We have ALL been there. You know it. That tormented place in your head where the worries and fears whirl around on the hot/rise cycle of the washing machine of your mind. You find yourself laying in bed at night, wide eyed and ruminating on that last conversation you had with your friend. Did you say something to offend her? Did you share too much of your opinion? Why hasn't she texted you back yet? Or maybe it is replaying the last awkward interaction with your coworker. Why don't they ever say goodbye at the end of the day? Maybe they don't like me, you think to yourself as you are driving home. Perhaps you are a busy mother (as if I needed to qualify mother with the word "busy" as if some of us are actually NOT busy? But I digress.....) who feels like a hamster in a wheel always chasing the dream of having it all "together" but never stops running around in circles. Frozen made trillions of dollars off of it, so why can't you seem to just Let. It. Go? (I dismiss an liability for now having that song stuck in your head)
Here is what I want you to do know. Here is what I want you to do my friends....
Get O.V.E..R. it!!
This is maybe the LAST thing you would expect to hear from a therapist, eh? How could I be so insensitive ?! The shame! When our perceptions about ourselves, others, our relationships,and situations becomes clouded with self-doubt, negativity, shame, and brain chatter our reality follows suit. Our filter of how we see the world can become really muddy. That mud tracks its messy footsteps all over our hearts, bodies, spirits and lives. Any nobody likes a muddy heart, do they?
OBSERVE: Literally stop yourself in your tracks. Notice your body language. Notice your posture. Notice the words that are buzzing around. Notice your breath. Notice what is around you. Don't try to change it (yet). Most likely you will be tense and your breathing will be shallow. Zoom out on yourself and notice what you observe. What are you witnessing taking place? This step is to help you get a pulse on what is happening in and around you. Knowledge is power. Get Empowered by Observing and Learning. We can't change what we don't know.
VALIDATE: Rate yourself on a scale of 0-10 (0= neutral, 10= I want to crawl out of my skin right now!). Validate and own it. Name it. Say the emotion, the body sensation and intensity out loud or write it down. "I am worried right now. I can feel it in my stomach. Right now it is a 10." Own it, but get it outside of your headspace so you can decide what you want to do with it. This is the purpose of saying it aloud or writing it down. Knock it off with the "should's" and "musts". Those belief systems to not exist to serve you. They are here to kick you when you are down. And you are not about staying down.
EMPOWER: "Move a muscle, Change a Thought" is one of my mantras. To get out of your head, you must get into your body. Empowerment is all about movement and taking back your power. When your mind is taking over, reclaim it by connecting with your body. Go for a walk. Do a few jumping jacks or toe touches (side note: This is a form of Bilateral Stimulation for the brain, which is a scientifically proven way of reducing anxiety and stress), pet your dog, get a cold glass of water, go to another room, stretch.
RE-ASSES and RECOVER: Ask yourself, does this thought/behavior/worry/belief nourish me or deplete me? Is this self-preservation or self-destruction? Rate yourself again. If you are not lower than when you started then rinse and repeat until your level drops down to a tolerable level.
I suggest writing some of these key components of O.V.E.R. on a index card or keeping it as a note in your phone to refer to when the present moment feels like its caving in on you. Remember that most of us highly underestimate our ability to cope. We do not need to believe everything that we think and feel. You can tolerate discomfort and reshape it. You got this.
Erica is a psychotherapist and wellness coach in private practice located in Southington, CT specializing in trauma-recovery and self-empowerment. She offers individual and group psychotherapy,consultation, workshops and seminars. Contact Erica at (860) 266-6098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.