Let’s say you are aware you are holding your breath or tapping your feet or biting your lip or rolling your forefinger across your thumb or tightening muscles in your abs or neck or back or butt… Congratulations!!! Your awareness is success. An observing mind is the very first important tool we have in our journey to our most authentic and powerful lives. So please take a moment to give yourself credit.
The very next thing you need to do is assess: are you in immediate danger? If there is a threat to life and limb, run away. If not, love yourself.
Let me say that again: If there is an immediate threat to life and limb, run away. If not, love yourself. Simple, right? Right, but so hard to do…
Our bodies are intelligent and they are constantly scanning our world to determine if we are safe. Our bodies pay attention to the outer and inner worlds, and ask us many, many times a day to assure them that we are safe. They send us the question “Are we safe?” via sensations of muscle tension and agitation. If we are in physical danger the body is ready to run and jump and fight to save our lives. If I am about to make a left hand turn and suddenly a speeding motorist races through the yellow light my sympathetic nervous system orchestrates a rush of adrenaline, raises my heart rate, increases my respiration, focuses my vision on the target and the escape path, increases power to my limbs and allows me to rapidly swerve out of the way without even knowing how I did that. Amazing, brilliantly intelligent body!
Those situations of actual physical danger however are relatively rare in our modern lives. Most of the time when our nervous system is activated it is due to the human truth of vulnerability. We are faced with the fact of our limits to control over outcomes that matter to us. We want something to happen and we cannot guarantee it. And that is our moment of choice. Choice is power. It is not control that is power, because there are always limits to our control. It is our choice that empowers us, and our choice that frees us.
Will you approach and love yourself in the moment, paying tender attention to the sensations in the body to let it know you are vulnerable in this moment, but there is no immediate physical danger? Or will you avoid yourself in the physical discomfort of your sympathetic nervous system arousal, ignoring yourself and shutting down your awareness of what you feel, or neglecting yourself with a frightening story that falsely validates the sensations? Will you worry as a trick to make you think you really can control everything? Will you shame and blame yourself when you do not succeed in controlling everything? Will you numb out with busy-ness and food and alcohol and television and work and shopping and exercise and…
Or will you love yourself? Will you lean toward yourself? Will you be a spring sun illuminating and warming the earth of your body? Will you offer warmth, interest, and non-judgment from your observing mind to your fretful body? Your loyal, intelligent body that loves you so much? Will you love your body back? Will you give it the assurance it needs?
If there is nothing to run from right now, love yourself. That is everything, and you are so worth it.
Photo Credit: Sparker