Lately I’ve had a little more time at home than usual, and I’ve been doing some research into my own life. Reading old journals, looking at old photos… And it’s bringing me a good feeling. But reading old journals doesn’t always give us an uplifting feeling. Sometimes it feels more like there’s a dragon waiting in there to rip our heads off!
That’s what happened to my student Phoebe. She was re-reading some old journals, reliving an earlier time in her life, and suddenly she felt her whole body rigid with tension. In fact, her stomach was so tight that she felt almost nauseated.
She felt like pushing the journal away from her. It was like some part of her just wanted to push away that whole time in her life.
In the old days, Phoebe might have walked around for days with a tense stomach, and it might have turned into a headache as well. But drawing on what she’d learned from me, Phoebe did something different this time.
In this episode of Inner Peace for Challenging Times, you’ll hear how Phoebe was able to turn her experience of stress and tension into an opportunity to find a greater sense of inner peace.
So what did Phoebe do differently? She paused… She noticed what had happened. SOMETHING in the journal had triggered this reaction. At first she didn’t even know what… but that was OK. She didn’t have to know what it was, in order to acknowledge that SOMETHING had happened.
And then it became clear. She was reading about a time in the past when she did some things she wasn’t proud of. She hadn’t done a very good job of living by her own values. Something in her was feeling shame and utter rejection of her former actions.
Phoebe acknowledged this part of her — that she could feel so strongly in her stomach — using those words “Something in me.”
“Something in me is feeling ashamed and rejecting my actions back then. And it’s worried I might do something like that again.”
Do you see what’s going on? Rather than being at the mercy of her tight stomach and nauseated feelings, Phoebe turned toward that part of her and acknowledged it. That allowed her to dialogue with it, and learn more what was bothering this part of her so much.
It was worried she would be crushed, annihilated, and destroyed if she ever did those things again. Wow, strong language! But that’s how this part of her felt. And if it was afraid she might be crushed, annihilated, and destroyed, then no wonder it had such a tight grip on her stomach!
That’s actually what Phoebe said to it.
“No wonder you’re feeling so tight if that’s what you’re worried about.”
And here’s the cool thing. When Phoebe did that, she could feel her tight stomach begin to relax. She could feel that gripping, tense part of her beginning to calm down.
Why did it calm down? The past hadn’t changed. The things Phoebe did in the past had still been done. The tense gripping part calmed down because Phoebe was hearing it. Hearing its worries and fears. Not telling this part of her that it had nothing to worry about. No, she was validating it. Saying to it “No wonder” it was worried.
Phoebe stayed with this part of her for a long time… about half an hour. Really hearing its fears and hearing what it never wanted her to have to go through again. Her whole body relaxed even more. The whole process brought quite a sense of peace and calm.
You know, this is called inner relationship: when you can treat a part of yourself as having its own reasons and its own purpose, and you can let it know you hear it and that it makes sense.
And then you can feel in your body the difference that makes. There’s no validation better than that!
Do you want more of my tips for calm in the midst of stress? Get my free e-course, Get Bigger Than What’s Bugging You. In five simple lessons, you’re well on your way to responding differently to the triggers of life.
Here’s to you… having a more peaceful life!