I have become this oddly worried person the last few months. My children and my husband have all gone through tremendous life changes since November. Some exciting and joyous, some scary and devastating. As with all crises and life-changes, things eventually even out. We begin to operate on a new normal, and what was once scary and heartbreaking morphs into something that may be better. We know for sure that everything is impermanent and things change constantly. But when the changes happened in a matter of six weeks, it was easy to let the day-to-day worry seep in and take over.
I suddenly became that person who worried her hands, was anxious all the time, wondering if the snow would be too much, or if my husbands cold was something more, or if the kids would find happiness if they felt stressed for an hour. I was catastrophizing everything and it felt terrible.
I could tell it felt terrible, by how my chest was constricted, I felt on the verge of panic attacks, obsessively cleaning my house, and worrying, worrying, worrying all day long. I couldn’t stand to be inside my body. I was becoming a person that I didn’t want to be or live with, and my self-esteem was tumbling. Something had to change!
Late last Fall, I knew I needed to find a new therapist. I had been “graduated” from therapy for about 8 months but I felt I needed someone to help me continue to learn to live with my PTSD symptoms. Even using all the tools in my toolbox, I found myself still fighting them and being angry at them every day. After a long search, I found a new therapist and had my first appointment in January.
Last week during our session, I told her how I had become this worried, anxious person who felt terrible in my mind and body. I had an understanding where it was coming from, and I knew why it was happening. I didn’t need that kind of insight. What I needed was to learn how to put things in perspective so I could begin to feel better, and to stop any downward spiral into crisis.
After I described how I felt physically, emotionally, and my thought patterns, she taught me this: Listen to the whispers in your body. (the fatigue, the need for rest, the need for peace and quiet, the way the body wants to exercise (does it need yoga or aerobics). She explained that my body and mind were whispering to me. If I could stop, and listen to those whispers, then my body, and mind won’t have to begin to scream at me. Screaming at me may manifest into crisis.
I stopped and aptly listened as she was teaching me this technique. It sounds so easy, and of course, we hear (and I say to others) just stop, don’t forget to breathe and rest. But when it comes to myself, those are often just words. There was something about the lesson of listening to the whispers that make sense to me and felt doable.
With that lesson learned, I have been practising listening to the whispers of my body and mind and trying to hear and honor what they are saying. I’m not perfect at it, I’m still trying to metabolize what that really means for me. But, I’m going to use it as a daily practice. I hope a lifelong practice.
Do you listen to the whispers in your body and mind before they become screams?
Thank You for reading my new book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels. Available in both Kindle and paperback.