Our Spirit Group facilitator, Mary, helped me through an emotionally challenging, teary discussion by having me switch to referring to myself in the 3rd person rather than as I. Using this process (while cumbersome at first) really works in taking the sting out of words. Later on, during a counseling session, a therapist used the same method with He and I which made honest conversation easier to acknowledge.
Here’s an excerpt from an article I found from Psychology Today:
“When using third person or “non-first-person” pronouns during self-talk, you do not use pronouns such as I, me, or my. Instead, you speak to yourself (either in a hushed tone or silently inside your own head) using pronouns such as you, he, she, it, or your own first or last name. In recent years, a wide range of studies has found that third-person self-talk can improve emotion regulation and self-control by facilitating self-distancing and reducing egocentric bias”
Years ago while learning to cope with and live with my relationship with my mother, I began to refer to her in conversations by her given name. While I absolutely did not have the gonads to call her Helen to her face, I recall the feelings of less lethal emotions when I gave myself permission to not refer to her with the beloved name of Mom. Of course, mom wasn’t actually the name she preferred…it was Mother. It’s highly likely that Mother is a loving name spoken from children to their beloved. But in my case it was a “formal” expectation which was another knife wound that separated mother and daughter.
In a FB conversation with a friend this morning, I referred to mom as Helen….and that’s what brought this whole train of thought coursing through my brain like a slow meandering stream. Use it if it feels good. We all have uncomfortably charged conversations
This morning one of those wormy kind of things wiggled its way into my consciousness and I recognized it as a symptom of my fear of scarcity. I won’t head dive into everything I’ve learned in the last couple of years about the fear of not having enough…whether it be money or toilet paper or love … but Once I recognized it in myself, I started questioning if this is the fear that has many hoarding toilet paper and chlorine wipes during this pandemic. This fear was a cloud I remember over my childhood…it probably goes without saying that a child should not grow up aware of their parents fear….but we know what sponges children are. My parents were young adults during the depression so I get it!
With that in mind, it is obvious when you look at my overflow closet in the basement that I buy in bulk. The difference in buying in bulk to save money and buying in bulk because of the comfort of always having what I think I need when I need it is a very thin line.
Just like all of my spiritual ah ha moments, I’m not sure why this realization showed up this morning…but I know it comes to be healed. I buy coffee in bulk …a box of 72 keurig morning blend and one box of dark roast. It used to be when the stash got down to 12 or 13 K cups, I knew it was time to reorder. Similar to a friends wife who sent her husband to the store for cartons of cigarettes when she was down to one carton in the closet.
This morning when I lifted the lid I realized that another 2 boxes of kcups arrived this week…I obviously did not need to order. The realization hit me that this is a bigger issue than I realized…this fear of running out. I think the pandemic and the run on toilet paper inflamed my “lack” nerve. Instead of irritation with the lack of toilet paper on the shelves of the grocery store, I send grace to those people who, perhaps, are also suffering from an unrecognized fear of lack. I need to offer grace to everyone who is not exactly like me because I have NO IDEA what their lives and their fears feel like to them!
Pandemic hours and days roll right into each other. But, quite frankly, I’m not sure I remember ever living such a simple life with this level of contentment. With that being said, I am filled with compassion for my family and friends who are navigating this new path of daily living. Complicating that confusion is the information we receive from our “leaders” and the media, thus the only reliable guidance available is inner wisdom ……. that inner knowing that we file away page by page as we experience daily life…brick by brick day by day over the years. We are each living from our gut…societal “leadership” is out there but the voice is hard to hear….and I often feel we must compromise ourselves and our instincts because “leadership” seems to compromise its integrity by refusing to follow a moral compass when we need it the most.
Even the COVID-19 virus is separating us. An illness…a virus! At this time, we cannot agree on anything. I found the following on Facebook. I appreciated the dichotomy of raising our children with busy, busyness vs children experiencing a different way of growing up. Slowing down. Is it possible not returning to school during this deadly pandemic will not, in fact, be the end all for healthy children but a new way to experience life while growing emotional intelligence?
There is no “right way” to do anything. Most often, opinions are not based in fact but rather based on personal beliefs handed down from generation to generation…those beliefs and opinions never questioned. Seems we are running out of choices…perhaps coming together sharing innovative ideas is the solution as opposed to scratching each other’s eyes out like wild animals.
We fear so we think if we can control everything around us or within us then we will be safe.
Control is an illusion. Learning to let go of my illusion of control, has been a many decade endeavor. I, seriously, believed that once I understood that there is really nothing I can control that the rest would be gravy, so to speak. I really didn’t understand that driving element of fear pressure cooking inside me. I don’t blame my parents or society for my fear but I do question the circumstances surrounding that knowing of where they came from…these depression age people who lived through knowing about the atrocities that can happen if you don’t fight for and protect yourself…just look at what happened to the Jews. The generation grew up fearing scarcity. Perhaps they survived with an oath of never again.
I know this mentality leaked out…as a child, I caught the drips and drifts of the fear cloud that hung over the 50’s and 60’s. There was often something to be afraid of. Keep your head down, don’t brag and fear other people that are not like you!
The gravel road to understanding and healing myself led me to the spiritual inner voice within…not out there…a very simple concept in reality of who we really are but not an overnight fix by any means. It’s all inside me…the answer is right here….not out there…there’s nothing outside there that I need to control….there is nothing out there controlling me.
I have never been a morning person, although most of my adult life I have been “forced” by my choice of employment to embrace the morning…either as an overnight employee embracing the sunrise just before bedtime or waking with the sunrise to begin my day. I can think of a handful of sunrise moments where I truly appreciated the early morning bursting light as a comfort representing divine order….that the sunrise, without fail, is a sure thing…a constant in my life.
I watched sunrise unfold this morning from my office chair…I watched it from first breath of the new day to its unfolding and I embraced the comfort. The comfort in the universe…the understanding of a greater power, a knowing that what we do here on earth today seems very important to us but we are but a small seed in the universe…in the big picture.
I woke up around 5 this morning, chatted with a bestie on line, tried to read a book which I’m not finding fascinating but I feel it does enhance my language skills since I’m not talking very much. There are a few big words in it which I hope I would pronounce correctly due to the fact reading written words is much different than wrapping your tongue around them. I knew the book could not satisfy me like a good sunrise on a clear day….and then I thought…I can be at the grocery store when it opens at 7 and avoid all of the angst of people.
It was freeking depressing. There were a few cars in the lot and every person in there other than cashiers were my age and older….and everyone looking like they did exactly what I did. Grabbed clothes hanging on the end of the bed and off to the store. Depressing…because I could feel it and see it in their faces. It was a totally different experience than a trip to the store during the heart of the day or after 5 pm.
There were no smiles, no nodding of the head. They slowed down on approach and actually stopped. I considered turning my cart around and going the other way so they would be more comfortable…but I realized this would not work looking at the big picture.
I tried to avoid everyone the best I could. I kept a smile on my face, love in my eyes and blessed everyone in the confines of my life in that moment. With the frequently blasted death sentence of the corona virus, older folks are genuinely scared and we need to respect that and love them with everything we have.
……and by mental, I mean what is the story we are telling ourselves. As I wander around the house seeing things that need to be done, I tell myself I don’t really want to do them. These are the exact same things I had all kinds of excuses for back in January and February…you know….the good old days.
Now because the “powers that be” have instituted new rules to keep me safe, I feel like I’m being disciplined. This is in no way a Pollyanna commentary that everything is just fine…there is a lot of suffering. But I am trying to just watch the back-of-my-mind running narration telling me that if this was my choice….a stay at home vacation….needed down time from the busyness, I would not be complaining at all. I would be breathing in the solitude…I would be enjoying the guiltless time to read a book, catch up on TV series I had recorded, settling in for an afternoon movie. It’s not like we are without any options for our leisure time.
Is it safe to say that the angst, anger, boredom in our required downtime is more the story we are telling ourselves than reality…saying “I can’t” rather than “I won’t”. Because of the fear of “catching” the virus and the uncertainty of available health care or for me….mortality, I choose to not have any physical association with others. But if that were not a fear… I have the choice …. like so many others are doing …. ignore the rules in order to satisfy immediate gratification. Theoretically this makes it my choice!
This may be activity day for the egoic voices in my head. This thought pattern was only the first 15 minutes of coffee in my hand, on the couch, waking up….buckle up!
I think we learn fear…I really don’t think it’s just natural to be afraid of things, everything, hyper vigilant in our fear, smothering fear. I’m not a disciple of the past life-reincarnation theory. Actually I fall right in the center…some things I hear or experience have me on the right -maybe- side of it. Then I walk along one foot in front of the other thinking naw…don’t believe it…..and with that little tangent about my belief system…there are times that I wonder if my fears “could” be the result of past karma, past life experiences…noticing fur on the ground while looking for nuts and the next thing you know, the saber tooth tiger is chasing me toward my cave entrance.
I was born from, raised by and fought off the fear that seeped from my mother’s pores. As an example, when my first child was born, my mother was standing in my kitchen comforting the crying baby. When I walked into the room, she told me I should take the child to the doctor and have her tested for cyclic fibrosis because her skin tasted salty. My very first reaction was 0 to 60 rage…my mothers terror was always a recognizable shadow…always with her.
Which leads me right into taking your shoes off when you come in the house….inspired by a Facebook share bestowing the fear of what is on the bottom of the shoe…including a bacteria which can lead to nasty infections with symptoms raging from diarrhea to potentially fatal inflammation. OMG and here I was only worried about the China manufactured disease killing hundreds of thousands along with eating hamburger that has been in my fridge for three days….and number one on the list…the mental illness from which I suffer…the fear and disgust of other people’s bare feet…especially when those bare feet are visible to me in my house or close enough to me that I can recognize them as actual human unclothed feet.
It’s no wonder we are a society of fear, hate and discontent..we are afraid of everything. It is contagious and it is the most dangerous Illness of all!
When it comes right down to the bottom line…most of the crap I give energy to in my day absolutely does not matter….often the rapid ego crises fires off one after the other as I move on to another earth shattering decision I need to make about my hair or what shoes to wear with my jeans.
On my journey, I read and think I have absorbed the difference between thinking with my ego brain…the fear brain or my spirit brain. That fear brain full of I’m not good enough, what if, this could happen, what do they think, if I do that, why is she such a bitch, why is he driving like that, why would she wear that, what will they think if I do it? And the difference in brains. My spirit brain which is fueled by love but most importantly, my spirit brain only recognizes what is happening right here…right this moment. If I’m not thinking about the next moment with my fear brain, I can be in the moment right now where life is happening and it has nothing to do with what if or what they or should I. It’s right now. What do I see, what can I feel, what do I hear right now.
This blog wrote itself after a text from a beloved about an E.R. visit. I went full bore into OMG mode, what if. Irrational fear gripped me until I recognized the behavior. Stop, breath in and out feeling every breath, center myself to what is happening at this moment…right now…..right now all is well.
I find my living in the moment mind amongst the rubble of life by simply realizing what is happening right now…at this moment full stop. Using this mind certainly does not happen easily in our instant gratification world. Simply, it is the mind that must be used to heal the angst and the pain we allow to control our lives every second of the day.
Here’s the on-line instruction manual with directions for how to use this peaceful other mind: ask yourself what is happening right now…right this moment! Interpreted….If I’m not thinking and living the past while constantly being triggered to react to present moments by how I felt when…what someone said …. what someone did TO me… how I felt about the last conversation or the last person I encountered. Or the future…what I have to do today while at work…the stress of grocery shopping or meal preparation … how am I going to lose weight…OMG I have to do this or that. Nope…right now in this moment. In this once in a lifetime present moment, if the mental chatter stopped, if the stories we tell ourselves stopped, right now WITHOUT all of the fears we carry…with this breath I’m breathing is everything ok? Quite frankly, I am seldom able to live here in this moment all day long because, of course, I have figured out an excuse..I have 60 plus years of habitual thinking and over thinking to stop and like everyone else, I have that persistent, incessant talker sitting on my shoulder distracting me.
But what I have found is once I find the discipline to quiet my mind, I realize that my anxiety, my angst, my fears are not from things happening in the present. They are the thoughts of my past or fears of my perceived future. There is absolutely nothing I can do about the past…it’s done and gone unless I keep my version of it alive in my mind…and the future hasn’t happen…I really have no control of the future in spite of my obsessive thinking that I can control it.
A short exercise to bring my mind to a screeching halt is to STOP! Take 3 deep breaths and say to myself….3 things I see right now, 3 things I hear right now and reach out and touch three things I can feel right now. If I practice this every time I am aware of anxiety, irritation, dislike or fear, soon I realize that what is going on right this minute is just fine…is peaceful and this is where I’m going to live….but just like having a push ups goal, it takes practice.