What Do I Do Now?
As therapy progresses, I have had many clients ask this question in one way or another. When we have enough negative and traumatic experiences early on in life, it’s easy to move into adulthood with hypervigilance and an intense fear of showing up and being vulnerable in anyway. After a lifetime of this behavior it becomes a substantial part of one’s identity.
I am depressed
I am anxious
I am afraid
I am angry
What happens when you can’t finish that statement “I am?” You feel lost. These adjectives aren’t just descriptor words for what you may be feeling day in and day out, but over a lifetime, they become your companions. You feel protected by them because they keep you guarded and safe — never to be hurt or betrayed again. Sometimes it is wise to be guarded, particularly around toxic energy vampires, but if you’re not aware of who these vampires are, your loyal companions (fear, anger, sadness) will close you off to everyone — even the safe, loving, and nurturing folks who want to connect with you. Most importantly, they keep you closed off from your Self.
So as you start to heal and begin to feel safe and loved again, you might get nervous about what’s ahead. If you’re not using your energy to protect yourself 24/7, where will you focus your energy? Who are you if you’re not depressed, angry or afraid? If you’re not berating yourself all the time, what will you do instead? All great questions. And I may have an answer for you.
You now get to focus your energy on Pandora’s box. A different type of Pandora’s box. Not the one that holds your trauma, but the one that contains your dreams. The dreams that seemed impossible to pursue because you were too angry or afraid of reaching for them. Or you believed that you didn’t deserve to pursue these dreams. The dreams of stepping into your aliveness, your power, and living from your heart & soul. When you are not preoccupied by your past, you can be more present to this version of you, the authentic you.
Here are some ways to re-acquaint with your authentic Self:
- Daily Quiet Time: Start your day with a brief, 5-20 minutes of quiet time and allow yourself to just notice. Notice the thoughts that are bouncing around in your mind. Notice how your body feels. Notice your breathing, is it fast or slow or inconsistent? Notice your emotions in the present moment. Just notice. Without judgment or changing anything. This first step is simply about noticing.
- Morning Pages from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way: Just write with a pen on paper, 3 pages of whatever comes to your mind. It’s an exercise of de-cluttering your mind. Clearing out those cobwebs. You’d be surprised at how much clarity comes to you after doing this exercise!
- Physical Activity 1-7 times per week: yoga, pilates, walking, cycling, playing a sport, taking a class at the gym, strength training, hiking, gardening, snowboarding, swimming, rock climbing, etc. Make it fun or you won’t continue doing it. This isn’t about losing weight or becoming super fit. This is just about moving and becoming familiar with the body. Physical activity helps to sustain stable emotions while keeping you attuned to your body. Notice how your body feels after various activities. Maybe you’ll discover a fun, new activity – or rediscover and old favorite – that also feels deeply fulfilling.
- Time in Nature: Saunter into the woods and just sit amongst the trees; kayak or paddle board on the water; Sit or walk along a beach; Sit on a large boulder and with all 5 senses, take in the scenery around you, etc. Research shows that spending time in nature stabilizes blood pressure, opens up intuition and creativity, relaxes the body and soothes the nervous system. Sometimes I get the best ideas when I’m communing with nature.
- Create a Vision Board: This is a time to allow your creativity to flow and have a little fun. Access your inner child and allow them to guide this process. Kids are experts at creativity, spontaneity and welcoming new ideas. If you’re no longer a prisoner of your past, who do you want to be?
- Get a poster board and several of your favorite magazines, glue or tape and scissors.
- Go through the magazines and cut out the pictures and quotations that resonate with you and your core values.
- Glue or tape these cut outs to your poster board.
- Hang your vision board up someplace you’ll see everyday, like the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror.
- Every time you walk by it, stop to acknowledge and admire your board. Just for a few moments. By doing this you’re allowing your subconscious mind to absorb your vision and your subconscious mind will create a structural tension with your conscious mind. This will eventually and organically motivate you to shift in the direction of your vision board.
- To intensify this experience, you can always include your vision board in with your meditation practice and visualize what it would feel like to be living out your vision, your authentic Self.
For those of you who have started to contemplate a new way of being in the world – because you no longer feel imprisoned by your past – I say CONGRATULATIONS to you! You’ve made it through the toughest part of your journey. Now you get to rest, reflect and actually savor this next chapter. You deserve as much….and more. For those who are still finding your way, I’d like to pass along a free course offer from my friend and colleague, Deanne Carter:
Get motivated, gain clarity and confidence of your purpose/mission, your ideal client, and promote yourself. This 5 Part Course will give you a reason to dig deep as you challenge habits/patterns that sabotage you, navigation markers to make decisions from, fuel your career passion, and help you find deeper fulfillment and motivation. Use it as a one day retreat or allow it to unfold with an exercise each week: Embody Your Worth
PIERCING THE SOUL by Tosha Silver
a pearl-handled dagger of light
piercing the soul
you’ve done enough
now just let go
to all You knew
you always knew