I have anxiety.
We could talk about why I have (and have had for as long as I can remember) an anxious brain but that would be too time consuming… right now.
I’ve done a lot of work on learning to manage my emotions.
I’ve done all the things. I’ve had some great results.
I was feeling pretty good, pretty consistent over time. And then this damn pandemic rocked my (and everyone else’s) world.
Even though I was saying all the “right” things to clients, family, friends even myself … I was feeling something entirely different.
I know when my window of tolerance is small, it’s easier to fall into old, unhealthy automatic thought patterns & habits … yet I still did it! I froze.
I went through the motions for weeks while being very disconnected from my automatic thoughts. I was running on autopilot desperately trying to prove to myself I wasn’t. My automatic thought was, I’m a professional, I “should” be able to keep my shit together to best serve my clients.
It’s my duty to remain calm, anxiety free etc.
These thoughts are so unhelpful. BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT WORKS and it’s not that.
What works is allowing the uncomfortable feeling of fear & anxiety to surface without stuffing it down with judgement, food, (alcohol, cigarettes, sex, gambling …).
As soon as I gave myself permission to feel the feelings, they passed through me, allowing me to do the things that keep my window of tolerance nice & big (for me it looks like: mediation, exercise, rest, comfort food, humour, distraction).
When I get stuck in judgement of my feelings, they get bigger & bigger until I feel them physically.
Ugh, it’s such a yucky feeling.
To be unconsciously running from the worst thoughts of yourself.
I want to be clear.
Whatever you need to do to get through this challenging time is good enough!
The people out there in the social media world are sending out all sorts of messages.
No shame no guilt allowed.
The only thing we need to do right now is manage our emotions the best we can. That’s it!
- We don’t need to be productive right now
- We don’t need to learn an instrument
- We don’t need to learn a new language
- We don’t need to rock that side hustle
- We don’t need to be homeschooling
We don’t need to be doing anything that adds stress to our lives right now.
Managing our emotions is a full-time job.
If you’re doing any or all of the above mentioned. Good for you. My only hope is you’re doing it because you want to not because you think you “should”.
Don’t run from, or stuff down the thoughts. Throw them on the table & sift through them.
I’ve included a quick prompt to help identify your automatic thoughts (one at a time) and process the feeling.
A quick prompt to help Identify thoughts & feelings:
1) What’s bothering me?
2) I feel (anger, sadness, shame, fearful)
3) The story I’m telling myself is
4) The truth is
5) What I need right now is
6) I will take care of my need by
7) My positive affirmation for today is