I actually wanted to title this post “Save me!”. Because I think, at some point, a lot of us wish for that. Someone to just come and save us from our circumstances, from our mistakes, from ourselves. Ideally, someone who can give us what we need, without wanting anything back, or making us feel obligated or guilty or ashamed.
Likely, these feelings come up because we’ve let things get to the point of overwhelm. We’ve probably had hints or straight-out messages that something isn’t right, but when we receive these messages, we get stressed out because we can’t figure out how to fix things in 10 seconds, so we just keep on keeping on. Until finally, we’re pushed to the breaking point or we get shocked into realizing we’re just not happy, maybe by a loss or a shakeup or a breakdown. All of a sudden, we’re lost. We need help but we can’t ask for it because we don’t know how. We’re always the ones helping everyone else. We get angry, because how can we need rescue? If only someone we don’t know that well would come along, see exactly what they need to tell us, tell us this magic information that allows us to have an aha moment and actually follow through, and then that person
flies skips disappears out of our lives as quietly as they came in. But that only happens in books or movies or books made into movies.
So, how do we save ourselves?
1. First things first. Breathe. When we are stressed, feeling overwhelmed, and trapped, we forget to breathe from our diaphragm. Shallow breathing keeps us in flight or fight mode. As soon as we take even one deep breath, we relax. Things don’t seem as dire. We give ourselves back some space.
2. Sit with your feelings. Literally, sit down, close your eyes, take deep, slow breaths, and let your feelings come up. Don’t try to push them away. Just let them come and go. Anytime you feel overwhelmed, concentrate on your breathing: think ‘inhale’ on your inhalations and ‘exhale’ on your exhalations. Once you’ve calmed yourself, let the feelings drift in and back out. What this is doing is two-fold – you are showing yourself that you can have these feelings without being controlled by them, and you are also accepting that you have these feelings with no judgement.
3. Write down your issue(s). You can use MS Word or a piece of paper or a journal. The feelings might come up again while you write. Let yourself feel them, but continue writing. Remember to stick to the facts. Don’t write down that you are stupid or a bad person or useless. Those aren’t facts, those thoughts are you beating yourself up for living life. There are good times and there are bad times in life. Every single person goes through these times. Your worth is not defined by your mistakes or your failures.
4. Now, write down the worst thing that can happen in your circumstances. Think back to other times in your past when things seemed bleak and what the outcome was. You obviously came out safely, so acknowledge that the chance of making it through this situation successfully are high.
5. Write the best possible outcome you can see happening. How could you get to this outcome? What would you need to know? What would you need to do? Who would you need to talk to? Make a plan.
6. Talk to someone you trust. A friend, a mentor, a parent or family member, a partner. Tell them as much as you need to about the situation and your plan. Let them help you – they can be your champion; they can give you ideas that you may not have thought of; they can connect you to the right people; they can be your safe place to be heard and understood.
7. Take action on your plan. Sometimes, your plan may simply entail having reminders in place to meditate, check in with your trusted person once a week to vent and debrief, or use methods to stop your negative thoughts. Sometimes your plan will be more complicated and involve other people or organizations. It may take a while, but taking action means you are taking control of the situation instead of it (and the associated feelings) being in control. Guess what that means?
You did it! You’ve become your own saviour; no fairy godmother needed.
If you’d like some support with this, please don’t hesitate to contact me!