All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I dropped my son, Eli, off at a weeklong, residential golf program yesterday afternoon in Musselburgh, Scotland. It is the first time for him to experience a summer camp and the first time for him to be away from the family during summer vacation. He was obviously very excited about the opportunity to meet other kids his age from around the world and to be able to play golf all week in such a beautiful country.
However, as we were getting ready to drop him off, he admitted to me that he was feeling nervous and afraid. I commended him for being so open with me about it and, in that moment, decided to try out a mindfulness technique that allows us to flip our anxiety or nervousness into wonderings.
So, I asked Eli to flip his anxiety into statements that begin with 'I wonder.........'.
Eli immediately came up with a number of 'I wonder' statements and this allowed him to reframe the anxiety and nervousness into a normal part of the process of moving into a new experience that is unknown to us. The 'I wonder' statements that Eli came up with were:
I wonder how many other kids there will be at camp.
I wonder if they are going to be nice.
I wonder what my golf coaches will be like.
I wonder who I will become friends with.
I wonder how much free time I will have.
I wonder what it will be like playing new golf courses.
Eli and I were able to have a genuine conversation about the fact that many people experience anxiety and nervousness heading into new situations and new environments and that it is very normal to experience these emotions. In reframing his anxiety and nervousness, I felt that it put him into a much more open and accepting state that ultimately allowed him to better embrace the unknown environment he was about to head into. It is a very mindful act of internal self-awareness to be able to flip our anxiety and nervousness into 'I wonder' statements and it requires curiosity and openness.
It allows us to have honest conversations with ourselves and to give ourselves a break when feelings of anxiety and nervousness pop up in our lives as we head into situations unknown. I'm glad Eli and I could experience this moment together yesterday before we dropped him off.
Think about an upcoming event or situation that you will face in your life that may be causing you anxiety or stress. How might you reframe this experience by creating your own 'I wonder' statements to better prepare you mentally for the experience itself? As Ralph Waldo Emerson states in the quote above, "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better". Experimenting with different mindfulness techniques to help us better understand ourselves not only leads to deeper learning, but also allows us to find methods and strategies that help to provide us with a greater sense of well-being, so experiment away as much as possible as you continue on your own paths of self-learning.
Thanks for reading.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily