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Tool Time: Don’t Connect the Dots

by Thea Iberall

For the meditation reading two days ago, I started looking back on all the topics and tools we’ve reflected on over these 500 days. Afterwards, I began thinking about some of the individual tools that she has shared. Today, I picked one to look at.

Don’t connect the dots

In April 2020, Shirley said the phrase “don’t connect the dots” helps remind her that when she starts panic thinking and lacing together negative events, to stop making the connections. Otherwise, she concocts a story laden with doom and gloom which becomes an overwhelming mountain. She said she got the tool from me. And it’s true, I used to connect the dots between everything. When I would be caught in a thunderstorm, I would cower in the corner and freak out because it would bring up memories of when my house was hit by lightning when I was 15 years old. When my father talked to me, I’d feel helpless and angry because it would bring up memories of all the times he lectured me throughout my life. When I would hear a sad love song, it would bring me back to past heartbreaks from past relationships. I couldn’t stay in the present. The memories would project me into a future filled with fear that they would happen again. But at some point in my life, I broke myself out of connecting the dots and learned to stay in the present. A thunderstorm is just a thunderstorm, a song is just a song. And I learned to listen to my dad through my heart instead of through my ears. That’s how I learned how much he loved me.


Shirley revisited this tool in October 2020 when she talked about overthinking. She lived her life as an avid worrier, planning and plotting all the what-if scenarios that could happen. All in the name of safety. She quoted Matt Kahn, “The usefulness of overthinking is that it tends to be an alarm clock. It’s a sign that our heart is closed instead of opened.” Matt says to befriend our mind and that if we catch ourselves looping on regrets and fears, he says to start listening to the sound of our thoughts. The mind’s noise is there to open our hearts. At that morning meditation reading, meditators offered ways to stay present.

From the Shared Wisdom of Our Community

  • Someone said they stopped worrying by starting to sing. It opened up their heart and they felt better.

  • Another said they moved and danced which got them out of their head.

  • Another way offered was to carry something that represents feeling centered and staying connected with one’s heart. An amulet like a stone or something. And when one meditates, to set the intention of what the amulet represents. The object is present with you and there to be a reminder that it represents balance or calmness. It can support one in a difficult situation.

New Beginnings

In November, 2020, Shirley talked about her Soul wanting to learn to overcome struggle to find inner harmony. She said people change if they have enough incentive to do so. It takes work to change, and a commitment, and a trust that I am worth it. She said every morning is another opportunity to reboot or reset. By focusing on feeling her worthiness, she stopped making daisy chains and connecting the dots to every negative memory of what went wrong and what happened. The tendency is always there but each new day is another opportunity to learn more about myself, and give myself what I need.

From the Shared Wisdom of Our Community

  • A meditator said the solution is to be in the moment, and to stay out of my story.

  • Another meditator suggested coming up with an image, maybe something in nature, a leaf or tree to focus on.

  • Another one suggested for each difficult encounter, to pick out the pearl. To not connect the dots but harvest the pearls.

Slow and steady

In December 2020, Shirley talked about drop and roll, the action we learned as a child if ever our clothes caught on fire. When her ‘what if’ chatter starts up, she knows she must stop the negative thinking with mindfulness. Back up the bulldozer, reframe thoughts, interrupt the inside voice that’s jumping to scary conclusions. Take a breath. Speak truthfully to ascertain the facts. Be the adult, as if you are with a scared lost child in a huge mall. Stop the negative from getting out of hand. Drop in to your Higher Self. Ask for help from within. Shirley said that your Higher Self has wisdom that will surprise you. Fear is a virus that spreads by low self-worth. Roll with the facts. It’s up to me to stay slow and steady with myself. Stop Drop and Roll. Beware of connecting the dots. Breathe. Mindfulness in action.

From the Shared Wisdom of Our Community

  • Tools Shirley suggested: Use your breath. Turn on inspiring music. Watch a mood-changing movie to gain a new perspective. Eat a healthy meal or snack. Take a walk and move your body. Take gentle care of you as you mindfully move your fearing mind into your Higher Self.

  • Meditators used the words catastrophizing and pre-suffering to describe connecting the dots. They said to step back into the now and breathe.

  • Someone said that connecting the dots creates expectations, whereas not connecting the dots is living in expectancy and remaining open to any possibility.

  • Someone else thought of the pictures we used to create as kids by connecting the dots and seeing the emerging image. We can’t always see the final image and that means we have to deal with the uncertainty we are afraid of. If we always knew the final image, the meditator said we would miss many surprises. If we put the dots at the vertices of a square and connect them, you get a box. If you connect the even ones and then the odd ones, you get an X, which represents a kiss. So be ready to connect the dots in a different fashion.

Propeller Blades

In March 2021, Shirley talked about avoiding propeller blades which are decisions that lead nowhere and are guaranteed to lower one’s energy, impact wellbeing and cause painful emotions. Things like looking up old flames or old bosses.

From the Shared Wisdom of Our Community

  • Meditators suggested these types of actions can be from growing up in a dysfunctional family and developing the need to stay safe. By connecting the dots, one looks ahead and connects everything together. The key is to stay in in the present.

  • Someone said “I can only do what is in front of me”. This is a good affirmation to post on my mirrors and walls.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • My mind was racing throughout this reading. I remember distinctly when we’ve talked about connecting the dots. It’s been my life. I was a professional researcher and when I’m writing, I always prefer taking more notes to master the material instead of carpe diem, seize the day, and living in the moment. I think I have my assignment going forward.

  • Thank you. That was a volume of things to think about. I had many visuals during the meditation. Instead of focusing on the dots which represent events, we can look at the space between the dots. That’s where we can breathe and get the ego out of the way. I thought about the printed letter “i” with a dot on it which is the ego. I thought of each dot, each event, as a tiny clump of fertilizer. If we let an event drop down and be a fertilizer, then if we connect the dots and force them into a circle, it becomes a circle of life. And each one of those events will be the fertile ground for deeper understanding of how events do or don’t connect. We can choose how we connect them or we can force them into a circle of life that is made up of all the arcs of life. When we do that, we’re only looking at those events that have fertilized our lives, be they happy or sad ones. But we’ve got the ego out of the way so that it can help us realize that it all contributes to our growth. It’s all fertilizing the circle of life, which is each one of us. This group has been so much a fertilizer. The probability of any one thing happening in the exact pattern is probably zero. Events will change, this group will change. But whatever it changes into is also going to be a fertilizer for our lives and it will be part of the circle of who we are.

    • Thea says: So beautiful. Thank you. I appreciate what you said. It reminds me of the idea of the pearls. Looking for the fertilizer, looking for the pearls. That’s a whole reflection right there.

  • Thank you one and all for everything I’ve heard this morning. My first thought with the dots was to pull out whatever dot I’m in and look at it from a higher perspective what that dot can expand into in a bigger picture. Yesterday, I had some interactions at church that left me feeling some judgments and confusion. As I walked away, I had a choice between two paths. I opted for the less direct path, thinking I was doing it for avoidance. But I met up the church gardener and wound up helping him support some calla lilies. He carries this phenomenal cheerfulness. It was a pure gift to me to encounter him. My bigger perspective from that experience is love is bigger than any one event or moment.

    • Thea says: And when we open ourselves up to expectancy and are centered and place ourselves one foot in front of the other, we can do tremendous service. Thank you for that.

  • I’m reminded of a type of artwork called pointillism. Seurat made paintings with points of paint and light. All the points connect, and when you step back, you see a wonderful image. But it’s just dots.

  • Thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for exploring connecting the dots with me. I hope you spend your day not connecting the dots but being present in your life, present in the moment, present with your Higher Self, present in your breath, present in your expectancy. And use whatever tools you have and become aware of the tools you use in order to keep yourself in the present and not your wild what-ifs and craziness of your story. Thank you so much for being here today. I hope you all have a gentle and blessed day.

Photo credit: YAYOI KUSAMA: Exhibition in Tokyo - Yayoi Kusama Museum 2017

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