- I’m grateful for the generosity and valor of a certain special gentleman who drove, lifted, carried, and helped me ship many things at FedEx and the post office, today – I feel so much better and more secure as I prepare for the big move, and could never have done it without you
- I’m grateful for having seen two wonderful shows this week, with the same special gentleman – Fun Home and Avenue Q – beautiful jolts of inspiration and heart!
- I’m grateful for time spent with these two amazing little ladies and their lovely mom, yesterday
Two ideas have been competing in my brain today, to be the subject of this post. I’m going to attempt chatting about both, because I think they are (or can be) related. The two concepts are:
Waiting for the other shoe to drop and Spinning out
What is my definition of waiting for the other shoe to drop, in this context, you ask? – I’m talking about the sensation we sometimes feel when life is going “a little too smoothly.” When one area of our existence is fantastic, and we await “the catch.” As in – “Well, this one part of my life is going amazingly right now, so something in my romantic relationship is probably going to bomb, or that plane I’m getting on tomorrow is bound to crash, or my identity is going to get stolen.” Or even if those thoughts don’t become as fully realized as that, it might still manifest as the general sensation of waiting for something bad to happen. We think, “Oh, this is way too good – it won’t last…”
Do you experience this, when life is “a little too smooth”? I feel it in a much more unconscious way than I used to, but from time to time I still find myself in this headspace.
(I recently found an old journal from college. It has many lists with titles like you see above. I cropped out the actual list, but there are 18 items in this particular entry, with fears ranging from “paying my car insurance” to “what I’ll be doing over the summer,” to “disappointing _______.”
What is my definition of spinning out, in this context, you ask? – I’m talking about the sensation that occurs when one worrisome thought leads to another, and another – and suddenly we are drifting in a dizzying state of overwhelm, unable to root ourselves in the present moment, or move forward and accomplish anything. The kinds of activities or situations that tend to trigger spinning out for me, are:
- Moving (which I do a lot)
- Reading Web MD
- When I have to make a decision that feels especially big or important
- When I’m about to do something I’ve never done before
- When I feel like my actions might disappoint somebody
- When I was in school, having projects due in multiple classes, on the same day
- Other things I’m sure, but these are the first examples to pop into my mind
When a person “spins out,” one might experience feelings of
- Mental Fog
- Desire to crawl back under the covers
- Inability to focus
- Desire to distract oneself with absolutely anything else that is mindless/has nothing to do with what needs to be accomplished
- General paralysis
- Guilt over having spun out in the first place
Sound familiar at all? And honestly, I think that waiting for the other shoe to drop can (but not always) lead to spinning out. And one of the reasons I think they are connected is that they are both rooted in limiting patterns of belief. We’ve (however innocently) trained our bodies and minds to respond to certain trigger situations (which are different for everyone) with the belief that we aren’t worthy of the good in our lives, that things are hard, and on some level we should expect problems and difficulties. That if we aren’t worrying about something…there is probably something wrong with us! After awhile, this line of thinking becomes an unconscious response to stressful situations. So how do we rewire? How do we move forward? I’m a big fan of acrostics, acronyms, and mnemonic devices of all sorts, so I made us this – A.C.T.I.O.N.
Acknowledge – Own the experience, exactly as it is. “Ok, I’m really worried right now, and can feel my thoughts leading to a freak-out, or at the very least – more worried thoughts. I hate the way this feels! I’ve read in thirteen self help books that we have the power to choose our thoughts! Why do I feel so out of control??” Let it all out. Feel all the feels.
Clarify – Dissect the thought and see if we can find the root of what’s troubling us, precisely. If the worst thing that could possibly happen, happened – what would it mean? Why are we scared of that? What’s at the core of the worry?
Thank – Thank our bodies for functioning properly and alerting us when there is a possibility of danger! This seems to be a good alternative to guilt. Even if the warning is not useful to us, we can be glad that we’re firing on all cylinders.
Imagine – Imagine, in detail, the situation we are worried about – but with our ideal desired outcome. I read about this idea in a dozen books and thought it sounded hokey, before I tried it. I’m not talking about unicorns and butterflies (though I am admittedly fans of both) – I’m talking about responding to situations with confidence and flexibility. I’m talking about taking action, making phone calls, using our words effectively, and getting things done with positive outcomes. If it’s moving to a new place that worries us, for example – when we’re in bed the night before, imagine walking through a successful move, and everything that would mean, in perfect detail.
Open – Open our minds to the equal possibility that the situation we are stressing about has just as good a chance of turning out wonderfully, as it does being a disaster. And however it goes, that we will be able to handle it.
Navigate – Navigate our way back to the present moment. Our worries are based on things that haven’t even happened yet, and may never happen. If we can find our way back to where we are right now, and identify what we can do in THIS moment, if anything, to help create our desired outcome (like pack a box, make that phone call, pick up that pen, ask for the help we need), shifting our focus to that little bit of action can definitely contribute to feelings of peace and confidence
This time last year I was preparing to play Cinderella in Into the Woods. Someone whose other shoe did drop – literally. And look what happened to her : ) A girl who was relegated to the cinders, abused by her family, and (at the beginning of her story) exemplified many of the core worries we may all share – that we’ll experience or be doomed to a life of loneliness, isolation, poverty, unfulfilling work, love-less relationships and not being seen/appreciated for who we really are. Through hard work, resourcefulness, kindness, and action, Cinderella pierced through the pattern that her life was, and created a new reality. I think we frequently adopt the belief that “nothing good lasts.” But I would argue, “nothing bad lasts, either.”
I can’t say for sure what the ideal antidote is for spinning out, or waiting for the other shoe to drop – but moving forward, I’m going to try action. Want to join me? : )
See you next week, Celebrationists, for the first GBD we’ve had in awhile!