Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Those moments are just “ouch”, aren’t they? When you’re thinking what it means about you that what’s dear to you is NOT happening.
I had a phase like that recently, to do with implementing what I learned on a heart-centred business course. It really got to me.
If not careful or if you are naturally sensitive, how things seem can really affect you, affect EVERYTHING.
How do you stop drowning in self-worry and get to the shore?
First, let’s talk about drowning
I’m referring to highly stressful thoughts and feelings as drowning because it sort of feels that way. At least to my sensitive psyche.
Not to be a drama queen, I happen to dislike that, but to name the dynamic in order to better know how to respond.
And it actually matters a lot how you respond as it’s known only too well in my family.
I had an aunt I’ve never met who drowned, age 18, just before my father was born.
Although her story is a tragic thing to be sharing here I also have a sense of sacredness about it. That her short life can help people in some way.
It sure helped me as I thought of her all of a sudden, after many years.
My aunt went swimming with friends to a popular spot in the area, a water-filled quarry. It was 1947. Health and safety was very different back then.
She dived in but never resurfaced and it took three days to recover her body.
When she was found, at a significant depth, she was holding onto a piece of former railways.
It’s not known what exactly happened to her. She was a good swimmer but may have had a cramp or a moment of panic.
Either way, she started drowning and clung to something that couldn’t help her.
Like me clinging to self-worry last week.
Is it even possible to let go?
And I want to have compassion for my and your not letting go when we cling.
The automatic first reaction is to lean into the familiar, even if it’s not helpful.
It’s hard not to do the thing that doesn’t work over and over when you REALLY need something and panicking about it.
When I was struggling with my course assignment, the habit of trying to save myself by trying harder kicked in very strongly.
Except that another part of me stopped co-operating completely and I was stuck. Terrified but unable to take any new action.
Somewhere I knew that this time I wasn’t going to make it by “trying harder”. And, I was too scared to stop trying.
Then, I remembered my aunt who drowned.
How what killed her was holding onto a bad solution.
What should you do when drowning?
Two things happened that gave me a clue.
First, my health practitioner told me that my kidney/water element was depleted. It indicated that I needed to SUPPORT, not avoid water/emotions, in my life.
Then, one day I was showing somebody my beloved cartoon and the hedgehog character in it fell into a river and started drowning.
I sat up all alert to see what it would do because hedgehogs are my guides when it comes to sensitive living.
What the drowning hedgehog did was to “inhale best it could and let the water take him”.
To do so, he flipped onto his back like so:
As I was watching this, a judgement passed through my mind that it was lame to just give up and not try to do anything to help oneself.
But I was also struck by the fact that letting go into the water stopped the hedgehog from drowning.
And allowed him to drift which bought him time for help to emerge. Which it did, in a way that I wouldn’t have predicted.
Out of curiosity I googled advice for drowning.
It says the same thing! You must let go into the water, flipping onto your back so you can breathe and conserve energy.
Similar life saving happened to me last week. My course buddy helped me let go into the water.
The wise woman that she is, she suggested that with her watching over, I could allow myself to feel the scary feelings about the course.
So obvious now but it wasn’t something I was considering at all.
The result? Fear, shame, grief. And, a revelation: the end of stuckness!
My physical and emotional breathing became easier.
A couple of days later, two massive breakthroughs FOUND me the way I wouldn’t have predicted.
Not only the coursework started flowing again but I understood some things I’ve been worried about for years.
Try it yourself
What’s happening in those moments which feel like drowning is that you’re experiencing inner discomfort and then trying to help yourself by clinging to the assumption that things are as bad as you think they are.
But pay attention.
If a particular conclusion is dragging you under, please remember my aunt and let go.
And then remember the drowning Hedgehog in the Fog.
The wise hedgehog knew to get a deep breath and allow himself to be carried by the water for a while.
When you allow the water (emotions) to occur, you naturally metabolise them in your system and you become available to fresh insights and help.
You can’t predict new solutions until you do that.
Try it now for literally five minutes. Set an alarm if it helps you know you will resurface.
Your body is naturally buoyant, both in physical and emotional water, provided that you soften and open your posture and breathe in best you can.
Go on. You know deep down that it’s safer than the alternative.