I am not about to sit here and tell you that everyday is gonna be filled with awesome sauce and that toxic positivity is the way to move through the world. I can however say without question that life has thrown things my direction I did not feel I could overcome, even when it was fear that I knew I needed to face but somehow couldn't get over the dread.
I will share with you what I have successfully used to help ground me, keep me present and focused in the face of fear. The practice of gratitude in my life is something I do at some point everyday...but the way I utilize it in my "toolbox" is when I am dysregulated and need to keep going passed my comfort-zone (where all of the good stuff is BTW). The method is best explained when I used it to face my fear of walking into a college campus after thirty years as a STUDENT. I was so worried and telling myself a million stories as to why it was so stupid of me to do this, that people would be judging me, that I would be the oldest in my class...what if I failed? The list was swirling around in my mind for what seemed like hours as I sat in my car after locating a parking spot, no small task at Sam Houston State University. The fear was crowding me in my car, the energy it held was powerful and for a brief time overwhelmed me. I then recalled from my years of therapy for C-PTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder ), a method given the acronym S.C.O.P.E. which is a somatic technique that helps us calm our central nervous system which is hyperactive during times of stress and trauma triggers, etc. The "O" is to orient, this is done by looking around and noticing things that you would normally not be focused on and specifically focusing on an object or thing.
"Orienting typically involves the process of selective attention, characterized by the focusing of one's attention on a specific object or location over other objects or locations in the environment.", (White et al., 2009).
I used the act of orienting and combined it with a gratefulness practice of mine and together it worked to calm me down, move one step closer to leaving my car... I purposely started to look around and be grateful for everything I would see and talk to myself (in my thoughts not out loud...that would be weird...LOL). It went something like this, "I am thankful for my car, I am thankful for my body being able to walk, I am thankful for my brain to be able to focus, I am thankful for this school, I am thankful for the privilege I have to attend this school, I am thankful for the trees, the birds...etc." I proceeded to make a point to do this the whole way from my car to my seat in the first class of my formal undergraduate studies at a University, after going to my local community college for my Associates Degree. The campus was HUGE, it was nearly a half a mile from my car to the seat in the classroom. It worked beautifully and due to my intentional focus combined with internalizing gratitude, I was calm and happy to be "where I was" in my life that day.
I had successfully navigated the intense fear and doubt, all of the self-harming thoughts of unworthiness that come up when we are being challenged to do something different.
I hope my share today inspires you to consider creating your own gratitude practice in your life. It is not about being overly positive and dismissing the feelings we NEED to feel. This gratitude practice is how we move from unhealthy and dysfunctional thinking towards what is in fact reality. I say it over and over again in our meetings and to my sponsee's..."Be where your feet are" it is a practice of coming out of your inner thoughts, future thinking, past reliving, to where you are in this moment. Mindfulness practices fill my "toolbox" for healthy living and maintaining my recovery.
In Service with Love,