How to Find Inner Safety in the Midst of Chaos
Regulating your Nervous System is a skill set that we all need to learn
Safety is key for not only transformation and for healing, but absolutely essential for just being a happy human. And feeling unsafe is exactly what is at the core of why there are so few humans who can truly claim to be happy.
When I speak of happy I am talking more of the 'content, grounded, at ease' version of happiness, rather than the passionate, loud, my selfies-are-all-over-Instagram-type of happiness.
I'm talking about the kind of happiness that comes from feeling a simple sense of connection and belonging to life.
So why do we feel so unsafe?
The reasons for unsafety are many, of course.
There are personal traumas we carry from the past and that affect us in the present.
There are environmental, social, and political problems the world is facing, that feel unsolvable and bring a deep sense of uncertainty.
There is social media with its capacity to hijack our nervous systems (NS) into fight and flight and make us feel more separate than ever.
There is an increase of electromagnetic radiation that we are subjected to day in and out, with many of us not realizing the effect it is having on our brains and hearts. (I will elaborate on that in a separate article).
There is the war on sensemaking and the resulting incoherence about what is really going on, which leaves us feeling overstimulated, overwhelmed, and consequently powerless.
And all of this translates into what some have called free-floating anxiety. Which seems to be the sea in which most of humanity is swimming in right now.
What can we do about it?
I think of anxiety as static in electrical wires.
It's energy that is not grounded and doesn't have a channel to release. Causing the wires and in this case our NS to buzz. It's highly unpleasant.
When we experience this kind of 'inner buzz' our systems are designed to find a way to discharge. The problem is when we don't know where this buzz is coming from.
If I feel anxious about my job interview, for example, I can use my mind to explain at least the 'why' I am feeling this way. That might not discharge the nervous energy straight away, but I can start adopting loving self-talk in order to help regulate. (e.g. You got this!)
I can also start looking for what I need. Maybe I call a friend to receive a pep-talk just before the interview. Maybe I do some yoga or ask someone to send me energetic support while I am there.
This kind of problem-solving helps us to move out of freeze into action. As long as we think we can do something about our situation, the situation becomes somewhat more manageable.
But what can we do when there are too many indistinguishable factors causing 'this inner buzzing'?
Anxiety that is caused by overwhelm has a simple antidote: Simplify.
Rather than trying to solve the problem by understanding it, which in the case of the complexity of life is impossible and only leads to more overwhelm and despair (because we are faced with the fact that we can't grasp the immensity of it!),
narrow your attention down to what is recognizable and manageable: like the sensations in your body.
Here is a step-by-step process of what to do when you notice yourself becoming dysregulated aka feeling unsafe:
Start tracking what is happening in your body without judgment but curiosity instead: Oh, wow, my heart feels really unstable. My mind is going really fast and I feel tension in my shoulders. Acknowledge the sensations within your body that are part of feeling unsafe and then gently shift your attention.
Look for a resource within yourself. A sensation that gives you comfort, peace, a sense of being 'at home', pleasure maybe: e.g. Hmm, my belly feels warm and soft. My legs feel strong. My arms feel light. The breath coming in and out through my nose feels relaxing. Remember there is no right or wrong here. It can be as small an area as the tip of your nose. All that you are looking for is somewhere in your body that feels neutral so you can truly REST your attention there.
Stay in that place and allow yourself to connect with it. Maybe it helps to put a hand on that part of your body to support you focus the attention there. Soften and yield into that neutral, safe place inside. Notice how good it feels to connect to it.
Notice your NS wanting to discharge. If you are truly resting in a neutral place within yourself, sooner or later your body will want to take some deep breaths in and exhale with a sigh of relief. You might even start yawning or feeling like you want to stretch. If it's safe for you to do so go along, follow your body's intelligence.
(Do this next step only when you feel truly connected to your resource and strong enough to stretch your comfort zone a little.) So, when you are ready, from the place of your resource, gently shift your attention to the place in your body where you felt unsafe. Don't push your attention into it, approach it with feather-like awareness, as if you were going to touch a soap bubble. Yes, that is the kind of tenderness needed when meeting our unsafe parts. Embrace this part with your loving kindness, releasing all expectations and pressure on it to change.
Notice what happens. The uncomfortable sensation might not go away, but the more that you soften (i.e. put your weapons down) and come to accept this part unconditionally, the more it will start to open, change and move. You have to have the same kind of patience with it the way you would with a scared animal in the wild. You can't fake it.
Honor your capacity. Do as much 'feeling' as is comfortable for you at any given moment. Watch out for your mind making you believe that more is better. Or that you need to do it more effectively. That is the push energy of the ego that makes you feel unsafe in the first place. You are trying to release that part. Instead, enjoy the process of becoming deeply intimate and familiar with all of you.
There is nothing wrong with feeling unsafe. It's part of the human experience.
And just the way you wouldn't shout at a child for it, stop judging yourself and give yourself the gift of your acceptance and loving kindness.
Do this practice as much as it feels good. After a while, it becomes a habit and more and more pleasurable and rewarding. It is very empowering to be able to regulate one's own Nervous System.
In this way, we also become aware of how much we are conditioned to being in flight and fight, and how much we do things that don't serve us. Slowly but surely we can learn to make choices that are coming from a deeper sense of our being. It brings relief to the heart as it finally feels honored and listened to.
And that's all your heart ever wants in order to feel safe.
Enjoy this way of relating to yourself and let me know about your experience!