“And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
— Anais Nin
Keeping Calm in the Midst of Chaos
- It’s upsetting to feel “out of control.” If you’re like many of us, you’re probably a “doer.” You take action when necessary; you plan, you take precautions. Action, planning, and precautions are good! But sometimes life spins out of control, despite everything we do. What about the things you can’t control? To me, the “feeling” of being out-of-control is one of the worst parts of a stressor. Admitting to ourselves we’re scared, and that it makes sense to feel scared, is the first step. And we don’t have to “fix” the scared. Sometimes, “I don’t know” is the only place we DO know.
- What old messages is this activating for you? Past traumas or disasters? Fears you’ve experienced for a long time? Internal narratives such as, It’s not safe for me,” “No one is here for me,” I feel all alone,” “Doesn’t it just figure,” “Just when life was going pretty well (or just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse), here comes the coronavirus!”
- Don’t scare yourself. It’s difficult (or, for many of us, well-nigh impossible) not to read as much news as we can, in an effort not to be surprised” or “caught off guard.” But recognize when you’re read enough, and how much is “too much.”
- Stay away from the “what-ifs.” It’s so easy for our ruminating minds to whip themselves into a frenzy with all the catastrophic possibilities we can imagine. We forget we have the power to refocus our own thoughts.
- Do what you can to calm your inner “panicker.” Recognize that you and others may be activated and frightened right now. If you were your own good parent, what would you tell that frightened part of you? Be gentle with yourself, and normalize if you have increased trouble remembering or feel more anxious than usual. How can you take care of yourself emotionally right now?
- Meditation, prayer, a spiritual practice, or reading inspirational stories can help. How have you or others made it through upsetting events in the past? And what did you learn?
- Do you want to drink hot tea, to hear soothing music, to hug your pet, to talk to a friend? Can you help comfort any others who feel afraid?
- I sometimes suggest to my clients the exercise of “observe and describe.” Either take a walk outside or around your house, and repeat out loud what you see. Do you see lots of leaves on the tree outside your place? What shape are the leaves? How many would you estimate are there on that tree? Do you see a flower? How many petals does it have? Do you see purple, yellow, or red, or perhaps orange or teal? Is your neighbor walking a pink-sweatered small brown dog with floppy ears? Or inside, do you hear a clock ticking or the refrigerator humming? How many different items do you see on your desk? Blue paper clips? A sales receipt from Trader Joe’s? Two green packages of Scotch tape? Observe how this exercise can lower your anxiety, if only ever-so-slightly. What do you notice is different?
- Remember that this, too, shall pass. I think one of the worst parts of a crisis (loss, breakup, or other upset) is that you’re afraid you’ll always feel this sad/this scared/this anxious, forever. But feelings don’t work that way. What wisdom would your “future” self give your “present” self about the present situation?
- What is your take-away from past moments of crisis? That you are stronger than you realized? That life is unpredictable? And that perhaps you have blessings to be grateful for.
Individual & Couples Counseling in the South Bay (Torrance, CA)
- Are you anxious or worried about something–or everything?
- Do you feel stuck but aren’t sure how to get unstuck?
- Are you in the same relationship again–with a different person?
- Do you want a saner relationship with food?
- Do you struggle with panic attacks?
- Are you bashful about your shyness or social anxiety?
- Are you highly intelligent, sensitive, creative, or musical–yet feel dissatisfied?
If so, I may be the right therapist for you. I chose the name “therapy-conscious” for my website because therapy can help you become “conscious” of what your struggles are really about, patterns of behavior that are no longer serving you–as well as your inner strength, wisdom, and vision.
What to Expect:
If you enter into therapy with me, you will have the opportunity to be understood and receive feedback in a safe and supportive setting. Together we look at what is going on for you and decide how to help it get better. I will believe in you until you believe in yourself. Whether you want to feel calmer, heal from a loss, find and keep the love you want, put yourself back on your priority list, or shift your shyness or sensitivity from a liability into an asset, I am committed to helping people just like you.
Long-Term Relational Psychotherapy:
I also specialize in long-term relational psychotherapy. If you’re ready to work deeply–even if you’ve been in therapy before–I am the kind of therapist who can help you get to the bottom of patterns and struggles you may have wondered about for years.
If you are curious about how therapy may help, or to schedule an appointment, let’s talk. I’m happy to consult briefly by phone and answer any questions you might have. You can reach me by phone at (310) 538-3512, or by e-mail at email@example.com.