The question I keep getting the most is, “Everyone keeps telling me to allow my feelings, but how am I supposed to do that when I have so many!?”
So true. I hear you. So today I want to share an exercise that I stole from Randall and Beth from This is Us called Worst Case Scenario.
Rather than facing our deepest fears, grief, or doubts, we often run from them. We try to put them in a box, bury them deep inside, and hustle as fast as we can away from them. Or we try to be positive and talk ourselves out of them. This exercise will help you face what you are most afraid of and deal with it.
I started practicing this exercise almost daily as a way to face my feelings and give myself room to just be with my worst-case scenario. Give it a try and see if it works for you.
1. Find a safe place where you can take 5-10 minutes to just be.
I have done this exercise with my spouse (as Beth and Randall do), walking the dog in the morning when there aren’t a lot of people around, in the shower, and journaling in my office.
2. Say out loud or write down what is your worst fear.
My older parents will get this virus, my kids will get it, my partner and I will get divorced because we are fighting all the time, the economy won’t recover and we won’t have enough money to pay any of our bills. Really go there to the worst fear.
A couple of cautions here: avoid the temptation to pour positivity or gratitude all over it and pay attention to your energy levels. Sometimes clients who practice this give a litany of worst-case scenarios like they are listing off their grocery list. Instead, really think about what it would look like and feel like if the worst case happened. Open the box you have buried deep inside of you and pull all of that stuff out.
3. Sit with those fears for a minute, feel them in your body, and then call in and name what you can do.
How you would handle it if those fears came true? (e.g. I would go work at the grocery store stocking shelves, I would grieve and cry and gather my support system.) Spend some time really walking through each scenario and making a rough plan for how you would handle it.
When we have High Functioning Anxiety, we run like hell away from our feelings and worst-case scenarios so they are underneath the surface at all times. They never actually stay in the box like we want them to—they tend to bubble up and come out.
Many of my clients are reporting nightmares and insomnia, which is one way they express themselves. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but allowing yourself to face those worst fears will relax your need to push-push-push a bit and give your body some groundedness. Remember, we can do hard things.
Habit is one of those words I have a negative reaction to. Probably like many of you, I have tried to create healthy habits and be super militant about maintaining them, only to fail miserably. Which is why I wanted to talk to Sarah Von Bargen of Yes & Yes. Sarah is an expert in setting and keeping habits so this interview is chock-full of brilliant insights on making small manageable changes, intentionally honoring yourself (all that self-loyalty I talk about), and fostering habits that are actually nurturing, instead of just numbing out and calling it self-care. Check it out on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or over here.