So you’re in the grocery store without your shopping list because your phone has died because you left your charger at home that morning because the dog distracted you from your usual leaving the house routine because you didn’t take him out to pee first thing because you had to iron the shirt you forgot was still in the drying because last night you were too exhausted and fell asleep on the couch while the drying was still running because you’re under so much pressure at work because there’s a promotion that could be yours which would mean you could finally make enough money to live the lifestyle you think you should be living. So now you’re in the grocery store trying to keep it together and remember what you were supposed to buy to make dinner for your family.
Take a deep breath. Oxygen helps. Ask yourself what you CAN do and give yourself permission to forget something and buy food that works for you right now. While you’re waiting in that line (despite the “3’s a crowd” policy the line is 27 minutes) start the process of noticing all the feelings that are contributing to the desire to melt down. Don’t judge the feelings as good or bad; just notice. Allow yourself to feel your feels. Now check out and be kind to the checker; you’ll feel better if you’re nice. Go home, eat some food, then turn OFF the TV. Give yourself even just 10 minutes to sit with your feelings and peel the layers of WHY you’re feeling each feeling until you come to the root. That root is what needs some love right now.
All the feelings behind WHY you’re fighting an anxiety attack in the store have nothing to do with your phone or dinner or work or the dog, and everything to do with your deeper feelings about life. You may not be able to heal those deep feels in a split second at the meat counter, but through noticing the symptoms of them you have regained the perspective on why you’re feeling what you’re feeling which gives you the strength to stave off the anxiety at least long enough to check out. The practice of noticing our thoughts and feelings puts us back in the driver’s seat of our reactions. It allows perspective of “why” we’re feeling and reacting, and once we have our “why” we can begin to do the work that needs to be done. Which usually means healing the wounds inside. A noticing practice doesn’t do the laundry or take the dog out, but it does allow us to suspend a moment for long enough to decide what emotion we want to respond with. Which means you get to decide if you need to be anxious or if you’re actually ok and can proceed with peace.
The more you practice noticing and discovering the why the more natural it will become for you to proceed with peace. Our thought and emotion habits carve our brain like rivers. It takes time to re-direct a river and it takes time to re-direct our thought habits. At first the re-direction must be so intentional, until slowly it becomes the natural flow. Maybe in a few years you’ll find yourself with a dead cell phone in the grocery store, but because you’ve invested the time in yourself you’ll be able to quickly arrive at, “I’m alive, I’m breathing, it’s ok if I buy something different, my family will be fed, and I don’t need to punish myself with anxiety.”
I’m not saying you’re going to stop finding yourself in situations where everything is falling apart, but I AM saying you’ll be able to maintain peace through those moments.
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