Have you ever missed out on an opportunity because you got too involved in the details? How could you possibly make it work? Is it worth it? There’s so much at stake! So much could go wrong! Your mind works to supply images to support your fear, to keep you safe. You suddenly have 100 excuses not to move forward, to stay stuck and “safe.”
I recently had this experience. I wanted to go to Long Island and visit my family, friends, and all my clients. I planned on stopping in CT to see an old friend and his baby, then staying with my brother and his family on LI for a few days, then moving to my in-laws’ for a few nights while teaching my Therapeutics Teacher Training. I’d visit a few clients during the day, and the rest I’d meet for dinner.
There was a catch, though… I have a baby. She has a sleep routine – kinda. And when I don’t respect it, I get my butt kicked – HARD – that night and the next day. Trying to plan the 6-8 hour car ride – and each visit with naps and bedtime – threw me into a tailspin.
I started stressing. How could I see everyone and line it up just right?
Maybe I just shouldn’t go. I’ll fly in and out for the training.
Then I had a dream, one that would set me free. In that dream, venomous snakes were circling around me, on the ground near my feet and on the cave walls that surrounded me. I grabbed some by the head to open their mouths and expose the teeth. Some I decapitated with a machete.
Doesn’t seem too yogic, does it?
I woke up with a clear message: the poison (and medicine) is in the head. The poison can be paralyzing. I needed to cut off the chitter chatter, the “what ifs,” the made-up fear-based scenarios, and move forward.
I went to Long Island on a Tuesday. I stayed with my brother and his family, saw some of my clients, and had a great time. Steve flew in Thursday night. We stayed with his dad, hung with his mom, and Friday morning before the course began we went for Breakfast at Stella Blue. Fantastic gluten-free pancakes! More importantly (maybe), the perfect serpent bracelet was awaiting me there. I bought it and wore it while I taught. Every time I got anxious about perfection or “what ifs,” I looked down at my bracelet, took a breath, and chose to cut off the poisonous proverbial head.
I did not see everyone I had hoped to see, but I went and it was great. I saw a few fabulous people, taught a fantastic course (I toot my own horn), and had a blast. Sophia and I got to hang with our LI family and friends.
Cutting off the poison of immobilized tension creates room for freedom, joy and possibility.
Perhaps you’ve experienced this with big life decisions or even smaller day-to-day decisions. Do you start your own company? Make the move? Change your relationship status? Have that conversation? Do you take the trip? Do you hike the mountain? Try a new food? Do you expand, OR do you stay with what you know even though you’re feeling drawn to something new?
The stories we tell ourselves are partial, biased, and so by nature they’re limited. The scenarios we make up often don’t happen. These fear-based false imaginings are the poison. The space we create is the medicine. In this space we leave room for life to unfold and to respond to it in a way that supports and uplifts us.
Next time your mind runs away with chatter that doesn’t bring you peace or power, try cutting off the proverbial head with these tools:
1) Identify the venom. (Simply: “These thoughts are paralyzing and not helpful.”)
2) Breathe. (Creates pause and space.)
3) Breathe again. (Why not? More space.)
4) Choose: What do you want to feel like? What are you values?
The bracelet is still helping me, if you need a physical reminder, create one. You’ll be so happy you did.
In the comments below let me know when you’ve used this and how it worked!
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl