Feeling Safe in Stillness
Right now, chaos reigns. Maybe it is turning on the news to hear scary statistics and who has what level of surge happening or going to happen. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to work from home when you left critical notes or resources at the office (who didn’t??). Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to get your kids to sit down and do their schooling at the kitchen table instead of their desk. Maybe you were furloughed or layed off and a central part of your way of being isn’t there for you anymore. Maybe your family members have been struggling to follow social distancing recommendations and you’re really scared for them. Maybe your loved one or ones work in essential services and are facing being exposed to COVID-19 every day.
Chaos is everywhere. And at the same time, so is stillness. A stillness we’re not used to. And when our brain senses something we’re not used to, we don’t feel safe. Ironically, it’s how our brain keeps us safe. But right now, it feels like chaos. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
But if chaos is the rule right now, why is stillness so unfamiliar and feel so scary? Because we’ve, at this point, almost all grown up in a system that praises productivity, staying busy, avoiding downtime. And we figured out how to make that work (or so we thought)--so having that rigid pattern interrupted, and ground to a halt, created a different sort of constant energy-buzz and we interpret this stillness as chaos. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
So many memes, posts, videos, and other media out there talk about using this time to ramp up productivity, learn new things, be better in ways we “didn’t have time for before.” But what if the only thing we improve in during this chaotic stillness is being still? Feeling safe in stillness? To take a gigantic breath, and not feel like we’re being pushed off of a cliff into rocks below? It doesn’t have to be that way!
So how can it be? How do we go from fearing the stillness to feeling safe and maybe even comforted by it? The first thing needed is to figure out what it is about the stillness that is creating the intense fear. Generally, we’re all afraid of the unknown. Again, that’s part of how our brain protects us. But if we can look a little deeper, dig a bit further down, we can look at what that unfamiliar might mean and look our fear in the eye. By acknowledging, by calling out what we’re afraid of, we can actually do something about it. We can check in with how likely that thing is to happen, and make informed decisions about how we can handle it now, or when we have to make decisions about how to handle it. And then you can move forward.
By slowing down, by embracing the stillness, we can focus on what scares us about it and actually take back the power from the fear of it. And in that moment of stillness, we can realize that right then, in that moment, we are safe. And then you can move forward.
The more often we can take a moment to find our sense of safety in stillness, the more we can support our wellbeing and find our footing again. And then you can move forward.
I don’t write this pretending that a single blog post is going to change your life 100%. This is a starting point. Sometimes, we look into the fear and see that it is something we’ve been avoiding for a long time. Sometimes we don’t even have to look into the fear to know that. This is where talking with a therapist is helpful. Sometimes we look into the fear, or maybe it’s “just” discomfort, and don’t know what to do next. A therapist is helpful in that case too. We’re specifically trained to guide you safely through that next part and work through to a life you want to live. Work through to feeling safe.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to explore the possibilities with me. I hope you found something in this post to bring you comfort and connection.