding day
Today is officially Cat Herding Day. Really, I’m not making it up. Check out daysoftheyear.com and you’ll see. There’s a day for everything, and this one for today really got my attention, because having anxiety is just like herding cats. Anxious thoughts are cat herding thoughts. You round them up, and they scatter.
I have genuinely tried herding cats. You get them into one room, or so you think, to find one’s sitting on the floor, looking at you, with its claws just ready to rip into the arm of your sofa, and the other one has ninja-ed away into the kitchen and has treats spread all over the floor. And they weren’t even my cats.
The same is true of negative, automatic intrusive thoughts. They’re not really your thoughts. And as the site says, this day is really for those of us who feel as though we have to achieve the insurmountable. Living a day without anxiety would seem to be that kind of task, wouldn’t it?
We try to herd our thoughts around as if they were cats. Shut them in one room, keep them contained. It doesn’t work like that though. It’s a bit like playing Whack a Mole, you successfully bash one of them down for three more to pop up elsewhere.
Your mind gives you exactly what it thinks you want, did you know that? By attempting to suppress thoughts, the mind thinks you want more thoughts to make you feel crappy. Awfully accommodating, our minds. Feel like shit? Here, have this. Oh and this. And while you’re at it……and before you know it you are herding, unsuccessfully.
I’m more of a fan of free range thoughts. Allowing your mind to wander where it will go, as Paul McCartney once said. It’s ok, because if you are a free ranger, you don’t need to let your thoughts have any importance attached to them. Once they become slightly more amorphous ideas, you can begin to let them go. Or capture them briefly, imagine they’re light as a feather, and you can let go of them and they float off in the breeze. Suppressing them, TRYING NOT TO THINK ABOUT THEM; guess what that makes you do? Yep, you try not to think, and then you obsess and no good can come of that.
Stop herding. Let the little buggers wind themselves around your ankles. It’s ok. They can’t hurt you unless you give them the power to do that; and I don’t think you want to be rendered powerless by your thoughts.
If you really want to observe Cat Herder’s Day, I suggest you get a big frock and a shepherd’s crook and proclaim yourself the Cat Master (or something). Alternatively, acknowledge those thoughts, and move on. Your mind (and the cats) will thank you for it.