Giving (and taking) advice from your past self

A creative exercise for freeing yourself from panic, stress and overwhelm

You can watch the video –or– read through the steps below.

I don’t know about you, but I frequently find myself in the grip of panic and stress, especially lately. When there are overwhelming things happening in the world and it feels like there’s nothing you can do, try this:

  1. First, take a deep breath. I like to put my hand somewhere on my body, like on my forehead or over my heart. Somewhere that feels like a loving touch.
  1. Think back to a moment when you most recently felt overwhelmed by stress. Could be five minutes ago, could be last night. Put yourself back there.
  1. Notice everything around you in that moment – the air, the sounds, the smells, what you see, who is with you, what you’re wearing, what you’re saying. You might notice your body now in this moment feeling the sensations that you felt then, and that’s okay. Remind yourself that you’re here now, and you’re noticing those feelings without judgment. Only noticing them and feeling them.
  1. Take a deep breath, and send love to yourself in that moment. Without thinking of what you’d like to change, without judgment, send love and support. The way you would to a friend you love dearly.

Shake it off! Now we’re going to widen our focus.

  1. Think back to a moment ten years ago, a moment that caused you great stress or panic or overwhelm. Put yourself back in that moment when you’re consumed by stress, and look around. Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? What sounds do you hear, what do you smell? Are you throwing a tantrum? Are you yelling, are you crying? If it’s overwhelming to you now to put yourself back in that moment, remind yourself that you’re only noticing what you were feeling then, and you can always pull yourself back.
  1. Ask yourself: what do you see now that you couldn’t see then? How do you see the situation differently now? What advice would you give yourself then, knowing what you know now? What would have been helpful to hear? What did you need? Grab some paper and write it down.
  1. Take a breath, and send deep love to yourself in that moment ten years ago. Let her know you love her and believe in her, and you know she’s going to make it.
  1. Bring yourself back to the present moment. Look at the advice you wrote down. Does any of it apply to your current situation, to the thing that has most recently caused you stress? Can you take some of that advice now?
  1. Open yourself up to guidance and love and support from yourself ten years from now. Imagine she is sitting somewhere sending you a breath of deep love. Accept it, and open up to whatever she might know that you don’t know in this situation right now.

And remember:

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You are very brave!

 

 

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