As you move through your day vulnerability confronts you in examples large and small.

Perhaps you’re running late for an appointment, or waiting on an important test result, or going to meet your new partner’s family, or maybe you just heard that a friend had her identity stolen, or you see an article on the rapid rise in animal extinctions, or someone you care about is angry with you, or someone you don’t like wants to spend more time with you, or someone you love is drinking too much, or your dog is sick… you get the picture. Unrest spikes to signal you. You are being invited home to your body in this precise moment so you can matter.

But rather than come home you are wired to unconsciously brace and move away from what you feel when your nervous system spikes. You escape discomfort but get lost in all the ways you avoid the truth of the moment and what you feel. This creates anxiety for some of us (as we worry and try to regain the fantasy of control) and apathy for others (as we decide it is too much effort and pain to care). Experience avoidance is at the heart of what creates suffering.

You can move from overwhelm to calm and transform apathy to aliveness. But to do that you need to give up all the ways you ignore yourself. Stop bracing against unrest. Soften and turn toward yourself, bring warm attention to soothe the anxious arousal so you can feel your emotions, and be more alive to the moment.

Today, see if you can notice wanting something and then acknowledge your limit to 100 percent being able to make it happen. Be aware of the gap between your longing and your ultimate control over the outcome. Let yourself notice how your unrest spikes to let you know you are vulnerable.

Do you catch yourself holding your breath? Do you feel your hands fidgety? Do you feel your shoulders hunch? Can you tune in and say “hello” to your body right there, and assure it that these sensations are simply vulnerability, not danger, so there is nothing your body needs to do to protect you.

Give yourself a loving pat on the back, because noticing unrest is the first step toward mattering. That is success!

Recent Blog Posts:

Embracing Unrest

I’m excited to announce my first book has a launch date! Out October 18th, 2022, Embracing Unrest: Harness Vulnerability to Tame Anxiety and Spark Growth answers the question: why is it so hard to “be here”?

View my “Embracing Unrest” column on Psychology Today!