Ever have a dream dashed? Ever put your entire soul into something, be it a relationship or investment or idea, and lose it?
Ever feel conviction and commitment in your bones, heart and soul only for life to go in a completely contrary direction? Do you know how it feels to lose faith, to be consumed by self-defeating thoughts?
Is it in your nervous system? Do random and seemingly unconnected and trivial events trigger deep fear, anxiety and cause the body to shake, breath to catch, voice to raise? Ever been abandoned, have your heart shattered by grief?
How does a person find the calm in the midst of emotional and mental spinning?
People say comforting things. Their well-intention attempts often communicate their discomfort and lack of understanding. Only a person who is serene with the shadow-sides of life can be present and offer gentle wisdom. What works?
How many people feel, act and embody such grace?
How does someone become such a person, for their own self?
The basis of emotional security, health and healing remains in the nervous system.
When a person shakes from PTSD (Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder), anxiety, and fear, those are nervous system responses. It’s akin to computer programming, except it’s in the nervous system and brain.
A natural reaction to those kinds of emotional reactions and triggers is self-negation. Anger, shame, blame and guilt for simply being human, for having gone through an unasked for experience, and not knowing how to work with it.
Thinking about the past, dwelling on it, over-analyzing, and worrying are fuel that reinforce a self-destructive pattern.
There are simple steps to spiral upward and feel emotionally secure, even when lost in an emotional wilderness.
1. Observe and learn.
The Art of War, a book of military philosophy, advocates knowledge as the key ingredient to winning a war.
Anxiety is an internal struggle, akin to warfare. It is a war one did not choose, the influence of a trauma or shock remains present even though one wishes it gone with all one’s heart. It’s a war that needs to be resolved.
Knowledge is key. Except, this is not mind knowledge.
It is the non-verbal knowledge of self-awareness.
Forget about expending months and years of life to understanding the past. Set aside efforts to comprehend why people do what they do, how they show up, why they say one thing and do another. Understanding offers limited aid, such precious time can also be applied to self-knowledge and liberation.
Dwelling on the past reinforces the patterns responsible for creating anxiety. The mind fuels the fire through overthinking. Understanding and resolving it is a necessary part of the process. It is unavoidable. And it is a choice.
Validating the feelings, experiencing the visceral responses in the body, and understanding oneself are effective methods for being secure.
Learn how to observe the thoughts and connect with the breathing.
Feel the face calm. Feel the shoulders relax. Feel the breath slow. Feel the heartbeat. And observe the thoughts, feelings and emotions. Recognize how the body responds. Discover how anxiety in the body can be alleviated, regardless of the story happening in the mind and nervous system.
Conscious, deliberate breathing is critical for self-knowledge and being calm in the midst of tension.
In the moment, the body is experiencing the original trauma, to a greater or lesser degree.
This demands being present, as it happens, and relaxing in the middle of the experience as it unfolds.
By allowing the breath to relax, one becomes aware of the body. Allow the body to relax. Bypass the story. Feel the heartbeat, allow the body to be at rest.
2. Be accepting and non-judgmental.
Having spaciousness to integrate past experiences asks a person to allow themselves to be at peace, regardless. It doesn’t matter what has happened. If one wishes to feel centered and let go of the past, action is demanded.
One must breathe deeper, and let go.
Forgiveness is a spiritual tool able to liberate oneself from internal contortions used to protect from future harm. Before a shocking event happened, one operated differently, hopefully naturally.
The influence has happened. A person changes from life events. Who one is in the aftermath is to be discovered.
Does a person insult a baby who is learning to talk or walk?
Why insult oneself when integrating and healing?
And even when a person inevitably does it, another opportunity to be self-forgiving and gracious is presented.
It’s a new life. Conscious choices are building blocks for creating a heart fulfilling life. Consciously choosing to allow the body to relax, to feel expansiveness in the body translates into emotional expansiveness and self-knowledge.
3. Recognize Your Value.
From the inception of time, from the first thing that wiggled, squirted, scooted or existed, here exists a person reading these words, now.
Who is not the descendant of a lineage of unfathomable time? How many ancestors have struggled, fought, loved and moved forward allowing this life to exist now?
The physical body created of periodic elements was first born in the womb of a star. How many eons did it take for stars to form, to explode, and spread dust across the galaxy. Dust converted into our physical bodies through a mystery of physics and time.
There is a force of nature invigorating and empowering the body, keeping the universe spinning, and heartbeat pulsing.
It’s within each of us, and with it, a new day.
This new moment, where a person can see and recognize their value, to be humble in the presence of infinite mystery, and allow the body and nervous system to be at rest.
The stories in the mind will pass.
Who is not a child of creation? Who isn’t worthy of love?
Why does it become so difficult to be loving to oneself when life breaks?
Does an answer matter when the only thing a heart yearns for is to be whole, and needs actionable solutions?
4. Be loving to oneself.
In little ways, at first. Recognizing what is important, identifying the actions, foods and aspects to life and doing those things. When failing and falling down, getting back up and continuing. Making adjustments, and ceasing any self-negating emotions or thoughts.
By breathing in the moment, observing thoughts and allowing them to pass, feeling the body relax.
Believe, and follow through. These are small adjustments. Transformation demands time. The small steps become an incredible journey.
Appreciate the small adjustments, changes and transformations. Those are the sign-posts unveiling a new life.
Recognizing, validating and appreciating the aspects of life one wishes to live, will cultivate those experiences.
More and more, emotional security and stability becomes available.
One has learned to walk, again.
Author: Keith Artisan
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Ignacio Garcia/Flickr