This past weekend, I experienced a juxtaposition of emotions. I had some friends in town and had a weekend full of social experiences that filled my cup. But I also felt short of breath and on the verge of a panic attack behind the scenes.
Do you ever find fear creeping up so hard that even your savviest tricks are no match for its malicious attempts to foil your serenity?
For some reason, unbeknownst to me, my inner child was especially precocious, throwing tantrum after tantrum inside my mind. I’ve acquired effective behavioral tools for this type of thing, so I called upon them to calm my anxiety and get me through the social interactions. I was able to let it go enough to have a nice time.
Yesterday, I slept in and took the day to recover and recharge. And all day, these fears were taking over my thoughts. I actively reframed my outlook, repeated mantras, and visualized my ideal reality. I focused on my breath. I voiced my gratitudes. And yet, the pit in my stomach was still very much there.
What am I afraid of? My fears include not being able to sustain my success, going bankrupt, being attacked in the night (I watched Unbelievable on Netflix yesterday, so you better believe I locked all my windows last night!), that I’m unlovable, that I have a terminal illness, being a disappointment as my life legacy… the list goes on.
Now, let me be clear that I KNOW these fears aren’t my reality, but that doesn’t make them FEEL any less real.
Feelings are not facts.
As one of my coaching mentors often says, “Feelings are not facts.”
I allowed myself to sit with this statement last night. I gave myself permission to feel the feelings. I acknowledged them and thanked my inner child (her name is Petunia, btw) for getting my attention and trying to protect me from these scary potential outcomes. I then reassured Petunia that we are older and wiser now, and experience has taught us that we will get through this and there is no need to panic. I asked her to go have a seat and relax.
I’m constantly amazed by the effectiveness of such simple exercises. The act of giving your internal fears a separate physical place to live—that you name—instantly allows you to detach those fears from your being and release them to the universe. They become no longer yours to carry. And I find that talking to my inner child, Petunia, welcomes in a level of love, kindness, patience and empathy that I don’t always have for myself. It affords me the grace I’m not always able to give myself.
This morning my client told me that her close friend talks to her chronic pain in this very same way. It has a name. She asks him what’s up, why he’s here, what she can do for him, and she asks him to give her a break.
I wanted to share this with you as a tool that you can use as you move through your own fears, pain, and false beliefs. You may choose to name your inner gremlin instead of your inner child. You may choose to name your pain. Whatever visual or moniker works for you is fine. You simply have to separate it from the self and give it its own identity.
Name it. Talk to it. Forgive it. Thank it. Love it. Release it.
Keep going. I see you.
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