Anticipation and Expectation
The other day I overheard someone say, “When I’m trying to make a decision, I imagine a particular scenario and listen to how my body feels. If a knot lets go . . . ”
As a massage therapist and mindfulness practitioner, I was delighted. But I noticed something else. I realized I’d been anticipating that she was going to say the reverse: “If something in me tightens up . . . ”
That’s my negativity bias at work.
Tuning in to possible threats can protect us. But, after a point, it harms us. Anticipating danger all the time causes tension where tension doesn’t help. Expecting threats increases physical and emotional pain. It literally warps the nervous system to expect threats all the time. Using our powerful minds this way detracts from our ability to appreciate all the things that really are going well and contributing to our joy.
As a massage therapist, I aim to facilitate your relaxation and comfort by being aware of your potential discomfort and neutralize the anticipation of threats.
Last week, a client told me that her flu vaccination site was sore, so please avoid it. As I worked near her arm, I quietly assured her that I was avoiding her deltoid, just in case (I added) she was wondering if I remembered as I was getting close to it. She thanked me, exhaled, and settled into the massage table.
If my client hadn’t told me about her sore flu-shot site, she might have been tense during her massage in anticipation of being startled and hurt—and I might have hurt her. Once I assured her that I remembered, she was able to release mental and physical tension and stop waiting for me to approach her arm.
Her willingness to mention it and my reassurance of avoiding it contributed to her physical and emotional comfort.
Never mind the rubber and the road. This is the mind and body, one being, indivisible.