As above, so below, as within, so without - every thing that we desire, and every thing that we fear, exists within us. This blog explores nourishing our dreams, committing to our highest values, and healing ourselves from the inside out: awakening and empowering the Goddess within our bodies, hearts, and lives.
Keeping Calm v. Carrying On
The other day I was gifted with the opportunity to practice what I preach.
I received a shock that left me hurt, angry, and more than a bit anxious. My tummy churned, my breathing became shallow, and I slipped into negative thinking – angry thoughts towards myself and others, fearful thoughts about finances, dark humor.
I could have lashed out with my anger, told off the person who upset me. I could have carried on, ranting to every one who would listen about how unfair it was, throwing a temper tantrum. But that's not my style. (Not anymore, anyway...)
I recognized that feeling angry, hurt, and anxious wasn’t helping anything. One of my mantras lately is: “Everything is easier when you feel good.” I recognize that everything is harder when I feel bad, and that feeling bad programs my brain to seek out more stuff to feel bad about.
So, in the midst of my anxious spiral, I caught myself and asked, “What do I need to feel better right now?”
In that moment, I was babysitting two toddlers, the older of whom was fighting with my preschooler. All three boys were crying loudly, the older toddler hitting and kicking me. So my first goal was to simply keep my cool. My second goal was to calm down each child and connect with each, which meant shifting my focus from my own needs to meet theirs without losing my temper and making things worse for all of us.
It wasn’t until 2 hours later, on my drive home, that I had the space to really assess my own needs. I was proud of myself for keeping my cool despite my inner turmoil, but that wasn’t enough to get me smiling.
I needed to get myself laughing. Laughter would send endorphins through my system, chemically uplifting my mood. Laughter would help me expel the anxious and angry energy, and help me heal the hurt.
I couldn’t watch funny videos, search for funny images, or read funny blogs or books since I was driving, so I tried to bring up some memories of things that always make me smile. That got me smiling. Then I started fantasizing, creating entertainment in my mind’s eye, but my fantasies were tending toward vengeance and drama, so I switched to singing along with the radio, diverting my attention to other things whenever the negative thoughts cropped back up.
Finally, I spent the evening watching Doctor Who with my best friend, and went to sleep knowing I’d feel better when I awoke.
Sleep and laughter did their job. My stomach was still a little churny the following day, but I could breathe deeply. My thoughts tended towards plans and goals rather than fears and anger. Sitting outside in the gorgeous Florida weather also helped. The bad feelings were still noticeable, but so much weaker. The good feelings I’d been consciously cultivating were much stronger and about ready to bloom.
How different, how much better, did I respond to this conflict than I had a year previously! In January 2013 when someone I loved and trusted treated me badly, I lost my temper and burned bridges. I don’t regret it, because the toll on that particular bridge was too high, but I would much rather consciously choose to burn a bridge than to do so reactively, out of pain and anger.
This is what I’ve learned:
Fear makes me want to isolate myself, keep quiet, and fall into old patterns. It comes from my animal brain, the part concerned with self-preservation, and it is not reasonable. Understanding why I should not be afraid is not enough to neutralize fear. Fear is an emotion that results from being separated from people, behaviors, and things that make me feel safe and loved.
To heal fear, I need to make myself feel safe, happy, and loved. Because my brain responds to my thoughts, memories, and fantasies the same way it responds to my physical reality, I can use memories, fantasies, affirmations, and consciously changing things in my physical reality to heal myself and change my life.
What is stressing you out right now?
What do you need to feel safe, happy, and loved?
How can you give that to yourself?
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