I used to wake from a dead sleep, crawl out of bed and slog into my closet to ensure my shoes were properly lined up.
I once declined joining my family for a beach day because I “needed” to clean the stove.
In fifth grade, I cried when I received a B in math.
The fruitless pursuit of perfection used to devour my joy. My tunnel vision only allowed me to view the imperfect minute details that needed tweaking, while real life lived outside that tunnel.
I experienced blips of relief when everything was “in its place,” but these moments were fleeting and were quickly wiped away by a new email flush with to-dos, a small human walking into my home and living life, or the general passage of time.
It seems our minds have developed an unfortunate dependency on worry. In the blips of time when “everything is under control,” the mind kicks into overdrive, determined to find a problem to latch onto, a problem to worry about.
Then, the pellets of doubt begin to drop and we are eventually drowned in an all-consuming flood of ‘what-ifs?’
It’s frightening how easy it is for me to put a negative spin on the positive. My brain has a lifetime of wiring supporting the perpetuation of worry.
What gives? Why the ceaseless pounding of doubt and fear?
As a Hypnotherapist, and chronic worrier, I’ve discovered a common root to this conundrum- the inner critic, the voice of incessant chatter that feeds off of problems, real or perceived.
I call my voice Sheila, and she is quite unpleasant.
After years of allowing her volume to grow to a nauseating magnitude, and witnessing the same phenomenon in clients, I decided that something had to give. There were voices that needed to be silenced, or at least significantly minimized.
The following release work has supported myself, and many others, in turning the voices of our motley inner crew down from 10 to ‘Shh…’
Mindful Breathing– The rhythmic patter of steady breath offers a productive replacement to the, “No you can’t, not good enough, what if, I think you’re wrong, just give up.”
It’s difficult to live in a state of chaos when our body is checking into its healing room, via breath work.
Try it- take five deep breaths, inhaling to a slow count of 5, holding for 3, and exhaling to a slow count of 5.
Allow the body to sink deeper into the inner healing room with each breath.
Tapping- We have an electrical system running through our body via channels called meridians. When we have a negative thought our electrical system is disrupted.
Each of the meridians has an end point, and we can release the negative energy by tapping on these points. While tapping, we verbally state the negative followed by our positive preference.
For example, “Even though I am sad my boyfriend broke up with me, I know I am wonderful and worthy of love.”
While repeating the statement, tap 5-7 times in the following locations:
In between the eyebrows.
On the temples.
Underneath the eyes.
On the upper lip.
Below the lower lip.
On the collarbone.
Repeat this round three times.
Write out the worry and rip it up- It is profoundly cathartic to physically destroy a piece of negativity.
Write down your worry, regret, fear, anger, or other variety of negativity on a scrap of paper and rip it up into minuscule shreds, or burn it- I prefer the later.
Self Hypnosis– There are vibrant worlds of possibility waiting to be sparked in the mind, and manifested in our reality. When this occurs, there’s no space left for that jerky inner critic.
Honor time by taking a few moments of focused stillness to tap into these flames of positive manifestation and allow them to thrive.
Let’s take the first step into this voyage. After taking your five breathes, allow the vibrations of relaxation to flow through you, flushing out the muck of worry that has latched on to your being.
Begin to envision your thoughts as clouds passing through the sky of your mind. You can view these clouds with a clear perspective, but are not intertwined in them- you’re just observing them with curiosity.
You don’t feel, absorb, or analyze the clouds- you just allow them to float by.
The dark clouds do not stay to rain down worry, they pass just as quickly as the others- they don’t touch you.
When you’ve separated from these clouds, feel yourself drifting deeper within, to your inner sanctuary.
Do a song and dance routine- Sometimes we need to stop taking our problems, other people’s opinions, and ourselves so seriously. The best way to do this is act like a fool in love with life.
After you’ve moved through the fore mentioned release techniques stick that cherry on top by playing your jam and dancing like a fiend.
We’re able to invest as much, or as little, time as we like to this release work, the time does not matter, it’s the intention that holds the power.
When we first begin our practice the voice may follow us for a bit, questioning the state of comfort that we’re floating in. But, the voice will eventually lose its luster, relinquishing its dominance to our true essence, residing in our core- the true essence that is composed of all that is good in the world, and all the wonder that is waiting to bloom into existence.
Have you ever felt, at the end of a long, exhausting, and non-stop day that you accomplished nothing? Like you never stopped moving but have nothing to show for it? No sense of accomplishment? No warm and fuzzy ‘I’m such a great parent’ aura? No fat paycheck? Nothing but frazzled hair, brain, and body?
I’m embarrassed to admit, that until recently, I didn’t know that there were people who didn’t end every day feeling that way. Say what? I can end the day feeling happy, accomplished, energized, and only somewhat frazzled-haired? Tell me more.
After examining the pattern of my days I noticed that I rarely finished anything in one go, even diaper changes. Yes, unfinished diaper changes get messy. I would start a project, task, workout, meal, or bathroom visit, and would quickly be interrupted by a lovely baby, phone call, remembrance of another “more important” task, or something of that nature, and would shift gears, leaving the last activity half completed, and leaving half my mind with that activity, while moving on to the next. Starting to get a whiff of why I always ended my days be-frazzled?
Even though we think we can effectively multi-task, and do two million and five things at once, our mind can really only focus on one thing at a time. So, if the mind is thinking about the directions to the doctor’s office, and the hands are working to wipe poop off a wiggling child’s everything, something has got to give.
One thing my mind was able to hold on to, regardless of what it might be thinking, was guilt. I felt guilty for the task I had left behind, I felt guilty for not being completely present for the task I was currently doing, and I felt guilt for feeling guilty. A fraction of my guilt stemmed from mistakenly labeling myself as a ‘P’ word (a procrastinator.)
During further examination of my patterns, I realized that I was not actually a ‘P’ word, but a ‘W’ word, (a waffler.) I was easily swayed by what others thought I should be doing, and couldn’t make up my own mind regarding what was actually important for me; and because I’m the mother of a small child, I also had to consider what was important for him.
Solution? Okey dokey; I decided that I needed to start putting my phone on silent, saying ‘no’ when necessary, and forgiving myself for putting off tasks when it was in the name of spending time with my kiddo. In addition to those action steps, I also needed some metaphysical solutions in there, which came in the form of being present. Really really really being present in each activity I was partaking in. If I was writing, I was writing. If I needed to stop writing and shake the sillies out with my son, I was no longer thinking about writing, I was shaking my sillies out. When my son then occupied himself with something else, I could then shift my focus back to writing, because that was the main task of importance I had identified for the day, besides chillin’ with my mini homie of course. Guess what happened at the end of those days? I felt fulfilled! I felt accomplished! I had put aside phone calls, laundry, and other important tasks that I would get to tomorrow (on their set day,) but today I wrote, and played with my run-ddler (a toddler that runs.) Sticking to the tasks that I had identified as important was so empowering, it helped me remember that I am indeed the master of my own universe, regardless of how badly I occasionally want to pass on that responsibility to someone else.
If you, like myself, have grown tired of un-bedazzled frazzled days, try out these action steps, sprinkled with some metaphysical:
–Be Present. In whatever activity you’re engaged in, practice being present, being completely mindful of what you’re doing. I say ‘practice’ because this does not come easily (at least not for me!) it takes conscious intention to make mindfulness and being present a subconscious natural part of your experiences, every last one of them. When you’re in this activity, leave the other one behind; write it down on your special list if you need to, but leave it behind, you’ll come back to it, it will get done, but this is what you’re doing, right now.
–Forgive yourself. If you occasionally find yourself having to start-stop-stop-start something important, that’s okay. You’re not weak, uncommitted, or lazy, you’re human. As long as you can recommit and refocus yourself when the time is right, you’re doing great. It’s never a bad time to tickle your kiddo, kiss your partner, or hug your mom; the laundry can wait.
–Listen. Listen to yourself, your child, the person on the phone, the breeze in the trees, the persistent woodpecker sculpting your yard, listen. I’ve recently learned to listen and it’s been quite wonderful, less pressure on me to come up with something interesting to say, and more connection and respect with the speaker (or sound maker) whom I’m listening to. It’s near impossible to not be present when you’re actively listening, take a load off and listen.
-Give Thanks. Appropriately, I’m writing this on Thanksgiving! What a perfect day to marinate on the value of giving thanks to and for everything and everyone, yes everything and everyone. Even the perceived muck that we inevitably deal with, usually on a regular basis, has a purpose (and not just the purpose of pissing us off.) Time spent honestly reflecting on past “mucky experiences” usually reveals a valuable lesson, or subsequent amazing outcome from the seemingly mucky muck. Add gratitude to your present moments, say thank you for the poop in your baby diapers, if they weren’t pooing, you’d have problems. Give thanks for the missed job opportunity, a better one is coming. Give thanks for the espresso maker that exploded coffee grounds all over your kitchen (ceiling included,) your kitchen will never be cleaner after the one hour clean up. True story. Adding active thankfulness to your tool belt of conscious turned subconscious daily states of being, you will notice a shift from worry, to being, well happy, and isn’t that what it’s all about?