As we saw in an earlier post, being centered means we have an anchor point in our lives. It exists inside the mental “safe room” (which can be as big as we want it to be) that’s filled with all the good and all the positive things, feelings, people, situations in our lives.
When you’re building your safe room, you can definitely start small. If there’s anything in your life that gives you peace, start with that.
If your peaceful, happy moments happen in your evening bubble bath, that’s as good a place to start as any! Who says you can’t build a fortress of peace starting in the tub?
Now, if stress and anxiety create a kind of chaos, a sort of being blown-by-the-winds situation, does being centered, does having an anchor mean you are immobile, unable to be flexible?
No! Your center can go with you wherever you go. The difference is this—we can let stress and anxiety tell us where to go and what to do, or we can choose our course based on the desires, dreams and ambitions that arise from our center.
Being centered means, among other things, that you get to choose your own reactions, your own solutions, and your own feelings.
Let’s look at some steps to take on the way to establishing a center.
Turn your focus from the external to the internal. Too often we let external circumstances dictate our feelings, our responses, and our sense of self-worth.
We need to take back that control, and place it firmly where it belongs: in our own hands.
Instead of worrying, which is a negative cycle that can only produce more worry, get into that safe place we discussed earlier.
From there, examine your feelings about prominent issues in your life. Examine your thoughts. What really is important to you? Worry and anxiety always leap ahead, skipping solutions, interventions, and potential positives to us imagining the worst possible outcome.
Instead of making that leap to the worst possible outcome, take any situation where you’re under pressure, facing a challenge, or are stressing over. Lay out the situation in black and white (you are allowed to use pen and paper, or a computer—to quote the slogan, “just do it!”).
Stick with the issue itself; don’t add consequences or final outcomes.
After you’ve sketched out a situation (start with only one), realistically evaluate your resources. Many of those resources are already a part of you, they’re inside you, and they are quite real.
When you listen to the voices of negativity, when you get used to jumping from a stressor to an inevitable catastrophe, you stop listening to the voices that tell you, “You can do this. This is something we’re going to do and do well.”
Although it seems like a lot of work, break that situation down into small parts, small jobs, and jot down a line or two about how you’ll get that job accomplished. It’s work, right?
Maybe it seems like busy work? It’s essential work. If your life has been dominated by anxiety borne from stress, you’re already expending huge amounts of energy. It doesn’t feel like it because it’s what you’re used to.
Know this right now: doing something other than worrying, stressing, and feeling bad will actually feel strange, wrong, and somehow unproductive. Why shouldn’t it? You’re used to living in one way.
I’m encouraging you to do something very different. Of course tackling problems is going to feel strange and wrong at first.
We’ll keep on discussing how to center while meeting the situations arising that provoke stress in our next entry!