“Maybe they won’t like this newsletter. Someone may read it and think I’m too ‘out there,’ or don’t know what I’m talking about… or not sensitive to other people’s realities… or perhaps there will be grammatical or spelling errors… or I’ll mess something up and send it out with the wrong month written in the heading, and I’ll look careless….. or maybe everything will go great, and my life will expand and dreams come true, but then maybe I won’t have the energy to live up to the new demands… or I’ll never relax… or create… or… or… or maybe…”
Meet Ms. W (short for Ms. Worrier), a vigilant aspect of me that shows up in my thinking brain when I’m wired, tired, stressed or stretching way out of my comfort zone.
When I’m more resourced, I barely notice her- because even if any or all of this came to be, I know I’ll be okay. Life – and most likely my newsletter – will go on, and I’ll have an opportunity to learn and expand and improve for next time. If Ms. W were a friend, and not a part of me, I’d distance myself from her, and her very narrow lens of the world, filled with some many potential pitfalls and “what if’s.”
But for better or worse, she has a physiological assignment to alert me to potential danger, regardless of the statistical likelihood or actual threat to my safety. Thankfully, through the process of learning new ways and unlearning old, she’s has been regulated to occasional consultant in my life. When I’m facing a challenge, or stretching into something new, she may show up to point out any and all possible obstacles. From there, I’ve learned to take Ms. W’s suggestions and use more expansive parts of myself to creativity prepare.
I’m guessing you have your own version of her. Thanks to evolution, this ability to scan the future and the past for any threats and/or thwarted plans is programmed into our brains. The following points may be helpful to remember for building a healthier relationship to this part of yourself:
*There’s nothing wrong with you.
This is simply part of how humans tick. And every single response you have, including this one, has a wisdom to it, even if it’s a misguided or outdated wisdom. There are times when this kind of vigilant response is perfect, the key is engaging the tools to help see, and shift, when it’s overworking or not helpful.
*You are not your thoughts.
Learn to observe…. practice stepping out and watching these thoughts. Our thinking minds are actually more like radios, receiving the thoughts that are in the collective field – some of them higher frequency than others. When you notice a thought, become curious about what happens to your body, energy level and emotional state. If it lifts and expands you, it’s most likely a thought that’s aligned with your truth. If it contracts, depletes or stresses you, it’s most likely a load of crap.
Meditation, SRI and other mindfulness practices help reprogram the brain to observe from a larger vantage point.
*Learn to identify and acknowledge what’s underneath the thought.
When you notice a thought that contracts or depletes you, speak it out loud, write it down or record it in a voice memo. Now listen back to the words, as though a beloved friend is sharing them. What’s the emotional subtext of that thought (fear, anger, loneliness, etc.)? What might be the deeper need underneath (connection, safety, self-empowerment, preparation, etc.)? This practice helps create space to compassionately witness the emotion and respond to the need in a more creative, effective way.
The more we practice having a new relationship to our own Ms. W’s, the longer the gap between the trigger and the response. We can see the worried thoughts the way we might see a “Falling Rocks Ahead” road sign. 99% of the time, no boulders are going to fall on us…. but the sign, like the thought, is an invitation to pause and respond appropriately.
From this perspective — we can use the information to WIDEN the view of the current conditions, rather than shrink it, making us paradoxically more able to respond to potential danger. And with that, Ms. W can relax once more.
With love, and an awareness of all the falling thoughts ahead,