I can’t tell you the number of times in my life things haven’t worked out the way I thought they should, the way I wanted them to, the way I expected they would. I get it wrong on average: %100 of the time. Sometimes I don’t know I’m getting it wrong because I like what I get. But it is never what I expected.
So why do I go on predicting, planning, controlling, manipulating, cajoling and obsessing?
Because I’m scared.
I’m scared that some how in the next moment or deeper in the future I won’t be okay, I’ll be in pain, I’ll be poverty stricken, I’ll be lonely, I’ll have a miserable job and chronic pain, I won’t be my image of myself…I could go on and on.
Here’s what I offer myself when the insecurity gets intense enough I can’t ignore it (I’m hiding under the covers for the duration of the day, I’m losing my cool with someone I love).
1. I kiss my shoulder
(In public I just imagine it, don’t want to get locked up or anything…okay, that isn’t totally true, even in public I sometimes do this). I’m serious, we give our family and friends—the kids in our lives—kisses when they aren’t feeling well, when they are being hard on themselves, why shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves? As you can see, I’m shy and a little defensive about this, but it has improved my relationship with myself considerably.
2. Then having established some caring toward the confused creature that I am I ask myself, “What is really the matter?”
3. I listen.
Not just to the tumble of thoughts that have been plaguing me, but to what is actually going on right here and now.
4. I discover I’m human.
Maybe I have a stomachache, or I’m upset about something I said to someone earlier. Maybe I realize a hurt or fear inside I’ve been living with since I was little. Not something that has anything to do with the future, but something that is here and uncomfortable right now.
5. I stop resisting the uncomfortable and be with it–tenderly.
Feelings and sensations are alive in us. They are full of energy and want to be expressed and acknowledged. So I see what I can do to just let the energy be there, or move, or whatever it needs.
6. I focus on what IS comfortable and secure.
Sometimes the feelings or sensations are just too much. Instead of unwinding it seems I’m retriggering my anxiety and insecurity. When this happens I locate a place inside that feels at ease, maybe even strong. For me this is often my feet. I build up my experience of okayness in my feet in this moment (I know, sounds strange, but it really helps).
7. I go slowly.
Now that I’ve realized the insecurity isn’t in my future, but is alive in the present, I offer myself some much needed compassion and tenderness.
8. I ask myself, “Is this okay? Is it tolerable? Can I accept this?”
Sometimes the answer is YES and sometimes it is NO. When it is No, I ask myself, “Is that okay? Can I live with the NO right now?”
9. I ask myself, “What is possible right now?”
Each moment the unknown is unfolding before us, we really don’t know what will happen or who we will be. If you ask this question and are open to all answers you will be surprised by what you hear—not from your thinking brain, but from your heart brain. Sometimes I hear, “I need to rest for now.” Or, “I think I’ll go dig in the garden a little.” Or, “I really need to put on loud music and dance.” Who knows, but the answer is about meeting ourselves in this moment and taking a step back from trying to secure our unsecurable future.
10. I respect the answer.
This is so hard. Hard not to argue that staying in bed will be my ruin, or that I have more important things to do than dance. But if I can quiet these voices, do what I need to do, and trust when the next thing needs to be done, I’ll do that, I begin to relax into joy. Sometimes if I absolutely must do something other than what my heart calls for, I promise my heart that I’ll come back as soon as possible and fulfill its request.
11. I remind myself the unknown is mystery and grace. I put one foot in front of the other knowing it won’t get me anywhere but here.