If you feel stuck and then ask yourself what you “WANT”, the answer might stress you out as the gap between where you are and where you want to be, may be a part of the problem to begin with! If that’s the case, focusing on what you want won’t be of much help to get you moving forward.
What do you NEED?
What do you need RIGHT NOW and what do you need on a CONSISTENT BASIS and LONG-TERM?
When we’re feeling stressed out our first impulse is to soothe ourselves. That might show up as:
RESISTING feelings around what is. Like when trying to push a beach ball back under the water, the beach ball will come back again, hurling to the surface with speed. We resist by numbing through the use of alcohol, caffeine, food, sugar, shopping, sex, or any other of our favorite means.
REACTING based on a stress response. Having worked in high-pressure environments, I’ve seen how extremely common this is, and of course, I’ve also found myself doing it. Depending on the feeling, we might manage it by judging others or ourselves. We act unfavorably, causing harm to others but also to ourselves by being our own worst critics. Yes, self-blame is a coping mechanism designed to reduce our negative feelings!
AVOIDING what is by staying “busy” and distracting ourselves. Favorite ways to do this is by going into over-thinking, overworking, extreme exercise, and distractions (binge-watching tv/scrolling through social media, different apps, etc).
Which ones of these strategies do you tend to use, and when?
Have you noticed that these things will give you a momentary relief but when the effect has worn off, the original pain will come back even STRONGER? Then, like any other addict, (WE'RE ALL ADDICTS!) you’ll need to increase the dose of your favorite soother to get the same effect.
We all do this to some extent - so go easy on yourself! We use these strategies because that’s what we’ve had available to us.
Again, what do you NEED?
A hug from someone you care about?
To speak up for yourself more resolutely?
More connection to like-minded people?
To beat a pillow really hard or to scream your lungs out?
Invest in your relationship with yourself?
Set stronger boundaries with others?
Anything that allows your experience with all the feelings involved, turning to consciously CHOOSE something that is right for YOU, is the answer.
And that's often the last thing we want to do!
We don’t want to feel our “negative” emotions because they hurt and can be extremely uncomfortable. But avoiding, suppressing, or acting out from them will actually only prolong the situation and make it WORSE!
How to CHOOSE to show up for ourselves so we can move in the right direction going forward?
Ask yourself what you need. Notice if your response is to go to any of these coping strategies listed above.
What is a response that would benefit you, at the moment and long term?
Start small, introduce a new response or habit to replace one that you could comfortably get rid of or change.
Keep track of your habits and tendencies in a journal. This will both create awareness, increase the likelihood of accountability and let you see your progress more easily!
Ask yourself empowering questions! I’ve provided some examples in the list below.
Throwing in a BONUS for you. When answering the question of what you need, also consider the following questions:
What is a response that would make me feel proud of myself?
How would I deal with this stress if I were to consciously choose my response?
What could I choose to do that would nourish and replenish me?
(Think of a person you admire) How would they handle this situation and how can I apply that, my way?
What resource or support, if any, do I need in order to deal with the situation causing this stress?
Let me know what aspects of this you found the most useful! And reach out if you need support to move forward!
All the best,