Step 1 on the way to calming the heck down (the one everyone skips)
Whenever you’re flipping out or just having a bit of a “moment”, the tendency is to jump in right away and search for the way out. And when you don’t find it, you feel more annoyed, more frustrated, more helpless. It happens even to those of us who have been working on these issues for years.
You want to fix the situation so you can feel better. And maybe part of you also feels guilty about the fact that you’re even having a freak-out. Or angry about not being in control. And that’s when all the shoulds start showing up:
“I should be able to handle this. It’s not even such a big deal.”
“I should know better.”
“I should be able to just snap out of this already. What’s *wrong* with me?!”
And it’s all because you’ve skipped the most important step, which is meeting yourself where you are.
Meeting yourself where you are means that you stop and say to yourself:
“You know what? Where I am, right now, is in this freak-out moment. The freak-out is temporary, of course, and it doesn’t define me, but it’s happening. This is what is going on for me right now. I’m allowed to be here.”
When you’ve recognized and acknowledged that you are in the middle of the meltdown, take a second to be there. Remind yourself that you are allowed to be feeling whatever it is you’re feeling.
You don’t have to fix anything yet.
Grumble, stooopid paradox, grumble grumble
I know, it’s pretty counter-intuitive. And probably kind of annoying, given that you understandably want to get out of the moment as soon as possible.
However, consciously acknowledging what’s going on without trying to bulldoze through it is the key to being able to let it go. If you skip this step, it’s just too easy to start fighting with yourself and forcing things on yourself. You’re in a state of resistance. And when you’re in resistance, techniques and advice are seeds that just can’t grow.
I teach all kinds of calming techniques that you’ve probably never heard of: bits of acupressure magic, little-known yoga secrets, unconventional cognitive tools, advanced self-talk techniques, plus a whole set of very powerful perception and meditation exercises. And with every single technique, it’s vital to start with the concept of meeting yourself where you are.
None of these techniques works in a vacuum. In fact, every one of them is based on the idea that we’re not trying to change the situation; it’s about helping you be in the situation. Once you’re there, you can use the techniques to their full effect and enjoy the results.
Don’t make me stop and smell any roses, goshdarnit!
A lot of times when we get stuck and try to cheer ourselves up, we fall back on the same useless, irritating phrases that other people use on us (they do mean well, but somehow don’t remember that this kind of thing doesn’t actually work).
Why do these phrases get on my nerves?
“Oh, don’t cry.”
“It’s not that bad, don’t feel bad.”
“Come on, you need to pull yourself together and snap out of it.”
“You’re bigger than that.”
“You know, in ten years you won’t even remember this.”
“Look on the bright side.”
You probably felt it as you read them; all of these phrases create resistance.
And they do this because they don’t meet you where you’re at right now. They’re trying to yank you right past your “stuck”… but “stuck” doesn’t work that way. If you are feeling sad, frustrated, hurt, fearful, upset, angry or resentful, these emotions are trying to tell you something. Instead of finding out what that thing is so you can give yourself comfort, these phrases act to suppress them. Your feelings are being told that they don’t have a right to exist.
It’s not until you give your feelings acknowledgment and legitimacy that you’re ready to move forward — to use helpful techniques, to interact with good advice, to take positive action.
The real work is getting there. Sure, silver linings abound, but you have to experience the cloud first. When life gives you lemons, you’re allowed to feel sad, frustrated and annoyed before you decide to squeeze them on your salad, plant the seeds in your yard, or ask your friend’s mother for her iced tea recipe.
Before you ask “what can I do with what these cards I’ve been dealt?”, feel what you are feeling. Once you allow yourself to be where you are, you’ll be able to start taking steps towards someplace better. And yay! Because that’s huge.
I think this might be one of the best and most useful posts ever written on the internet, or possibly anywhere. And I mean that quite seriously, too. No smoke-blowing here.
I’ve read an awful lot of blogs about various things, and a great deal more books. The best were Pema Chodron’s. She even has a book called “Start where you are”, and gets at the same ideas. Yet although her books are always very gentle and reassuring, somehow they don’t sink in deeply. It might be because it’s very high-flown and Buddhisty in places, designed for the hardcore people who meditate 24 hours a day with their ankles wrapped round their ears.
What I love about this is that it’s much more practical and down to earth. And immediate.
Sometimes we need permission not to go running after the solution, but to just be in the freak out. I remembered this last night during a session with the inner goblins and today I feel a thousand times better.
Thank you, always.
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