How to see behind telling myself, "I'll be FINE"
When so much is happening in your life and everything is feeling like it’s out of control, one way to put this control back in your life is to have a little word with yourself. You tell yourself that everything will be fine.
But, this is a trap that you are setting up for yourself.
If I tell myself that everything will be fine then, of course, it must be. But, ignoring those parts of you that have something to say can soon build up and before you know it, you are suddenly feeling overwhelmed, confused, exhausted and getting very dizzy. With rushing around comes crashing down.
There is a little exercise I use with clients to help give a little bit of space to these parts of us and an opportunity to be heard and valued:
- Take your left hand and tap your left shoulder.
- As you tap it, speak out loud with the logical part of your brain - the part that likes to say “You’ll be fine”, whatever the situation.
- Now, tap your right shoulder - this is the part on how you feel.
- Give this part a chance as you gave the left shoulder plenty of time to speak. Ask yourself:
“How did that situation make you feel?”
“Where do I feel it in my body?”
Keep repeating this a couple of times - I would say three times each shoulder. Now we are beginning to strip back the layers of the situation. The logic part of you has been heard and, yes, you probably will bounce back; these things happen; you’re fine but we also have finally given a chance to that other part of you.
When you tapped your right shoulder and asked how you really felt about what’s going on in your life, you may have said:
“I wish it didn’t hurt so much.”
“I’m so angry it's churning me up inside.”
“I feel so lonely.”
“My chest hurts carrying this grief.”
The exercise is to give all parts of you a chance to be heard. The resilient part that springs into action and has so many resources to keep you busy can distract you and even tell you, you don’t have time to feel, you just have time to talk about what the problems are.
The tapping of the right shoulder is that moment of permission to acknowledge the emotion of the situation, how this is impacting on you psychically and that you have a right to feel this way.
Often, we feel that other people are in far worse situations than we are, and what right do we have to be worrying about our life? If your worries are impacting on how you psychically feel inside then taking time out to acknowledge this can sometimes be the equivalent of giving yourself a hug. If you are living day-in-day-out, ignoring how you are feeling, you start giving yourself emotional neglect.
If you were in a room with a close friend who was crying, would you ignore them? Tell them to hurry up? Or would you take a moment to reassure them, and ask how you could help? An action so simple can start to build a bridge between the tension inside oneself.
This exercise starts building a relationship between these parts of your logical self-rationalising that everything will be OK and the more complex part of yourself that tucks away your emotions to keep them safe. It’s a brave move to have the whole of you in the room but it’s a start to reducing anxiety and those feelings of being overwhelmed.
Knowledge is power, I discuss often with clients. Knowing how you think about a situation and how you feel about a situation begins to acknowledge the tension in your inner-world. This knowledge gives you the power to make healthy choices in life, that not only benefit other people but also you.
Tapping your left shoulder will give you lots of ideas on what you should do and how you should respond. But, tapping your right acknowledges that the situation is a little more complicated as there are emotions and feelings to also consider.