Three steps to move from anxiousness or despair into grateful, grounded and empowered.
Our feelings are our Inner GPS system. Our feelings can guide us toward lives of meaning and purpose, satisfaction and joy. If we are experiencing anxiousness or despair, it’s because we are not present in this moment, are unaware of our thoughts, or don’t realize we can choose what we think.
If you tend toward anxiousness or despair, here are some tips that can support you to successfully navigate these emotions, especially during what some anticipate will be one of the darkest winters in history, the winter of 2020.
Become aware of your current thought
What are the stories you are telling yourself? Are you aware of what they are and how they are affecting you? Do you spend time alone each day? If so, do you listen to music during that time? Or are you someone who plays your TV from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to bed each night? Do you numb yourself with food, alcohol, exercise, shopping or work? If so, you might not be aware of what stories you are telling yourself.
How we become aware of what we are telling ourselves is not as important as that we acknowledge these stories, or beliefs. We can employ meditation, journaling, empathy or some other method to become aware of our thoughts. It’s important to notice what we are saying to ourselves because our thoughts generate our feelings. And our feelings matter because they create the experiences we have in our lives.
Research has documented that 80% of the thoughts we think are the same from one day to the next, throughout our entire lives. I believe this is because we are not aware of our thoughts. Listening to our thoughts, gives us choice about what we think. After all, how can you change something if you are not even aware it exists?
When you are feeling anxious or despairing, stop. Notice what you are telling yourself. There is a thought that is creating these feelings. What is it? Anxiousness usually comes from thoughts about the future that scare us. Feelings of despair or hopelessness usually come from thoughts is about something that happened in the past. These are clues to uncovering your unconscious thoughts and I encourage you to excavate these thoughts. Don’t take my word for it, explore and discover it for yourself! Diving inward can be scary. If fear comes up for you, I’d be glad to hold your hand while you explore and discover. You don’t have to excavate your thoughts by yourself. And it doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. You can set yourself free in a morning, an afternoon, or an evening.
Our stories create our lives
In the exercise, we were instructed to lean into another person with our full weight, as they leaned back toward us, seeing if we trusted them to support us. I reluctantly created a triangle by leaning in, until the man I was partnered with pointed out my reluctance. I was both shocked and grateful for his honesty and for bringing this to my attention.
After that exercise I decided that it was safe for me to join “puppy piles”, snuggle with others and allow myself to be held. Before this exercise, I had thought those activities were for others but not for me. I realized that, in fact, I was not “too big” to be touched. I shifted my story from being “too big” and allowed myself to surrender to others. I started to trust others to support the weight of my body. This has increased my ability to be intimate in many ways.
Choose a different story
I consciously chose to surrender to, and to trust, this man to support the weight of my body. After making this decision that it was safe for me to explore new ways to being touched, I experienced being comfortable while being held. I also experienced mutual emotional support in my relationships, which I had not experienced before making this decision. Being aware of, and then choosing to shift, my thinking changed my experience of physical intimacy and increased my options for intimacy, both physically and emotionally.
I hope you are empowered by this sort of thinking. It has certainly empowered me. I’ve discovered, on more than one occasion, a thought that surprised me. I’ve noticed how some thoughts have resulted in frustration and how the frustration was a direct result of those thoughts. Becoming aware of the story that is operating subconsciously, and deciding to choose different thoughts, has allowed me to have different experiences and has changed my feelings immediately.
Just as the fish are the last to know they are swimming in water, we may be the last to discover the thoughts that are creating our experiences. I didn’t see the belief that I was “too big to be held” until someone else questioned me about my reluctance. “ Unpacking”, or exploring what is going on at a deeper level, can reveal the thoughts that are creating our feelings, which are creating our experiences.
Celebrate new feelings and new experiences
Celebrating, or expressing gratitude for our new experiences, actually re-wires our brain and nervous system. This re-wiring further supports new experiences. “Neurons that fire together, wire together” is an expression that neurologists use to describe this phenomenon. Celebrating also fuels us, especially when times are tough, and we become more resilient as a result. Generating feelings of gratitude and appreciation, by celebrating our successes as they happen, can open our hearts. Opening our hearts, makes all sorts of things possible that would not otherwise be possible and opens doorways to infinite possibilities.
To summarize, 1) notice what is happening inside you in the present moment 2) choose a new thought, and 3) celebrate the feelings and experiences these new thoughts generate. These three steps can move you from anxiousness or despair into grateful, grounded and empowered.
If you tend toward anxiousness or despair and are concerned about your well-being as we move into winter 2020/21, come to “Anxious Or Blue: 3 Steps to Freedom Without Meds”. This webinar will empower you to maintain your well-being, no matter the circumstances: https://terrimoon.com/product/aord-webinar/
About the Author
Terri Moon, MS, founder of terrimoon.com, has been supporting people to transform their lives by unpacking and befriending their feelings for 15 years. Terri offers non-judgmental listening/empathy to individuals who value authentic and satisfying relationships, want to increase joy in their lives and who long to make a difference in the world.