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Taming Paper Tigers

Melli O'Brien



Melli O'Brien



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Taming Paper Tigers

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today, I'm going to talk

about taming paper tigers.

So you might've heard of this

term before, paper tiger.

It's a term that refers to something

or someone that claims or appears

to be powerful and threatening,

but is actually ineffectual and

unable to withstand challenge.

So as we go about our lives, there

are many things that invoke fear in us

that are actually just paper tigers.

Most of them are our

fear inducing thoughts.

So for instance, we worry about things

that will probably never happen or

things that we really can't control.

We worry about what other

people might think of us.

We catastrophize, that is, we play

out worst case scenarios in our minds.

And we sweat the small stuff.


So in all these ways and more, we

create paper tigers in our mind.

Giving things much more weight and

substance in our minds so that they

seem much more scary and stressful.

So as I'm saying this, you might

already be beginning to think

about what I'm about to ask you.

And that is, what are your paper tigers?

You know, everybody's different.

What are the thoughts that tend to tip

you towards fear, stress, and anxiety?

Perhaps you find yourself playing out a

lot of what if scenarios in your mind.

You know, what if I lose my job,

what if my partner leaves me,

what if I have cancer right now

and I just don't realize it.

Or maybe your paper tigers

come in the form of worrying

about what people think of you.

Did I say the right thing?

Am I fitting in?

Do they like me?

Am I doing anything that

could get me rejected?

Am I beautiful enough?

Am I successful enough?

Or perhaps it's a sense of making

mountains out of mole hills.

When small inconveniences or

setbacks, when they happen,

become quite big in your mind.

So for instance, something like,

you're going to be late and you think,

oh my God, they're going to hate me.

They're never going to

invite me anywhere again.

Or you might have a headache and think, oh

gosh, my mom had a stroke around this age.

I could be next.

So whatever your particular paper

tigers are, even though they might

claim to be big and scary, in

reality, they're simply thoughts.

Bits of language that arise

in the mind and dissolve.

They're really just mental events.

So even though they can induce

a lot of stress and fear, they

really have no power to hurt you.

This reminds me, there's an

old acronym for fear, F E A

R - false evidence appearing real.

And that's a really good acronym

to remember when the paper

tigers arise in your mind.

So today and ongoing, I invite you to

be attentive and on the lookout for

your paper tigers when they arise.

And when they do, see if you can

take a pause, take a breath and

then examine them closely to see

if they're simply false evidence

drawing you in to unnecessary anxiety.

In this way, you can let go of stress,

reclaim your inner strength and peace and

enjoy a more mindful and meaningful life.

As always, thank you for your

practice and your presence here.

Let's settle in for today's meditation.

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