Here’s a picture of before and after I realized just how much 90-second clearing helps me:
This is what would happen before I could stop the crazy rush of panic chemicals:
- Stress response to the thought of change – adrenaline, etc.
- Reduction in cognitive resources, narrowing, sense of danger, alert
- Escalation of stress response, based on sense of narrowing options, bad past experiences
- Fear / anxiety / dread mixture runs the show
- Chase back to how things are – get content, stay stuck
Before, I would escalate really quickly, thinking that I couldn’t manage, or that I was trapped. The stress response would trigger a physical reaction with me that would make me feel like I was blocked in and didn’t have a way out, and I would begin to panic. It didn’t matter if the change was something as basic as fixing a curtain rod that had come loose from the wall, or starting a new job. I would still feel it coming on and have the same catastrophic reaction. And because my own personal catastrophic reaction often involves involuntary crying, and I cannot stand to cry in front of people for no apparent reason, I avoided a lot of situations that I feared would get hold of me.
But now, I have a different way of handling things, and so far it’s working pretty well — when I remember to do it, of course 😉
This is what is possible now, when I stop the escalation of stress chemicals and use my breathing for a minute and a half to calm everything down:
- Stress Inoculation Training, Stress Hardiness Optimization
- Ability to shift the physical experience by breathing and other coping mechanisms
- Clearing of stress response broadens options, opens thinking
- From fear / anxiety / dread into anticipation / engagement / hope
Basically, the difference is like night and day. The old storms that would come up don’t have to anymore. I have a way to calm them down and think more clearly about what is in front of me. And most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m hemmed in, simply because of a physical response.
My nervous system is wired to be, well, wired. It’s automatic with me. I’ve been trained that way by life. Now I need to train myself to be another way.
And so I am.