A Calming Soak…

…For the mind

What am I soaking in right now?

Sometimes I need to soak in art, creativity, and color….something inspirational and fun!

Sometimes I MUST soak in something that keeps me from going insane…something that gets me off the ledge.

Like a calming bubble bath in the chaos of life.

Mentorship, business book, what the #*%@ am I supposed to do next? – all good choices for learning and growth. But what happens when you keep waking up in panic mode in the middle of the night? It’s 3 a.m. and your mind is racing, making a list of all the horrible things that could go wrong, all the bad things that might happen, how it’ll never all work out! And all you really want is a good night’s sleep.

Have you been there? I’m going to take a wild guess and say YES, especially given the events of the last 18 months or so. But let’s put that aside for a moment, it was happening to me well before the pandemic era!!

Anyone else?

I call them anxiety attacks or panic attacks. That’s not an official diagnosis, but I would feel panicked and out of control. My art was suffering, BIG TIME! But how do we get out of it? Great question…glad you asked!

Today I am going to offer a few ideas for you to “soak” in that might help when the panic sets in.

In the interest of full disclosure, these aren’t my original ideas. I didn’t make these up. They come from a variety of sources, and I will cite where I found them below.

1. “Everything is Figureoutable.” This comes from Marie Forleo. In fact, she wrote an entire book with that title. From a creative perspective, this makes sense. On a very basic level, every fix to every problem that ever existed got “figured out” by someone at some point! Everything we use as a convenience, or to solve a problem, came from the mind of a human who “figured it out.” There is a lot more to it than that, but whenever I am spiraling out of control, I repeat to myself – “everything is figureoutable” and try to gain some sort of mental perspective.

Within the pages of her book, Marie suggests an exercise that is similar to “Fear Setting” by Tim Ferriss. When that worst case scenario plays over in our heads, examine it closely, and then objectively determine its actual likelihood of happening. And, if it did happen, what could you do to pull your self back up? Not “OMG, I WOULD have to do X!” Figure it out by saying “Well, I COULD do X and I COULD do Y.” Everything is Figureoutable. That phrase doesn’t suggest that doing so will be easy, or pleasant. But it does suggest that we can figure it out, we can find a solution. Which brings us to our next concept.

2. “We Can Do Hard Things.” I have heard this concept from two of my teachers and mentors – Anne LaFollette and Amy Porterfield. Let me just start out by saying that the older I get, the less I actually WANT to do hard things, but I can….still…do…hard…things! It’s hard to try again or learn new things. It’s hard to take risks and it’s hard not knowing FOR SURE that everything will be OK! But here’s the thing, if we truly want a particular outcome, we MUST be willing to do what it takes to get that outcome. And yes, it’s hard.

Another big player in my current discovery journey is Jasmine Star, a photographer and online marketing whiz. She asked the question: …”if we aren’t willing to do the hard work, can we complain about the result?” And the answer is NO in my opinion. But here’s the kicker – It IS perfectly alright to say “No, I don’t WANT to do that.” You have choice, discretion, and autonomy. CHOICE! Just remember-you CAN do hard things and you get to CHOOSE whether or not to see it through on any particular project. Just don’t play victim. Aim your “CanDo” at what you “WantTo.” You may surprise yourself by how absolutely powerful you still are!

3. “Attitude of Gratitude.” You’ll find this everywhere, but my source is Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. When I am spiraling out of control, mired in that sea of anxiety, being grateful for what IS right and good in my life goes a long way in stopping the runaway train. And I assure you, I sometimes have to start way down at the very basic level-“Right now, I’m grateful I have a bed to sleep on, food, and clean water!” OK? If you need to start there, start there.

When practicing an attitude of gratitude, make it an “attitude,” not just a superficial list. I’m not talking about an insincere, just write 5 things you’re grateful for everyday type exercise. I’m talking about being genuinely grateful for something that is right and good in life. It’s the change in focus. What you focus on expands. Be thankful for all the things that are working, which then brings clarity and calm, which makes the anxiety ease up, which makes things a little easier, which brings more gratitude. Harder, but still doable (see #2), is to be grateful for any lessons learned by making it though the hard stuff.

These concepts work together. In all that gratitude you will see how you have managed to solve all kinds of problem before. How you have managed to get hard things done that, in retrospect, don’t seem so hard now. You figured it out before, and you will figure it out again. And if it helps, jot those worries down on a pad next to your bed, and let your mind put them on hold till morning. You can solve them with fresh eyes when you wake up.

What’s your takeaway for handling those panicky moments? Let me know in the comments.

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