When you’re “in it” it’s really flippin’ hard to see that there’s a way out of it. Your mind is a tornado of thoughts, none of which are productive at all. Your problems become unsolvable. Your future seems bleak. (Otto Titsling) It’s the best you can do to muddle through your day until this dark cloud finally passes.
You can try to tell yourself that you’ve got to start thinking differently if you ever want to feel normal again. But, it’s damn near impossible to get through to you. The you, that is, who knows what you “should” be doing and thinking, but can’t seem to get out of the tailspin long enough to do anything about it.
Girl, I feel you. I wish we didn’t have to go through this, but here we are. I’m here to offer you five ways to slam on the brakes and reroute that fear train before it takes you any closer to the edge. Stop now, whatever you’re doing, and breathe.
Notice: What does it feel like to be in this state? Are you really worried? Are you regretful or angry? What do these emotions feel like in your body. Name the sensations. Tingling? Heaviness? Tension? Where do the sensations reside? In the pit of your stomach? In your shoulders? Behind your eyes? Whatever it is, wherever it is, name it, acknowledge it. Tension in my shoulders. Tingling in my chest. Pressure behind my eyes. Breathe and feel it. Allow it to be. Then notice what happens when you approach your mind and body with this attitude? Does the tension decrease, even a little?
Dive in: Go in there, get close to the feeling or sensation…examine it. Does it have a shape or a form? Is it dark and craggy? Is it smooth and shiny? Can you imagine it moving or is it fixed in that place? Can you offer yourself comfort around it and just let it be?
Inquire: What does this sensation and associated object represent for you? Listen to your gut for the answer. Don’t think too hard. Is it sadness or burden? Is it hopelessness or loneliness? Again, acknowledge what you’re feeling. Then ask yourself what you need. Do you need to relinquish some responsibility? Do you need to ask someone for help? Do you need to connect with a friend who is truly there for you? This is essential: Underneath the discomfort there is an unmet need. What do you need?
Get yours: Probably the hardest step. Asking for what you need. This is a loaded proposition and one we’ll cover in more depth at a later date. But for now, take some time to think about how you will go about requesting what you need. Reason it through and put some thought behind it so it comes out clearly. It’s amazing how often we don’t say what we mean. Be straightforward and explain why you need it. Believe you deserve to receive what you need. And in the process, remember why is it important. One reason might be because you’re hell-bent on getting out of the state of distress!
Arm yourself for next time: When we’re in the thick of it, it’s near impossible to remember the tools we have at our disposal. It’s harder still to rely on and trust the innate wisdom we have that clues us in to what we can do to offer ourselves some peace. So, ask yourself what you will do when you’re triggered to remember that you don’t have to go down with the ship. Routine helps with this. If you sign up for my mailing list, you get a series of meditations that arm you with a routine that will help you stay out of the red zone of anxiety. Once you begin to figure out what works for you, you can make a series of habits your non-negotiables, understanding that your well-being relies on them. For now, decide on your first go-to new habit — meditation, a walk around the block, a class at the gym — to get you out of your worried mind. Then start working these steps.
I want to know if you found this series of tips useful. Have you had occasion to put them into practice in your own life yet? How did it go? Did you remember you had these tools when the fury of your worried mind barreled down on you? Were you able to connect to a new way of thinking? How did it feel to ask for what you needed? Leave your feedback in the comments below.
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