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Hey Baby, you into torture?
What?!?! Of course not! I mean, that’s crazy…
Lemme ask you this: do you ever worry, spiral down into worst case scenarios, beat yourself up, or engage in negative self talk? Yes, of course you do. You’re human. So, guess what…YOU’RE INTO TORTURE.
I’m gonna bet that you’re starting to pick up what I’m laying down here. We torture ourselves daily, sometimes hourly, or even constantly. When we spin into worry, we’re torturing ourselves. When we allow the inner critic to have a voice, that’s torture too. And, sadly, we’re wired for this nonsense.
See, when we were mere cave people trying to survive the day we had to be constantly on high alert, for dangers were everywhere. Even eating, right? New food…put it in your mouth…BOOM…you’re dead, cause that new berry was poison. And let’s not even begin to imagine the animals that wanted to eat us for dinner. But now, since there are no saber tooth tigers, and unless we’re picking unknown mushrooms and popping them in our mouths, we know our food is safe.
That old reptilian part of our brain, however, thinks the danger shit is going to hit the fan any minute. So, we spin, we worry, we beat ourselves up. We can’t help it. Feels hopeless, doesn’t it?
Here’s the good news!! We can learn how to manage the self torture!! HUZZAH! And it’s simple!! Double Huzzah!! But it takes work and practice…damn. Why does all the good stuff take work and practice and all the bad stuff come so easily? (That’s a whole other blog post…)
***side note: why is every image I’m searching for prehistoric cave woman have an overt sexuality to it, up to and including naked ginormous breasts? And giant blond bedroom hair? Really??? And not a single sexy caveman image. WTF? GRRRRR. I went with cave art. sigh…
Although we have much more complicated and busy lives than our cave people ancestors, we also have the luxury of working to improve ourselves. I’m going to give you some tools you can use right now to begin the work of stopping the torture.
1. BREATHE. When we begin to spin into worry, or what ifs, or anxiety our system literally thinks it’s under attack. Breathing from the chest or shoulders signals our system to panic. Breathing from the belly, deeply and slowly, tells our system to chill the fuck out. 2 different options for you: 4X4X4X4 breathing-slow, steady inhale for a count of 4, hold for 4, exhale 4, hold 4, low into the belly while keeping your shoulders down and low. Or the 4-2-6 method: inhale 4, pause 2, slowly exhale 6. Remember to breath low into the belly. Imagine there are hands gently holding your shoulders down, and you’re trying to fill your low belly completely.
2. The 5 SECOND TRICK. You can change what you’re thinking about when you replace it with another thought. Let’s say you are worried about a huge and important work presentation and you’re spinning. “What if I blow it? What if they think I’m an idiot?” The instant you realize you’re having worry thoughts, 5-4-3-2-1 make yourself think of yourself after the meeting and you’re feeling satisfied, proud and positive. This is like time travel, or some call it visualizing. Replace the worry thought with a future positive thought.
3. Ask yourself the question IS THIS REALLY TRUE? Once you’ve calmed your system down, take a moment to ask yourself if what you’re telling yourself is true? Usually it’s not, like not even close. This can be instantly helpful.
4. TALK ABOUT IT. We are fucking masters at torturing ourselves. We do it in public, with a smile on our faces, and in our best clothes. When we keep all the torturous thoughts inside they become bigger and scarier and darker and ickier. And worst of all, they feel real! But, when we talk them through and release them into the light, they usually can’t survive. The horrible hamster wheel in our minds is the single worst place for our torturous thoughts. Talk them out with a trusted friend, a therapist, or oh…I don’t know…A COACH. And if you can’t do that, at least, for the love of Godzilla, write them down. Get them out of your system somehow.
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