What if you only got 3 small things done today?
What if you noticed your brain worrying about the what-ifs and made contact with the present moment instead?
What if your body and your brain weren't quite so busy?
When I ask women these questions, at first the answers are very concrete. "My house would be a mess." "Dinner wouldn't be on the table on time."
But when we dig just one level deeper, it becomes strikingly clear how terrified most of us are of stepping off of the frantic, hypervigilant, panicky ferris wheel of BUSY.
Each one of us has our own unique story about why BUSY is safer than SLOW.
These stories come from our individual histories, our temperaments, our present circumstances, and the culture in which we live.
Our stories are driven by our minds' desire to keep us safe, but our minds don't tend to check and see if there are other, more painful consequences of letting these stories direct our actions.
When we design our lives around avoiding these Scary Stories, we are distracted, tense, worried, and exhausted and missing out on the sweet, connected, moments of every day life.
There are 3 Scary Stories that I see driving most women's need for perpetual motion (in their minds and bodies):
1. Slowing Down Means Losing Control and Losing Control Means Bad Things Happen
If you grew up in a home with grown-ups who were chaotic and unpredictable, you likely find comfort in controlling things. Or, if you have a very sensitive nervous system, you may attempt to prevent overwhelm by micro-managing every aspect of your life. Your mind wants to keep you safe, and believes constant control is the best method for achieving it.
Your mind doesn't bother to check and see if there are other, worse consequences of needing constant control. Like being distracted, frantic, exhausted every single day.
2. Slowing Down Would Leave Room for My Imperfections to Show and Then I'd Be Rejected
If you grew up with critical parents, you likely find comfort in avoiding imperfection. As a kid, this avoidance was key to maintaining the bond between you and the adults you depended upon. Or, maybe you were born with perfectionistic tendencies (perfectionism is believed to be partially genetic!), and have intense negative feelings when your vulnerabilities are exposed. Your mind wants to ensure your are loved and accepted, and believes constantly proving your worth is the best method for achieving this.
Your mind doesn't bother to check and see if there are other, worse consequences of needing to be perfect. Like being tense, preoccupied, and anxious every single day.
3. Slowing Down Means Feeling Secure and Then I Might Get Blindsided
If you experienced significant loss or change in your childhood - such as frequent moves, divorce, or changing parental figures - you likely find comfort in being prepared for the worst. As a kid, it felt more painful to get comfortable with a new person or place, and then have it torn away. It felt safer to keep your distance, not get attached, and have the loss sting less. Your minds wants to protect you from the pain of potential loss, and it thinks staying disconnected and worried is the best method for achieving this.
Your mind doesn't bother to check and see if there are other, worse consequences of disconnection and worry. Like being overwhelmed, frustrated, and burnt-out every single day.
What To Do With These Fears
1. Notice When Your Scary Story Is Trying To Direct Your Thoughts and Actions
Once you are aware of the stories that are driving your busy-ness, you can start to notice when they are taking charge. Your Scary Story may want to take up all the real estate in your brain, but simply by noticing it, you can start to weaken it's hold on you.
2. Be Compassionate With The Scared Parts of Yourself
Even though you may realize your fear isn't relevant anymore, the scared parts of you don't know that. The scared parts of you need your compassion and respect in order to be soothed and let go of the reigns a bit. Your scared parts may have saved your life at one time, and deserve your gratitude.
3. Be Clear On What a Vital, Meaningful Daily Life Looks Like for You
If your thoughts and actions are not going to be guided by the desire to avoid fear, you need to have an alternative motivation. Work on defining what a valued life looks and feels like to you- what matters, what you're about. Then in the moments when the Scary Stories want to drive the bus in one direction, you have a sense of a different direction to go in. For example, "Instead of avoiding my fear of rejection, I am going to move toward feeling close to him right now."
4. Take it One Day at a Time (One Moment at a Time, Really!)
Don't plan on your Scary Stories ever going away. They may have saved your life at one time, so they are powerful, and worthy of some gratitude for how they served you in the past. Often our desire to have our struggle with fear go away is fueled by that perfectionism story line, so please have compassion for your wish to not be scared.
Each moment you have the opportunity to choose what parts of yourself direct your actions and receive your full attention. In each moment you have all the power.
In each moment, there are millions of women around the world cheering you on and needing your courage.
Reflect on the 3 Scary Stories above, and notice which ones resonate most with you. How do you see them operation in how you spend your time and energy?
Then observe your experience throughout the day. When does your fear want to drive the bus and get you busy busy busy?
Then you can choose: Do I want to avoid fear or do I want to create something more vital, meaningful, and life-affirming in this moment?
Leave a comment below sharing your thoughts so we can support and inspire each other.
With love and optimism,